This morning I watched the documentary “Second Skin,” an intimate look at three sets of online gamers whose lives have been transformed by virtual worlds. The games in question are MMORPG’s, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games; or MMO’s for short.
MMORPG isn’t the only new term I picked up, there’s also: WoW (World of Warcraft), EQ2 (Everquest 2), IRL (in real life), WoWhead (someone who’s heavily into World of Warcraft), goldfarmers (businesses in China that consist of gamers with the sole purpose of gathering things to sell to other gamers) and WoWwidow (lady who loses her man to the game).
Having never been at all interested in video games myself, I was a little floored by this movie. I thought I was prepared: I heard about these online gamers, I saw Penny get addicted on “The Big Bang Theory,” I read articles in magazines. I was definitely not prepared for how ravenous people are for these online games. A new game went on sale and made $96million in one night. That same year, the largest one day movie gross was $60million.
When they say they play for sixteen hours JOKER123 straight, they’re not kidding. Not only do they play for sixteen hours straight, they don’t take any breaks–at all. There are few bathroom breaks (bottles are used), no sleep breaks, no beverage breaks (Andy gets a cooler and ice) and any food breaks must be fast and hand-held. A couple of the profiled gamers put on over fifty pounds while playing these games.
Even with this obsessive behavior all over the place, the documentary was fair and represented multiple points of view. They didn’t bury these compulsive gamers as much as they could have. In fact, they even showed how online games opened up a new world for a boy with severe cerebral palsy.
Despite the impartial treatment, I felt almost nauseous while watching. It was painful to see what this addiction was doing to these gamers and their families. Even the positive moments, which showed people moving forward in their real lives, came off as depressing and pathetic. It wasn’t believable or realistic that any of them could truly break free from the game.