I just got finished watching Second Skin. Here's the synopsis for anyone unfamiliar with the title:
Second Skin takes an intimate look at three sets of computer gamers whose lives have been transformed by online virtual worlds. An emerging genre of computer software called Massively Multiplayer Online games, or MMOs, allows millions of users to interact simultaneously in virtual spaces. Of the 50 million players worldwide, 50 percent consider themselves addicted. From individuals struggling with addiction to couples who have fallen in love without meeting; from disabled players whose lives have been given new purpose to gold farmers, entrepreneurs and widows, Second Skin opens viewers’ eyes to a phenomenon that may permanently change the way human beings interact.
Sadly, my greatest reservation about Second Skin turned out to be well founded: It clung to very stereotypical cases, studying the kind of people already associated with the MMORPG genre: Overweight addicts who are hurting their family and social life by not being able to manage the habit.
The MMO gamer in me really struggles to relate to that. I've been in numerous guilds and interact daily with many other players, few of which fit that stereotype. On average I'd say most are 18-25, doing well in education or employment, and managing their game life vs. their real life very well. It feels like a bit of a cheap shot, aimed at making the documentary appeal to people who are only familiar with the clichés.
I don't want to come down too hard on that point, because Second Skin is still very well produced and very interesting. For all that the subjects are stereotypical, they are also each in situations which made their actions and attitudes fascinating to observe.
I would call Second Skin a fair and gripping representation of a very slim demographic, which in turn is an unfair representation of the whole. It would have been nice to see a contrast case to clarify that; a young, healthy MMORPG gamer who is doing well academically and socially.
I'd give it a 6/10 (arbitrary scoring system, go!), but the smattering of interesting interviews with experts and games industry noteables helps patch up some of the flaws. There's also a few emotional moments that are fairly hard hitting, even to a stone hearted git like myself. A solid 8/10, well worth a watch.