It takes a few minutes to really get caught up in You Only Live Twice, the news show about the virtual world computer game Second Life, but once you do this documentary is as interesting as the game probably is.
You Only Live Twice -aka the title of a James Bond novel-airs Wednesday April 30th on CBC Newsworld. Check your local listing for the exact time because of the hockey playoffs.
The show starts of rather clumsily with the journalist registering with Second Life, creating an avatar (computer game character), and messing around in the introduction program.
It then gets really interesting as it covers pretty much all aspects of Second Life, asks all the questions most people, even those who know nothing about the phenomenon would ask, and gets real answers from real experts who are sometimes real people and sometimes important characters / creators in the game.
I it the first time I have seen such perfect shots of a computer program transformed for TV purposes. Viewers get the same look at the alternate reality game as the players.
Amongst the experts consulted for this Second Life documentary are the game's creators, major sellers inside this world like the fashion designer and the virtual land baron who made the cover of Business World, and virtual economy experts such as Professor Ted Castronova -whose avatar is a bit more studly than the real Castronova.
Second Life creator Philip Linden aka Philip Rosedale is also interviewed and actually blushes when asked about the seedy, raunchier side of this virtual world.
Also interviewed are the virtual guy who sells all the virtual sex toys in the game and gives a virtual interview to the virtual journalist; a law expert, and others.
This is all fascinating but what makes You Only Live Twice far above most news show documentaries is it asks real questions about virtual reality such as what is virtual rape or how real is a virtual economy or ownership of something that does not exist.
It also does something no show about the world of the internet, computers, games, programs, etc has ever done and questions the reality of what the virtual world presents in terms of numbers.
At the 2007 air date fewer than 7 Million people were registered on Second Life but these registrants only translate into 10% real users and only 5% of those are online at any time. How much is an audience of less than 35,000 people worth?
You Only Live Twice: Once when you are born, once when you look death in the face. (Ian Fleming quoting Japanese philosopher) or is it Once when you are born, once when you look your avatar in the face.
CHECK OUT THIS OTHER SECOND LIFE DOCUMENTARY ON AMAZON: