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Fight Club. The Empire Strikes Back. The Sixth Sense. Depending on your tastes in film, you may or may not agree that these movies represent some of the best examples of the medium from their respective genres. You may also have noticed that there’s a common element between them: each contain a 180 degree plot twist so great that it completely alters the viewer’s perspective of the movie and everything that has happened in it. In some films, this ascends the ordinary into the extraordinary; in others, it works against the viewing experience. Regardless, there is one thing we can all agree on: it royally sucks when someone ruins a movie by revealing that plot twist!

Chocolate River

FireFly fans everywhere are shocked!

So why is it less of a taboo in gaming, especially on the Internet? Too many times I have found myself casually browsing a news blog or a forum post on the Internet, only to read comments such as “It’s too bad the main character dies just when the game picks up” or “I hate it when the game takes character x from your main party”. I have no problem talking about the plot of games when a discussion is appropriately marked. In fact, replaying games and exploring the events that occur throughout with like-minded people is one of my favourite activities but there’s nothing worse than stumbling onto a plot thread when you were given no prior warning.

Some would say the risks are par for the course if you want to follow gaming news or information closely and there’s a lot of truth to that. I recently had a debate with a friend over defining a “spoiler phase” – a period of time in which a website or forum should try to prevent any plot details from being posted. Three months sounded like a sensible amount of time, but I presented the counter-argument that due to either time or money constraints, even those who keep up-to-date with game releases don’t always get to play them straight away.

Then there’s the argument that games are “just for fun”, and anyone who gets worked up over story spoilers should calm down. I disagree. We all play games for completely different reasons; to compete, to relax, to complete, and to escape. One of the interesting facets of gaming is that the level of entertainment drawn from each game varies greatly from person to person. However, this in turn means that each individual will value very specific elements of each game, and these don’t match for everyone. Personally, I generally play games for the overall experience, and in most cases story factors heavily into that.

Spoiler of the year 2006

 

So the next time you’re passionately describing a game to a mate who hasn’t had the pleasure of playing through it, try to take a moment to recall how awesome it was to experience that game for yourself and mark spoilers appropriately. That’s a New Year resolution I think we can all keep!

  • Darach

    *Spoiler Warning!*

    Vengeance is sometimes an option.
    There was a guy at uni who used to take great delight in ruining the ending of movies for people. He had a part-time job at a local cinema and used this to his mailicious advantage every chance he got.

    However, Karma, meaning me and a mate, waited for a chance.
    It came when he decided he had to go see ‘The Usual Suspects’, he’d been looking forward to it for ages.

    “It’s Kevin Spacey.”, we said.
    “What?”
    “The villain; Keyser Soze. It’s Kevin Spacey. The whole film, you think it’s not, but at the end it is.”.

    The look on face could’ve defined the very concept of misery. :)

  • http://ready-up.net/author/city/ City

    I’m quite pleased, no ones managed to spoil much for me. Someone came very close with Dead Space.. and I Still havent finished it.. so no one best dare tell me!

    But I get what you mean..
    Paul was flicking through a walkthrough for a game a few days ago, and they could have left out story parts from it, but they chose not to, and it meant about an hours worth of game play was kinda ruined.

    But there are always big mouths, so it will always happen..

  • Kat

    Thankfully I’ve avoided most of the “big ones” when it comes to games, but I’ll never forgive the certain someone who thought it was a good idea to get me to watch Sixth Sense by describing the ending to me.

    I’ve been a little more vehement about avoiding spoilers since then.

    The “blackout” period of open discussion is something I hadn’t thought about. As you know, I couldn’t play MGS4 immediately due to my lack of a PS3, and it certainly felt like there was no regard at all for the individuals in my position, but then it had been out quite some time. Enough time? I don’t know, but as an individual hung up on multiple plot points, it certainly felt like the entire internet was out to ruin the experience for me.

    The alternative angle for this discussion is Empire Strikes Back. I might have enjoyed the trilogy if only the entire world hadn’t been spoiling it since the day I was born. Why is it considered acceptable to spoil even “common knowledge” spoilers? With each new generation there are thousands of people who have no idea what you’re talking about! But then we come around again to when the blackout period is lifted. We can’t keep them all a secret forever, no matter which way you look at it.

  • Lordstar

    I make a point of asking where someone is up to in a game if im going to talk about it.

    As for who ever just mentioned the usual suspects reference. You are lucky i have seen that film. Some one wrecked the 6th sense for me about two hours before I saw the film. I swung my foot so hard they were tasting nuts for a week. I dont mean the dry roasted kind either. I dont like using guides but i can understand why. not everyone wants to actauly try to acheive something they just want to play it once get everything score all the eaons find the dark aeons collect all 120 stars and save the universe and boiknk the princess (not all in the same game) on the first time. I mean they suck for following the guide like that but thats there choice and losing the excitement along the way is one of the things they will never be able to get back.

  • Tony

    I was totally shocked (and also felt a bit sick) when I completed the new Tomb Raider and found out at the end that the twist is that Lara is a pre-op transsexual who was born Larry.

    Shocking!

  • Lordstar

    i was going to say you ruined tomb raider for me then ! but that would imply that i actually liked it before i said that. which i dont :-p

  • aagl

    Back in 2004, when I played through Halo for the first time, I happened to browse through a fan page and caught sight of something called “the Flood.” Later that day, I talked to my friend about what I’d read; he refused to tell me anything, encouraging me to find out for myself. And later than that, I went far enough in the game to experience what my friend had, wisely, kept a complete (and perfectly terrifying) surprise.

    Keeping it mum does indeed make a difference.

  • Lorna

    I tend to avoid threads and magazine articles about games I intend to play which can make for a lonely experience as everyone else chats and enthuses abut a game I haven’t come round to playing yet, but rather that than having it spoilt! As it is, the big tradgedy in FF7 was ruined for me by accident while I was browsing something but I found it hard to be annoyed as the game has been out forever and I see no way of playing it now, even if I can bring myself to play a turn-based rpg :(

  • http://ready-up.net Kirsten

    I like the subtle title of this blog. Very clever. My Mum spoiled a game for me recently that I haven’t even started playing. So I killed her.