WARNING! POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD! (Though possibly not?)
Ever since I started giving into my online persona, both in terms of blogging and using social media, I’ve had to tread a fine line when it comes to games and spoilers. Sometimes, spoilers don’t matter, because there have been cases where they actually help build my interest in games that I might not have wanted to play before. But when it comes to games that I do want to play, it always seems that somehow, some way, even if I make the most brief of online appearances somewhere (like glancing through one of my Twitter lists), I’ll come across a spoiler…or ten. Then again, I have a pretty narrow definition of a “spoiler,” so maybe it’s my own fault for being too touchy. Yet, when I invest in a new game that, as usually happens, I’m not able to get to right away, there’s got to be a middle ground between comfortably being able to peruse the Internet and staying offline for a month.
To be clear, I’m neither blaming anyone nor getting all up in arms about a commonality – spoilers are nothing new, and there’s no law that states one must announce SPOILERS! before discussing a game, either written or verbally. What I am is curious to know how sensitive you, the gamers who are not me, are to spoilers. Is a spoiler more than just revealing a major plot point (SPOILER! Aerith dies!) or an ending? (SPOILER! The Princess IS in the castle this time!) If I say (SPOILERS! ahead, maybe), “Jack Marston stinks as a playable character!” is that a spoiler? If I go on about how heartfelt the relationship is between Bayonetta and Cereza is, is that a spoiler? If I tell you that the cruise ship sequence in Uncharted 3 was as brilliant as it was maddening, is that a spoiler? To me, yes, those are spoilers. I consider knowing any new fact about a game prior to me playing it a spoiler. That could mean anything from a new weapon to a new character, from how difficult certain levels are to how easily the game can be beaten. And let me reiterate that the severity of “spoilers” all depend on the game. If you want to tell me all about the end of the single-story mode of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, knock yourself out because I’m not a CoD player. But if you’ve got Final Fantasy XV minutiae on your mind, sorry, but I’m going to have to pass. Nope…I don’t even want to see the elbow armor from a costume. I want to play that game totally sight unseen.
But maybe I really am too easily upset about this, and, in a sense, too old-fashioned. Because what is the Internet if not a way to share information, any information, all information, with anyone and everyone? In fact, the term “overshare” is in the Oxford Dictionary, so it’s official: we like to share our thoughts on and feelings about things a lot. And catching the stray game spoiler just comes with the territory of being a gamer who chooses to be online. It’s like accepting the heartburn you know you’ll have after that delicious, spicy meal. Maybe by know you’ve learned how to mitigate the pain, but you know it’ll come eventually, even if mildly, and that doesn’t make knowing any better.
Why am I plodding over the obvious nature of spoilers in the electronic age here? Because last week saw the release of Batman: Arkham Knight. Last week also saw the arrival of said game in my mailbox. As I am currently embroiled in games that don’t involve Batman (which cannot be given up, for reasons), I knew upon receiving the game that it’d be some time (read: months) before I’d be able to get to being The Batman once again. I also knew that within days of the games’ release there would be tons of talk about Batman and his new exploits from every corner of the gaming Internet. So I did my best to stick to my general spoiler-avoiding/hermit-going routine – for at least two weeks, avoid all game sites, avoid all blogs that mention “Arkham Knight” in the title or tags, avoid #ArkhamKnight on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. I did pretty well for several days. Only then, wanting to check out the latest game news, I blithely opened up the app of a brand name game site on my TV. Lo and behold what should automatically start playing upon checking its “latest news” section but a full-on review of Batman: Arkham Knight. C’mon…really? I shut down that app as quickly as I could, I and seriously thought about deletedit because that seemed like a pretty rotten move – to have a spoilery video start up without any warning. (And it’s not like SPOILERS! appeared anywhere in the video’s title. Maybe there should be a law about that…) At least give me the chance to think about spoiling a game for myself. Please, please, please don’t do it for me.
So that’s my story about spoilers – what’s yours? Do spoilers bother you or not? Are you willing to accept them in exchange for simply being online? And what is a “spoiler” anyway?