I recently watched Second Skin, a documentary about people that play MMORPG’s. This film had been in production quite a while and was flip flopping around as to when it would be released. The primary amount of footage is from 2006 when Burning Crusade was released. You can watch the whole thing on Hulu, but I am not so sure you want to.
Directed by Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza the film immediately takes a turn for the worse when it decides to focus on how these games pretty much destroy or ruin a person’s life rather than focus on the games and the gamers themselves. What we have here is a film that takes the very stereotypes that we as MMO gamers battle to shrug off and pushes them out to the audience and makes many of us almost ashamed to be playing MMO’s.
The film doesn’t cover the industry, it doesn’t cover what the games involve, the way people interact in them or how much fun they can be. Instead the film plucks every stereotype of gamer there is (only the worst ones mind you) and then paints all of us gamers in a terribly bad light.
Lets take a look at the type of gamers featured in Second Skin and rattle off a who is who list of what other people believe MMO players to be like:
* *Lets see… take introverted lady that only finds love on internet in a game and probably owns 8 cats : check
* *Fat dudes that do nothing but guzzle energy drinks and power level: check
* *Dude that loses job cause of gaming: check. As a bonus lets have him in a run down house with no carpet and a friend that looks like a meth addict: BONUS CHECK
* *Creepy guy that preys on women through MMO’s and nerd flirts with them over voice chat: check
* *Interview mother who parented so poorly kid shot himself. Then show her trying to help other evil gamers and failing OH NOES!: check
* *Take couple with soon to be dad that doesn’t want to relinquish gaming time to parent: check
* *Coverage of gamers that live together and forget to buy basic household items, but lets cover them at a grocery store stocking up to power level in WoW the night before expansion comes out: check
What other gamer stereotype did they miss? I am pretty sure they covered them all. Yup, that’s all of us alright! Although I am sure every MMO player has run into those types and that most games do have a ton of those types of people playing, the film does nothing to go out of its way to show them in a good light. The only truly feel good story in the mix is the handicapped gentleman that is just happy to be able to play and gets a sense of freedom when he does so. Thank you for at least shedding light on one positive thing gaming can do to people.
Then when they DO COVER something that is controversial such as gold farming it is glossed over. Wait though, they do interview a gold farming company head. Guess what! This is a kinder, gentler gold farming company and he wants to treat his
slave labor employees with respect and take them on field trips and have love ins! Wow, maybe gold farming isn’t that bad after all. Hell, I’ll go work for him according to what I saw in that film. Doesn’t look so bad to me!
Second Skin is pretty biased toward portraying MMO players as the utmost losers they could possibly find. All that time for this? Are you kidding me? Of all the 50 million gamers out there these people are the best you could find? One guy wouldn’t even keep toilet paper stocked in the house or go get any when his lady friend was calling him FROM the bathroom. Nope, gotta raid! Trust me, even though 90% of my WoW guilds and EQ1 guilds have at least one of those people, we usually find them few and far between. To quote another friend of mine that watched the “film”:
Looking at the stereotypes they portrayed reminds me of the Dark Ages… err… the 70’s and 80’s… when AD&D got such a bad rap for being evil. I used to save the news clippings to share with my groups. The typical story was of a dude that killed someone (or multiples) and/or committed suicide, and how police found “Dungeons and Dragons material in his house.
Although there are a lot of gamers that fit some of the stereotypes in the film, there’s also a lot of us who don’t. We have jobs, families, stocked shelves, toilet paper, RL friends, other hobbies, etc… and also play MMORPGs. I’d like to see a follow-up story about some of us.
After watching Second Skin I felt dirty and ashamed. I did not feel the film did anything but set all of us gamers back 10 years in how we are portrayed. South park was bad enough, but we all took that one on the chin. This movie is an hour long exploration into a bunch of idiots that are not able to function in real life.
Now, if you all want something better head on over and check out the Discovery Channel HD’s fine mini series about gamers, games and how the effect lives and the economy. This show is called Gamer Generation and you can catch some episodes on You Tube.