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Life 2.0 cover image

Life 2.0 2010

Recommended with reservations

Distributed by Ro*co Films International, llc, 80 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 5, Sausolito, CA 94965; 415-332-6471
Produced by Andrew Lauren Productions (ALP), PalmStar Entertainment, Edgeworx Studios
Directed by Jason Spingarn-Koff
DVD, color, 99 min.

Sr. High – General Adult
Economics, Gaming, Law, Media Studies, Psychology, Social Sciences

Date Entered: 12/07/2011

Reviewed by Jennifer Dean, MALS student, City Univerity of New York (CUNY Graduate Center)

Director Jason Spingarn-Koff introduces several different participants of the virtual world Second Life in his documentary Life 2.0. There is a couple that meets online and have their Second Lives intersect with reality, a man coming to terms with his first life problems through the cathartic release of his Second Life avatar (a young girl), and a woman who has learned to create real economic survival through her virtual creations (and successfully copyrights her work through the real-life legal system).

Stylistically the film resembles a long-form sequence of talk-show clips. Characters tell their story with occasional b-roll footage where they demonstrate what they are discussing interspersed with clips of the avatars in Second Life. The male participant – with the avatar of a young girl – appears either blurred, from behind or in shadow for the first two-thirds of the film. Presumably this is done to emphasize the shame associated with being an adult male with a young female avatar and not to actually conceal his identity since he is revealed later in the film. Such instances of manipulation lacking subtlety are quite common in the film, including close-ups of the wedding rings of the Second Life couple and the pounding soundtrack as the man loses all sense of reality with his Second Life obsession.

Despite problems with the execution of the film, the subject matter is engaging on many different levels. It questions the very notion of reality, philosophical issues of the physical world explored through the creation of Second Life, the psychology of the participants involved in this virtual world, and the economic and legal issues of this alter-reality. Unfortunately, the documentary fails to get beyond the surface of these extremely complex issues. Spingarn-Koff includes interviews with Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab (the creators of Second Life) and Rowan Barnett who edits The Avastar, an online magazine dedicated to the news in the virtual world of Second Life, and gives brief context through a few minutes of clips about Second Life presented on television and through YouTube – but spends most of his time with the players (or participants because Second Life is another world, not a game, as is made clear in the documentary). This complex and intriguing topic is definitely worthy of scholarship and this film does illicit many questions but it could use additional contextual footage about Second Life to round out the rather obvious stories of the participants.


  • Best Documentary Feature at the Philadelphia Film Festival 2010