“Oh wait, don’t talk to me about that game. I’m in full media blackout for it right now and don’t want anything spoiled.” This is a line I’ve heard many a time from a friend of mine over the last several years. They’re (obviously) very much the sort that like to go into their games blind, with absolutely no idea what to expect from either the gameplay or the story. In short they, like many of those on the internet, don’t like spoilers; even when the game in question has been out for months or even years. I understand why. Discoveries and revelations are fun; I even enjoy them quite a bit myself. However, I also think that we place them on too high of a pedestal. Being surprised is fun and all, but knowing what’s coming can be just as fun, if not even more so.
(Spoilers for the Prey: First Hour demo and Mass Effect 2 are found below. You’ve been warned.)
There was once a time when I absolutely detested spoilers. “Don’t tell me anything” I’d say, “I want to find out for myself.” I’m not sure how long this went on for but I am sure that something changed in the months before Mass Effect 2 launched. I don’t remember how, but I’d somehow found out that Commander Shepard dies at some point in Mass Effect 2. I remember being angry about discovering it before playing the game, but that eventually gave way to a multitude of questions. “How does it happen?”, “Why would BioWare kill him off?”, “How will this affect the gameplay?” I needed these questions answered. I needed to know more!
Before I knew it, I found myself diving head-first into all manner of speculation and community theories. Some thought the game would throw players into the shoes of Shepard’s successor. Others thought that Shepard faked his own death. The theories and discussions were endless, and I scooped it all up with my big wooden spoon of curiosity and enjoyed every last morsel of it. On it went until the game released and I finally got to see how it happened. Even though I knew it was coming at some point, Shepard’s death scene still had plenty of impact; enough to even leave me silent for a time. If I had gone in blind, that would have been the end of it, but since I kept up with the discussion before launch I got the added satisfaction of seeing just how close or far-off the speculation was. The same held true for the rest of the game as well. Truly, after Mass Effect 2, getting “spoiled” for a game or even a movie lost much of its sting for me.
There’s an old cliche that goes something like “it’s about the journey, not the destination”. It’s cliche because everyone’s heard it an excessive amount of times. Yet I repeat it here because it, like so many other cliches, is surprisingly applicable. Knowing something about a game really doesn’t do all that much. In fact, all it does is create questions to answer. As an example let’s take a look at the recently released demo for Prey.
(I am going to briefly talk about two potentially spoiler-y things in the demo. If you really don’t want to know anything going into this one, than read no further.)
One of the first things players of the demo will discover is that nothing is as it seems. When the demo first starts, Morgan Yu (the player character) is presented as someone who’s about to start work at his brother’s company. He wakes up, takes a helicopter to the company building and undergoes some “routine” tests meant to clear him for work. Something happens during the tests, and Morgan very quickly discovers a horrible truth: it was all a lie. The rest of the demo is spent piecing together what’s actually going on. This particular rabbit hole is one that just keeps on going, so I’m going to switch gears a bit. In the demo, Morgan comes across a tool called the “GLOO Cannon”. It’s a device that allows the player to immobilize enemies and create climbable surfaces. And…that’s all I’m going to share about the demo.
Both of the topics I just covered could be considered spoilers, but has learning about them actually done? If I’m guessing right (and I pretty sure I am), then learning about these things just created questions. “How does Morgan find out?”, “How much of it was a lie?”, “What does GLOO stand-for and what exactly can I do with it?” For me, having questions I want answered adds an extra layer of motivation to playing the game as well as another angle to view it from. In short, I think knowing a bit about the game, even major events, can add at least much as it takes away from the experience.
Wanting to avoid spoilers is perfectly fine, and is absolutely a valid way to approach one’s games. Spoilers aren’t always just “spoilers” though. Instead of ruining the experience, they could very well make it all the better. It’s just a matter of focusing on what’s surrounding the “spoiler” rather than the “spoiler” itself.
What do you think about spoilers? Do you like going into a game blind or do you not mind knowing some things beforehand?
Lede image captured by Hatm0nster