Second Skin is a compelling, sometimes troubling look into the world of online gaming. Games such as World of Warcraft and Everquest are vastly popular right now, huge cash cows and to some evidence of the Internet’s more pernicious tendencies. The easy knock on these games is that they are so insidiously addictive that they are one more way society is falling apart—that we are raising a generation of soft-bodied, brain-addled computer rats. But director Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza deserves credit for not just presenting this phenomenon as a social ill and blight. These games offer something like a whole new world, a world of empowerment, beauty and purpose to young people often stuck in dead-end jobs in a society that is callous about their future fates. Undergirding Pineiro Escoriaza’s tales of addiction is a healthy dose of implied social criticism. And while addiction and the high cost of gaming is illustrated brilliantly, the film also shows that healthy relationships, even of a romantic nature, can be formed during gaming. Second Skin is always entertaining, thought-provoking and packs a surprising emotional punch.
Second Skin, Liberation Entertainment. 94 min. Unrated. List Price $19.95.