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SyntaxError avatar 6:03 AM on 08.08.2009  (server time)
Second Skin: MMO Gamers are people too

[over on The Escapist, a video (a full movie at that) is posted for the movie: Second Skin. It chronicles the lives of a few MMO-obsessives, and shows them dealing with sudden changes in their lives. You can watch it here if you're American or here, if you're not.]*

If there was a group that took the most flak from people who don't play games, it would be the MMO gamers. Being a gamer in a society where games are deemed as "for kids" is bad enough, but being an MMO gamer will bring you a whole 'nother level of suck. The typical stereotype would be that you are glued infront of the computer monitor, day in and day out, playing your drug of choice, only pausing for the odd call of nature or meal. And while this stereotype is true for certain people, what we forget is that, like us, they are also gamers.

Try as we might, deconstructing the genre to find just what is it about it that lures people in, we can't seem to find a definitive answer.

This is where Second Skin comes in. It helps paint a better picture of MMO gamers and their world. The film is a documentary about a few people who played MMO's. There are people whose online love-affair crosses over to the real world. There are people who formed groups with other MMO gamers, and their level of camaraderie is greater than what they could have formed in the real world. It also chronicles the journey of a hopelessly addicted WoW player. There are a lot more, and I'd probably waste a lot of time trying to list them all. Face it, if there was a shortcut to obtaining that gear you've wanted, you'd most likely take it.

Other than the people, it also gives insight on MMO's as a social phenomenon. The viewer is served different statistics on certain things within the MMO community (surprise, surprise, one in three females are actually in an online relationship). It also tackled the 'sensitive' issue of gold farmers for WoW in China. If there was one thing in the movie that illuminates the reason why people opt for RMT (Real Money Trading), it's stated quite definitively here. A designer for Dark Age of Camelot summarizes that virtual items have no intrinsic value. When you trade for items using real-world dollars, what you pay for is the time necessary for one to obtain such an item. This puts a new meaning to the phrase "MMO's are a time investment".

I highly recommend this documentary. MMO gamers will be easily able to relate, as most of the subjects tackled hit close to home and other gamers and non-gamers alike will gain valuable insight to this phenomenon.

* the video will only be legally available for streaming until the 13th, so you have until then to watch it without thinking of the moral conundrums that is streaming movies off the net.

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