To say that video games, particularly massively multiplayeronline games, are popular is like saying Oprah has decent Nielsen ratings. According to Strategy Analytics, in 2008 they generated $1.5 billion in wolrdwide subscription revenues, a figure that’s expected to balloon to at least $2.5 billion by 2012. Variously abbreviated as MMOs, MMOGs, and MMPOGs (or, if of the roleplaying kind, MMORPGs), these games have become an integral part of our social revolution and evolution, altering how we actand interact. But for good or evil?
This is the question I ask in my book "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks." And it's one asked by Juan Carlos and Victor Piñeiro Escoriaza, creators of the award-winning documentary Second Skin.
Every now and again, a film comes around that helps you understand your world a little better. Such is the case with Second Skin, a documentary that focuses on various groups computer gamers "whose lives have been transformed by online virtual worlds" -- be they addicted players, couples who meet and fall in love online; disabled players; or those toiling overseas as "gold farmers" to make digital goodies for richer (and western) players.
For the documentary "Second Skin," filmmakers took six months searching for subjects obsessed with online role-playing games. Eventually, they settled on four subjects, intercutting between them to explore the appeal of the massively popular "World of Warcraft" and "EverQuest" games.
Many potential subjects refused to participate, fearful of the geek label, said writer-producer Victor Piñeiro Escoriaza (in an article I wrote about them for the Boston Globe). He had to reassure them that he and his co-filmmakers were sympathetic gamers themselves. "We're emphasizing the human aspect of the people behind the game."
This month, Second Skin hits the theaters in Somerville (Boston); Austin, LA, and Colorado Springs. Check here for dates and showtimes in your town. In theaters August 7th. On DVD (with Liberation Entertainment) everywhere August 25th.