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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Documentary on multiplayer online games

If parents want to understand what's so appealing about MMORPGs ("massively multiplayer online role-playing games"), they might check out a new documentary on the subject, Second Skin. Of the 50 million people who play multiplayer online games, 50% feel they are addicted, the doc reports. It offers insights into who plays these videogames, such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft (the latter grosses $1.2 billion a year, Second Skin reports). Viewers meet all kinds of players, from those who say they're addicted and how they became so to players who've fallen in love with each other in a game (before meeting offline) to "disabled players whose lives have been given new purpose to gold farmers, entrepreneurs and widows," its creators say, adding that "Second Skin opens viewers' eyes to a phenomenon that may permanently change the way human beings interact." On the subject of dating, the doc (which is about 90 min. in length), says one in three women gamers date someone they met in a virtual world and that, for every one female gamer, there are 10 single male gamers. The Guardian gives it a thumbs-up. If you have the time and interest, it's free for the viewing today here.

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Anonymous Tony said...

Interesting... and raising awareness. useful for everybody !

2:25 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Agamenoni said...

I really like your blog. Man, you write a lot. I watched that Second Skin movie the other evening and it was a little frightening. I think it shed somewhat of a negative light on World of Warcraft. What was your take on the whole thing? It was a little difficult to gauge your opinion. I remember being extremely engaged and immersed in WoW at the beginning but only play occasionally now after I achieved level 80. Leveling for me was most of the fun.

And by the way, did they get you playing yet?

3:20 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

Tx for your comments, Tony and Jeff.

No, Jeff, I know some amazing educators who are players and have a very cool guild I could join, but I haven't found the time yet. Have learned a lot from them, though. The best part of the doc, to me, was about an hour in when it took a thoughtful, diverse look at anonymity and identity - how people represent themselves and interact in-world. Was also moved by what the disabled players said in the documentary (and thought the experts were great and added a lot). Yes, the addiction stories were/are a little scary, as is the way virtual and real get blurred, but change and the unknown have always been a little scary, as well as neutral, neither all good nor all bad, I think. And, as in real life, there is tragedy, and that is always sad.

One thing the film brings out very well, I think, is how completely individual players' experiences are. It shows very well how impossible it is to make generalizations like "MMORPGs and videogames are addictive." Yes, to some.

I liked how one player put it near the end that some people maybe spend too much time watching football on TV or whiling away the hours in bars and this is just what he did. I thought to myself that it's just that those other pastimes have been with us so long that they've become acceptable, while his isn't to some people just because it's an unknown, it's new. Interesting stuff, eh? Tell me more of what you thought! And tx again.

4:21 PM  

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