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Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Second Skin - MMO Documentary

Second Skin takes an intimate, disturbing look at three sets of computer gamers whose lives have been transformed by online virtual worlds. An emerging genre of computer software called Massively Multiplayer Online games, or MMOs, allows millions of users to interact simultaneously in virtual spaces. Of the 50 million players worldwide, 50 percent consider themselves addicted. From individuals struggling with addiction to couples who have fallen in love without meeting; from disabled players whose lives have been given new purpose to gold farmers, entrepreneurs and widows, Second Skin opens viewers’ eyes to a phenomenon that may permanently change the way human beings interact — and with possibly devastating consequences.

Dan Bustard sacrificed everything to his MMO addiction. Dan, once a prosperous businessowner with a luxurious house, car and loving fiancé, ended up living in his nephew's empty basement, playing his game 20 hours a day and using soda bottles as toilets. Fearing death or destitution, Dan enrolled himself in The Safe Haven, a rehab center for online gamers. It proved to be “the worst mistake of my life. After fleeing The Haven, Dan returned to his nephew’s house only to relapse into his old habits. Gradually, he began a slow recovery, on his own terms. And as he begins to regain his old life, his nephew sinks deeper and deeper into his own MMO addiction, more severe than Dan’s, and with far more severe consequences.

Kevin Keel met Heather Cowan on the Peaks of Everfrost, in the virtual world of Norrath. The two fell in love as a knight and a cleric slaying dragons. After blindly declaring their love online, they met for the first time in reality in October. Four months later, Kevin drove halfway across the country on Valentine's Day to move in with Heather. With the backdrop of various married couples who met in MMOs, viewers follow Heather and Kevin as they translate their virtual-world relationship into the real world. Can the two continue their actual relationship with the success of the fantasy-land relationship they’ve had thus far?

Fort Wayne, Indiana, is home to a thriving MMO community that lives, works and games together. Andy is a seasoned MMO gamer who currently raids nightly in World of Warcraft along with his wife, Karalee. Their neighbors, Anthony, Chris and Matt, converted their living room into the Fortress of Dorkitude, where they also play MMOs for 40-plus hours a week. They are part of a larger group of gamers, most of whose members work together at a cell phone company, live in close proximity, hit bars on the weekends and play WoW constantly. Fort Wayne introduces viewers to this phenomenon and takes them deeper into it. Watching the group interact is watching MMO culture spoken, without the avatars.

Alongside these three strands, Second Skin ventures to China to explore the world of Gold Farming: sweatshops where millions of Chinese workers spend 20-hour days playing MMOs to earn virtual gold that is sold for real money. The movie also addresses virtual worlds through the lens of the disabled, who live out much richer lives through these online spaces, as well as guilds, massive groups of gamers who meet inside the games and are often closer than family.

Check out the official site.

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