Fantasia 2008: Second Skin
Juan Carlos Pineiro-Escoriaza
Second Skin follows the lives of seven people as they delve in to the world of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). The film follows three distinct stories involving seven people.
The most detailed plot line follows Chris, Matt, Anthony and Andy, four friends and housemates living in Indiana. They play WoW as often as they can, and also document their gaming sessions. Tension breaks out amongst the four friends as they ignore the responsibilities in life including Andy whose wife becomes pregnant with twins. She at first supports his hobby (addiction), but slowly begins to disapprove with the amount of time he spends gaming.
The film also follows Dan (a recovering WoW addict whose addiction cost him his relationship, his business and his home before kicking the habit); Liz the founder of Online Gamers Anonymous; Heather and Kevin, a couple whose romance began in Everquest II, and finally Andrew who suffering from physical disabilities finds his own special freedom in the virtual world.
Because of how much ground is covered, Second Skin doesn’t have much time to spend with its subjects. Little screen time given to each story. Yet the film maker documents enough drama to not only keep us entertained but care about each character. Not all the individual stories are concluded but if anything it can be argued that it only helps in leaving a little to the imagination.
The film also avoids passing judgment on any of its subjects and the filmmaker takes care in telling both sides of the story. From the responsible gamers who carry out their normal lives. To those who lose themselves in the game leading to depression, suicide, and other actions that destroy their personal relationships. Director Piniero has a lot of ground to cover and by the end never answers the most important question: are these games good or bad? Do these games bring on anything positive or simply destroy the gamers? Yet despite some complaints some of had with his approach, I think that this is the key to the over all success of the film. Piniero has resisted answering that question. After all who is he to judge?