Second Chance for a Second Life

Cyberspace is an amazing concept. On the inernet, we can pay bills, get answers to questions instantaneously and communicate with people on the other side of the world. The invention of the internet has also lead to the invention of virutal worlds and online games.

Unlike regular console games which are controlled by a limited number of players at one time. MMOG’s or Massively Multiplayer Online Games can handle hundreds of thousands of players simultaneously and therefore must be played on the internet. 

Games like World of Warcraft, Everquest and Second Life have become increasingly popular in the last few years. The reason for their mass appeal? These games are virtual worlds where players can make new identities, interact in real time with other players from around the world and live out their wildest fantasies. 

The problem is however, that because these games require the players to spend a lot of time in these virtual worlds, gamers can become addicted and neglect priorities in the real world like their jobs, their families and friends and even their hygiene and diet.

The movie Second Skin directed and produced by brothers, Juan Carlos Piñeiro Escoriaza and Victor M. Piñeiro III premiered last night at the HotDocs International Film Festival in Toronto. The film explores the subject of online games and the consequences of playing these games. In the film, we are introduced to a number of people, all with fascinating stories. The Ft. Wayne Boys are the first group of friends we meet in the film. They live together, work together and game together for up to 40 hours a week. Another couple we meet in the film are Heather and Kevin who have met each other in the virtual world and meet for the first time in person during the film. Another subject who we meet is Dan, who shares with the audience his struggle with gaming addiction, which he compares to that of alcohol, drugs or gambling. The subjects may live in different parts of the country and have different stories to tell but they are all connected through their love of virtual gaming.

I think it’s fascinating how anyone can become so involved in the game. Maybe that’s my bias though, I am not a huge fan of video games so I don’t see their appeal, but I understand how some people may like it. Maybe a person who works in a mundane 9-5 job would be attracted to having another life in a different world? Or if you have ever wanted to become someone you’re not, then the games allow you to create your alter-ego. Maybe you have always wanted to be a warrior or princess and this is your chance to explore what it would be like to live that way.

Second Skin has a second screening on Wed. April 23 at the Isabel Bader theatre. For more information visit www.hotdocs.ca

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2 thoughts on “Second Chance for a Second Life

  1. I wanted to get tickets to see this documentary badly, but waited until it was too late…!

    The real appeal of these games vary. Second Life is for people who have some sort of genuine dissociative wish, I think, but games like World of Warcraft pull people in with what are actually very primitive psychological controls of small, incremental, progressively difficult rewards…

    A lot of these games are designed in ways that are very brilliant and very dumb at the same time. And they do exploit feelings of being undesirable or unwanted in our society, definitely, but they also leverage sheer social laziness to a certain degree. Whether it’s the only way or merely the easier way for an individual to find meaning in their interactions with others is probably something everyone has to gauge for themselves…

  2. Hi Will,

    I agree with you completely. Games like World of Warcraft become so addictive because you constantly are overcoming a challenge in the game like trying to attain the biggest weapons.

    Some people don’t know when to stop but for others they may realize that they are abandoning other areas of their life but it is a way to deal with the real problems they are faced with, an escape from the real world.

    In the movie they discussed how lazy it can make a person. Hours and hours can go by and they won’t even realize how much time they have spent on their computer. I think it’s kind of scary to see how much time someone can invest in a virtual world.

    Hopefully you get to see the movie. The film was great and also very insightful into a world I know nothing about.

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