Positive or negative, many of the stories in Second Skin are intensely personal and intimate, which Escoriaza admits he had trouble with. After spending years filming these gamers and chronicling their stories, there was a trust there that had evolved, and he "felt like part of their lives - we all did ... there's a very close bond created with all of the subjects, and going into the editing room I was, many times, terrified, trying to understand what this story was and how to tell it best." Some footage was left on the editing room floor, of course. "In the end, it was to be brutally honest and let the voices speak for themselves. The hope and the intent all along was to say 'Here is what each person said, and why they did, or reacted, or acted in the ways that they did.'"
When asked about which of the stories resonated the most with people, Escoriaza says that it naturally depends on the viewing audience. Gamer audiences tend to relate to the story about the four gamers living together in Fort Wayne, Indiana. On the other hand, the love story tends to appeal to older audiences and women. In a more academic group, the addiction story would generate a lot of discussion - but overall, they found that the single story that hit home for the most people was the short segment about Andrew Monkelban, a disabled gamer who found that he could thrive in an online environment. (An opinion which this particular writer agrees with wholeheartedly)
With all the stories and messages found in Second Skin, the final question I had for its director was a tough one: "If you had to pick one message - one lesson - that you wanted people to take away from the film, what would it be?"
A difficult summation given the breadth and complexity of the issue, to be sure. "Coming from the fact that I feel really embedded in online culture in general, where my fingers are glued to the keyboard," Escoriaza muses, "I feel we need to talk about it. We need to discuss how we're going to keep on going."
"I might want to be embedded online for the rest of my life, but I feel that my eyes don't look at things normally anymore. I'm so used to this constant flow of information from me to the computer and back. The message should be education and awareness of where we are today."
So yes, if he hopes Second Skin does anything, it's simply to get people talking as "a precaution as we move into the next stage of our evolution ... we need to ask ourselves: 'Should we be farther in, or should be wary of how far in we are today?'"
Of course, it isn't all virtual worlds. Lately, Escoriaza admits that he's spent most of his gaming time playing the recent XBLA title, 'Splosion Man. "I keep playing it because it's so addictive," he laughs.
Believe me, we know the feeling - and as Second Skin shows, so does he.