274: Spoiled Rotten

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Spoiled Rotten

"Spoiled" and "ruined" are not synonyms when it comes to videogames. Learning a game's secrets in advance merely opens up new ways to appreciate the experience.

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There is certainly something to be gained by playing a game, watching a film or reading a book when you know the twist but there is also something to be gained by experiencing it NOT knowing. To say that spoliers ruin the experience might not be completely true but they only allow you to experience it one way. For those of us who enjoy the surprise I think that spoliers are just that, if the game/film/book was worth the effort then it is a joy both the first time and then again with a new, more informed, outlook. To know the twist without having played the game I think that you're missing out on half the fun.

Spoiler tags please, now I know how Shadow of the Colossus ends.

T_T

I completely disagree with your premise. You say that you gain hours of enriched experience by being spoiled by sacrificing the split second of surprise, but your experience wasn't so much "enriched" as "different." Knowing Vader is Luke's/Leia's father brings a whole new light into all of their interactions, yes. Watching Star Wars again after that discovery is practically a whole new experience. But NOT knowing isn't just about the surprise, it's about the subtle details leading up to the surprise. It's about the limited 3rd-person perspective given to the viewer so they can experience the journey with the protagonists.

I remember reading Into Thin Air (a good book) and being incredibly frustrated when it started with the equivalent of, "But most of us would die before we got off the mountain." Without giving me that information, it would have been a great book. I would have been able to share in the trials getting up Everest, the triumph at finally reaching the summit, and, finally, the despair, horror, and confusion as people died coming down. Instead, the trials seemed irrelevant; reaching the top only meant people would start dying soon; and the despair, horror, and confusion was nonexistent, I'd prepared myself over the past 200 pages. The spoiler had inoculated me against feeling any strong emotion while reading the book.

Further, spoilers ruin Fridge Brilliance. Knowing Luke and Leia are siblings will cause a squick when you watch Empire Strikes Back. NOT knowing will cause a squick after watching Return of the Jedi when you remember that they kissed earlier. Which is the better experience? I prefer Fridge Brilliance.

Finally, as theexhippy said, you can only experience the game/book/movie in one way: knowing the end. By not being spoiled you can have it all: the experience of not knowing, and the suspense/surprise associated with it AND the experience of knowing when you play through again to see all the subtleties that led up to the twist.

Back when Roger Ebert said games weren't art, there was a lot of argument about what, exactly, constituted art, with a strong faction saying art evoked emotion. In my mind, spoilers ruin the emotional experience. In my mind, spoilers are the equivalent of painting a mustache on the actual Mona Lisa, taking a sledgehammer to the Taj Mahal, or burning 80 frames, at random, out of the last copy of A New Hope. In my mind, spoilers destroy art.

I agree with you 100% on Bioshock. I just recently got around to playing it myself and I knew what was coming, but I appreciated it even more because I got to look at everything in that light. I took note every time Atlas asked me to "kindly" go to the next section, etc.

While I'm on the subject, did anyone else think that the execution of Ryan's death ran completely and utterly contrary to the point they were trying to make about the nature of the player's role in the game experience? I loved the point they were trying to make and how much they set it up, but I hated hated hated the execution of it.

Azuaron:
I completely disagree with your premise. You say that you gain hours of enriched experience by being spoiled by sacrificing the split second of surprise, but your experience wasn't so much "enriched" as "different." Knowing Vader is Luke's/Leia's father brings a whole new light into all of their interactions, yes. Watching Star Wars again after that discovery is practically a whole new experience. But NOT knowing isn't just about the surprise, it's about the subtle details leading up to the surprise. It's about the limited 3rd-person perspective given to the viewer so they can experience the journey with the protagonists.

I remember reading Into Thin Air (a good book) and being incredibly frustrated when it started with the equivalent of, "But most of us would die before we got off the mountain." Without giving me that information, it would have been a great book. I would have been able to share in the trials getting up Everest, the triumph at finally reaching the summit, and, finally, the despair, horror, and confusion as people died coming down. Instead, the trials seemed irrelevant; reaching the top only meant people would start dying soon; and the despair, horror, and confusion was nonexistent, I'd prepared myself over the past 200 pages. The spoiler had inoculated me against feeling any strong emotion while reading the book.

Further, spoilers ruin Fridge Brilliance. Knowing Luke and Leia are siblings will cause a squick when you watch Empire Strikes Back. NOT knowing will cause a squick after watching Return of the Jedi when you remember that they kissed earlier. Which is the better experience? I prefer Fridge Brilliance.

Finally, as theexhippy said, you can only experience the game/book/movie in one way: knowing the end. By not being spoiled you can have it all: the experience of not knowing, and the suspense/surprise associated with it AND the experience of knowing when you play through again to see all the subtleties that led up to the twist.

Back when Roger Ebert said games weren't art, there was a lot of argument about what, exactly, constituted art, with a strong faction saying art evoked emotion. In my mind, spoilers ruin the emotional experience. In my mind, spoilers are the equivalent of painting a mustache on the actual Mona Lisa, taking a sledgehammer to the Taj Mahal, or burning 80 frames, at random, out of the last copy of A New Hope. In my mind, spoilers destroy art.

Its really useful when someone not only gives my argument for me, but does it far better then I could as well.

I like the last sentiment that the discovery is when things begin. But in that vein I want to discover things for myself and then let my own journey through a game begin in that sense. When these stories are written there is a time in which the gamer is supposed to find certain moments. Finding them for yourself is far more rewarding then having someone else hand them to you.

Why read a mystery novel if you know then end. Or when people were running around giving the ending to the harry potter books after each one came out. Sometimes people are being helpful and sometimes its malicious. either way, if someone isn't asking for a plot point then I don't think you should ram it down their throat.

When it comes to story, it depends on whether the the story has a "reveal" or not. There is no real spoiler in telling someone that Frodo is going to have to destroy the Ring, or even that the Ring will be destroyed. These things are assumed. However, knowing HOW the Ring is destroyed sort of ruins any edge-of-your-seat intensity that the ending of Return of the King might induce.

Similarly, when I played FF7 I already knew that Aeris was going to die. Therefore, that great moment that so many people cite as shocking and sad... I felt nothing, because I had played the whole game expecting her death. It was just a matter of not knowing when. Thus, I invested no emotion (or resources) into her. And while the ending of FF10 was still powerful, I wish I hadn't already seen it a few years before I played it. The "death" of Kerrigan, on the other hand... that was shocking, sad, and her subsequent rise left me hoping the entire game that she would choose redemption or freedom from the Zerg.

Bioshock, by the way, is a terrible example for me, only because as I was playing it I said to my friend "Video-game logic says that Atlas will either die or turn out to be an asshole." Having played System Shock 2 probably didn't help to make that any kind of surprise.

Story based issues aside (I'll agree spoiling yourself can ruin a good moment meant to be a harsh punch to the gut ie: the death of Aerith) the game experience is always different the second time through, or when you use a guide. I think we've all inadvertantly wandered intoa boss fight unprepared becaue we didn't know it was coming up, or blew through our ammo supply not knowing there was more to come, or conversely foolishly tried to conserve ammo when the game was either almost over or at a point I'd lose it all anyway. One notable time for me was Resident Evil Code Veronica where near the end of the game you go back to playing Claire instead of Chris. I didn't know Clair's scene was short and took all my good weapons with me, leaving me with Chris fighting the end boss with a few handguns. The next time, I didn't do that.

This doesn't deflate the enjoyment of a game knowing what's coming, but the unexpected and the unkown change our tactics from trying to be adaptable to whatever may come, to always being prepared for the situation coming up. I just find it more exilerating to avoid a death trap I didn't know was there than to avoid it because I know it's coming.

Michael Thomsen:
Learning a game's secrets in advance merely opens up new ways to appreciate the experience.

But it closes off maybe the most important "way to appreciate the experience".

I hate having things spoiled, whether it's story or gameplay elements, because things are always more interesting when you don't know they're coming or you don't have the solution ahead of time.

"I think most gamers that completed Mirror's Edge enjoyed running and jumping and solving puzzles, but the story was just in the background leading the player forward. The game would still be enjoyable without a story," he continues.

Indeed, Mirror's Edge is a series of simulated physical experiences without arbitrary tool upgrades or stat boosts. It draws players through a constructed environment that gradually asks them to do more and more with the mechanics they've had from the beginning. Knowing that you'll end up on a skyscraper rooftop at the end of the game doesn't ruin any of that sensorial exhilaration.

Right there is where I stopped reading (see: ragequit).

I would not have been able to enjoy Mirror's Edge nearly half as much without story. Without motivation. When I play a game, no matter how linear, I get into character. If I have no character to get into, unless it's multiplayer, I don't enjoy the game or get immersed. (EDIT: Unless it's a game like Serious Sam which is so filled with self parody and hilarious events that immersion isn't neccessary to have fun. See: older games. That rarely, if ever, works for newer games. Maybe Duke Nukem Forever...) If I know whats going to happen to the character, I feel like I've given the character some form of precognition, and although I can still enjoy the game (I've played through many games multiple times) I still don't enjoy it half as much as I would if I was surprised.

A good example is Alan Wake. I barely kept an eye on that game when it was in development. But around the time it was finally coming out, I was itching for a good, scary story. So I decided to gamble... I bought the game with such little knowledge about it that I barely understood the mechanics of the game. And you know what?

I fucking LOVED it. Entering his world with no preconcieved notions about how it would play out, mechanically or narratively, made me so immersed in the game that I could only play one episode a night and only after dark.

Now that I've beaten it, I can still enjoy it, but not nearly as much. And do I regret buying the game? Do I feel that the game wasn't really that good to beging with? Do I feel the experience is worth less?

Fuck no. That's like saying the impact of a movie like Star Wars isn't worth nearly as much because everyone knows that (SPOILER ALERT!) Darth Vader was Luke's daddy.

And as for him saying that video games weren't meant to tell a story? That they're meant for the player to tell their own story? In all honesty? Fuck that guy. Fuck him and everything he stands for. The amount of games that really allow a player to tell their own story are slim to none.

People tell me that Fallout 3 is a game like that. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Bullshit, I say! Why? Because your character is given reason for leaving the vault. No matter what, no matter who you are, unless you completely detatch yourself from previous events, killing the opening of the game (or unless you mod it on PC, which makes it much more understandable) the character you create in Fallout 3 will forever be reminded of his missing father, whether it be by the concience of the player or the little quest marker in your whatever-that-armpad-computer-was-called (the name escapes me). That in and of itself makes every possible character that could come from that vault a predetermined character. This doesn't make it any less the player's creation or anything, and I'm not saying the player won't be partially telling his own story of wasteland justice. It's just that games, no matter how free roaming they may seem, will ALWAYS have some linearity to it, whether it be backstory, a built in motive, or the outcome of an event.

And again, this doesn't make the experiences any less worth it. My favorite games are the most linear you can get, and I feel more immersed in them than I ever did with Fallout 3 or Oblivion or any game like it.

But, hey... maybe it's all in my head, and I'm just one insanely immersive gamer that thinks too much on these things. Who knows?

EDIT: I could only imagine the saying "it's not the destination that counts, it's the journey" came up at some point when this article was being written, whether it's in there or not (seriously, I stopped reading it).

For the record: I hate that stupid saying so... fucking... much... what's the point of an exciting journey if the destination isn't nearly as important as what you go through to get there? The resolution should be just a breathtaking as the climax in it's own way. Bah... I'll stop now.

I can agree with the idea that playing a game knowing its plot is not a ruined experience, even if its for the first time. As you say, Bioshock is a case in point - the first time through was fantastic, plot and all, but the second time allowed me to appreciate the nuances in the writing, admire the level design, listen closer to the music and stare out of the windows onto the strangely beautiful city outside. Its only my opinion, but the first playthrough of plot-driven games is about the story with all other elements serving to drive it on, whereas the second allows for a different experience, perhaps a greater appreciation of the work of the developers.

However, I disagree with some of the things the author of this article mentioned. Firstly, just because a spoiled game is a great experience doesn't mean that it becomes equal to an un-spoiled experience in terms of its emotive power. Again, this is just an opinion, but that first playthrough with the plot's secrets intact is the thing that makes me really love a game. Subsequent playthroughs can expand on that, but they could never have built up the connection in the first place, for me at least.

I also have an issue with the final paragraph, which seems a little ridiculous. Saying that without spoilers, 'anyone could have been Luke's father' is absurd. The comparison of a person wary of spoilers to a child leaving their Christmas presents unwrapped is a completely broken analogy - it suggests that a viewer would pause the DVD of the Empire Strikes Back just before Vader's revelation because they can't bear to know what it is and would rather remain in the dark (if they somehow knew when in the film said revelation happened). Maybe I've misunderstood the writer's meaning, but this statement is just ridiculous.

Spoilers are bad when revealed outside of the game's story. When revealed in it, they are (when well-executed) powerful moments of real emotive impact. There is still merit in playing a game where you know the story (I agree with this) but everyone should have the chance to have that first playthrough without knowing the plot. Which is why I'm disappointed that this article contained spoilers for Shadow of the Colossus, a game I haven't played but would really want to. I'm glad to hear the author's views about spoilers, but not to have them subtly imposed on me.

ZeroMachine:
I could only imagine the saying "it's not the destination that counts, it's the journey" came up at some point when this article was being written, whether it's in there or not (seriously, I stopped reading it).

For the record: I hate that stupid saying so... fucking... much... what's the point of an exciting journey if the destination isn't nearly as important as what you go through to get there? The resolution should be just a breathtaking as the climax in it's own way. Bah... I'll stop now.

Actually, it was, but opposite of how you're taking it. Spoilers ruin the journey so they can get you to the destination faster. If the destination's the only important part then you'd want the spoilers so you could get to the destination. People who want the journey don't want to be spoiled.

As far as the actual merits of the statement... both are important. A lame journey means the vast majority of the experience is terrible. A lame destination means the journey was pointless.

Good God! You could not be more wrong! Especially talking about Bioshock. I'm sure that you had an enjoyable experience anticipating the big reveal. There is definitely a lot of value in going back through the game to experience all of the subtle clues that become meaningful when you know what is behind them. But playing through it unspoiled was an amazing experience.

The reveal turns all of your previous motivations and interactions with Atlas to ash. More than that, it turns all of the standard linear gameplay into vital plot points that the player was too blind to see. It then gets reinforced when the only way to continue it to kill Ryan, even if the player doesn't want to. The lack of free will that all games enforce to some extent is thrown back in the player's face with the message, "Even you, in the real world, are under the thrall of Fontaine. And you thought this was just a game."

It was a brilliant twist that I had never experienced before in a game (though I certainly wouldn't claim that Bioshock was the first game to pull the trick). I believe that if the author had experienced Bioshock unspoiled, he would not have written this article. I'm sorry that he didn't get the chance.

theexhippy:
There is certainly something to be gained by playing a game, watching a film or reading a book when you know the twist but there is also something to be gained by experiencing it NOT knowing. To say that spoliers ruin the experience might not be completely true but they only allow you to experience it one way. For those of us who enjoy the surprise I think that spoliers are just that, if the game/film/book was worth the effort then it is a joy both the first time and then again with a new, more informed, outlook. To know the twist without having played the game I think that you're missing out on half the fun.

Agreed 100%.

First of all, when I think about what spoiler means, it always means plot spoilers. So, yeah. Some people think it means telling anything about a game that a player wouldn't know right away, such as "you can find a rocket launcher in Doom". Some people would whine about that being a spoiler, but not me as picking up a rocket launcher that's just sitting on the floor isn't giving me any story details so it's cool by me.

So with that in mind, yes I do think that spoilers ruin your experience with the game. Like the post I quoted says, part of the fun of a good story is when that twist comes and changes everything, usually there are hints or such things leading up to it, or actions a character did that didn't mean anything at the time but looking back now you get it. And then you get to play again and see "Oooooh, that's what that was about." But if some inconsiderate prick on a forum who can't be assed to warn about spoilers or doesn't mark them properly* comes along and ruins part of the game for you, you just lost part of the experience. And for me when it happens, now I'm always sitting there thinking "Okay so when does this part that the stupid asshole spoiled come up? Is it now? I hope it's soon so I can go back to not knowing that something is going to happen."

While spoilers may not completely ruin a game, they certainly does take away from the overall experience of playing it in some way. If a game is still really good you'll keep playing it anyway, but there's no getting back that lost piece of the experience no matter what you do. To claim that there's no reason to care about spoilers at all is just silly.

*Example of a thread title I saw on a Dead Rising 2 forum:


See the spoiler warning doesn't work when YOU PUT IT AFTER THE SPOILER ASSHOLE!!

Where a linear story can be confining. I strongly feel without those limits, some great stories would lose structure, purpose and overall message. Whatever's appropriate for whatever game. I playing solely story based games, mainly SMT and Persona, tend to prefer the linearity with some choice or illusion of control.

mjc0961:

theexhippy:
There is certainly something to be gained by playing a game, watching a film or reading a book when you know the twist but there is also something to be gained by experiencing it NOT knowing. To say that spoliers ruin the experience might not be completely true but they only allow you to experience it one way. For those of us who enjoy the surprise I think that spoliers are just that, if the game/film/book was worth the effort then it is a joy both the first time and then again with a new, more informed, outlook. To know the twist without having played the game I think that you're missing out on half the fun.

Agreed 100%.

First of all, when I think about what spoiler means, it always means plot spoilers. So, yeah. Some people think it means telling anything about a game that a player wouldn't know right away, such as "you can find a rocket launcher in Doom". Some people would whine about that being a spoiler, but not me as picking up a rocket launcher that's just sitting on the floor isn't giving me any story details so it's cool by me.

So with that in mind, yes I do think that spoilers ruin your experience with the game. Like the post I quoted says, part of the fun of a good story is when that twist comes and changes everything, usually there are hints or such things leading up to it, or actions a character did that didn't mean anything at the time but looking back now you get it. And then you get to play again and see "Oooooh, that's what that was about." But if some inconsiderate prick on a forum who can't be assed to warn about spoilers or doesn't mark them properly* comes along and ruins part of the game for you, you just lost part of the experience. And for me when it happens, now I'm always sitting there thinking "Okay so when does this part that the stupid asshole spoiled come up? Is it now? I hope it's soon so I can go back to not knowing that something is going to happen."

While spoilers may not completely ruin a game, they certainly does take away from the overall experience of playing it in some way. If a game is still really good you'll keep playing it anyway, but there's no getting back that lost piece of the experience no matter what you do. To claim that there's no reason to care about spoilers at all is just silly.

*Example of a thread title I saw on a Dead Rising 2 forum:


See the spoiler warning doesn't work when YOU PUT IT AFTER THE SPOILER ASSHOLE!!

These two have said it better than I could. But I'd like to provide another example of how a game can be ruined by spoilers. Jade Empire.

Its one of the few games where I believe you need to play through twice. Once with an open mind and not knowing of any spoiler, and again now that you do know. Its amazing how you can look at things differently, but if you never played it spoiler-free, then your depriving yourself of the full experience.

While I agree with many of your points, I do not completely agree with your premise. Your analogy of the little girl and her perpetually wrapped gifts ignores the deep and captivating emotions of anticipation and wonder. It is part of the experience of the gift. That is what makes it a gift, not just a toy. You say that if the gift is worth having it shouldn't need the wrapping, but it is the wrapping that makes aquisition all the sweeter. Should the gift be carried entirely on the wrapping? Of course not, no more so than Star Wars is entirely about finding out who Luke's father was. A well made game shouldn't just be about the surprise, but having surprise can add to it an emotional experience you would otherwise not have. And that can't be a bad thing. That's why so many of us have games we like to play over and over even though we know how it ends. Your experience with Bioshock seemed to me simply a second playthrough without the first. You would have had the same experince playing through a second time, while also having the experience of the first.
I agree that games should not be only about the surprise, but surprise is a perfectly valid device for story telling.
I have more to say on storytelling in games, but this is already too long.

It's great that you had such a great experience playing Bioshock!

Me, personally, I had -two- great experiences playing Bioshock. The first time when I was surprised, and the second time when I wasn't. I'm not quite sure though why you seem to to believe that taking away one of two great experiences from me is a positive thing...

I think this is completely ridiculous. A game can still be fun if it's been spoiled for you, yes.

But the thing is, the experience is lessened slightly by being spoiled; your shock and emotional attachment are lessened. Had I not been spoiled as to who the murderer was in Persona 4, I would've been much more outraged once I found out; had the plot twist for Silent Hill: Shattered Memories not been spoiled for me, I would have been /completely/ shocked and the game probably would have had more of an impact on me. The rides to the ends of those games were still great, but not nearly as fulfilling because I'd been spoiled.

Spoilers can destroy and experience for me. Having something spoiled before the first time I've experienced it is completely different than when I go back and experience a second time. The second time I played through Bioshock I got to appreciate all the subtle things that were strewn about leading up to the surprise twist, and my appreciation of these subtleties was amplified by the fact that I get to see them through the perspective of someone who got to have the surprise realization that the creators intended.

Because I was already invested in the game seeing the subtleties in my second play through meant that much more to me rather than seeing them as someone who had never played the game before and just being able to point them out.

I also think that spoilers remove the intended impact that the creator of a piece of art is trying to convey. When someone is writing out a story ( especially one involving twists of some kind ) they are doing it with the impression that they are going to typically be conveying it to a person who won't see it coming. They are trying to weave the emotional impact the tale has on a person, and spoilers can completely break what they are trying to do.

I have to disagree with you on this. When you reveal a spoiler to someone you are essentially stealing from them (unless they want to know). You are correct that sometimes knowing something can actually enrich the experience, but I am free to embrace this experience at anytime. Once told however I can never again experience that aspect and all the choices that stemmed from not knowing. You essentially "forced" an experience with a game on me that you want me to have.

You acknowledge in your article that "the knowledge" in question can influence game play and so equally can the lack of that knowledge. If someone chooses to check out a spoiler do I think it detracts from their own game play? Sure, but the importance of that knowledge differs from person to person. Some people buy a game, grab the cheats and run through the entire game in god mode. Many people would view it as a boring waste of time, but I wouldn't advocate removing the cheats to force people to play the way I feel they should play.

When you take away someones choice you are stealing something unique and wonderful that can never be given back.

It's funny but when I bought Dragon Age I played through it several times exploring all kinds of different options. Overall I would say I probably got over 80 hours of enjoyment out of it. By contrast my brother later picked up a copy of Dragon Age for the PC (having never played it). He played it normally for about an hour or so before checking online grabbing the console cheats and modding his character to level of supreme being.

After employing his cheats he probably played a sum total of 4 more hours and never even neared completing the game. What he fails to realize is that key aspect of a game is some sort of challenge. When you have nothing to lose or gain the battle is meaningless after the novelty wears off. All total his $60.00 purchased him 6 hours of entertainment.

When we are children we dream about being adults and having the power to get the things we want. When our age out paces our maturity we become so enamored with the destination of gratification that we forget about the pleasure of the journey.

Ok so I knew how KOTOR ended before I got to the big reveal

most would say that knowing the twist before-hand ruins it but IMO if I can guess a reveal HOURS before it comes up, I'm looking at your Rouge Galaxy, than it's generally a "well obviously!" moment anyway. Like when one of the guys from THE AMBIGUOUSLY GAY DUO reveals that he is in fact gay.

I think the best point has already been made. If you know the spoiler you can still have a nice experience. If you don't, you can have two different nice experiences. I'll take the latter any day.

There's a certain confusion between plot twists and gameplay twists in here. Gameplay twists really aren't that important. I flipped out when I read that you turn into a colossus at the end of SotC (seriously, what the fuck?) not because I was thinking, 'oh no the gameplay will change!' but because of what it meant to the character. Gameplay twists are commonplace, every vehicle section is one. Plot twists are not.

The problem is that making a good story is hard, so game writers often stick in a plot twist to give the players the illusion that they're watching a good story with several layers when they're actually watching a 'You see, we all live in a jar of Tang!' story. There's a difference between a plot twist and a non-comical punchline and game writers can't seem to see it.

To drive the point home, here's a game no one mentioned: Portal. GladOs being an evil thing is no spoiler because it turns up early on, right? Wrong. The fact that she's not quite well in the digital head analogue is slowly delivered through the game, and because I knew he was supposed to be funny and kept expecting her to deliver the funny one-liners I had read about while the game was still setting her up she had a lot less of an impact to me, until her true nature was revealed and my expectations matched to what the game thought they were. And yet most players wouldn't say this is a plot twist, and they'd be right - the game never goes around and says 'GladOs is nice OH PSYCHE' but he lets you assume that then pulls the rug out from under you. Because I didn't know that (and didn't even know I had to assume it) the experience was lessened. That's what spoiler kills, not the cheap punchline.

ZeroMachine:
And as for him saying that video games weren't meant to tell a story? That they're meant for the player to tell their own story? In all honesty? Fuck that guy. Fuck him and everything he stands for. The amount of games that really allow a player to tell their own story are slim to none.

Oh no. You didn't just say 'fuck you' to Dwarf Fortress on my watch. Allow me to crank the anger to eleven.

The reason there are few games that let you tell your own story is not because that's not a good way to make a game, it's because ninety nine percent of everything is shit and that includes shit-headed game devs who cannot conceive of what a game is outside of the ridiculous retarded walls they set in their fucking little heads. (That, and technical limitations.) But see, the thing is, pretty much anything can tell a story. I can tell a story using toilet paper and my own shit if I want to (I don't). But games can allow the player to create their on story, and thus create something unique for them. If you can't see how a story a player creates is better than one he just looks at, even if he's experiencing it vividly as a character, then I'm really sorry for your parents. You probably remember the TV shows you watched better than the toys you played with, like your little sibling.

The reason games tell stories is because people are used to that and see no other use to them. But their potential is much greater, and even if they're fumbling in the dark people like... um... Passage guy who has the hard to spell last name are trying to make it happen. It's a technical hurdle as well as a mental one.

Is a game that just tells a story worse than a game that actually lets the player create one? That depends. Is a funny comedy with no cinematic aspirations a worse film than a deep cinematic thriller? The comedy will not win any Oscars, but I might want to watch it instead on a Thursday night. Each has its place, but the latter is more realized as its media - a well-edited, well shot film is more of a film, and a game that uses more of the properties unique to games is more of a game.

In the future, all great games will let players create their stories, or it will have failed.

Spoilers are not that simple.
There exists times when they compel me to watch or play something with increased interest but those are a rarity and somewhat misleading. After I have attained the moment which should have shocked, more critically this often exists at the all important ending, the moment I'll take with me long after the journey is over... I feel a disappointment.
"What if I had seen this properly? It would have been better."

In another veins. I am the one in my circle of friends that reads, watches, or plays something provoking and wonderful, then jumps around the room shouting across Ventrillo at how everyone MUST read/watch/play this.

These moments of awe for me, or more then a few seconds, they are a puzzle, a challenge that persists as long as it takes to share the shock of that moment several more times. Appreciating others appreciating that moment.
I need to be delicate, impress them enough with the premise of this vehicle to make them want the ride without knowing about the bomb that I have left with them.

This is a practice that can make this same shock surprising 5 or 6 times later and allow me to then search the story for that structure and appreciation you mention in your experience with BioShock.

These moments have significantly more weight for me. =)

Man I can smell the pretentiousness from page one. Sadly I kept reading, but it didn't get any better.

So, now that some guys who are trying to gain attention by "reinventing games" say that games can't tell stories (or shouldn't.) Well, sorry guys but you saying this doesn't take away the fact I actually LIKED Mirror's edge's story and I actually LOVED the ending because of the story. I felt the game was much better because of it!

I also like my stories in Deus Ex, in Vagrant Story, in all the hundreds of games I enjoyed BECAUSE of the story (nevermind great gameplay.) Even DOOM has a story I think makes the game all the better even if it's a paragraph long. If I want to write a story myself, I'll go and actually do that with words, you know, how you actually write a story?

As for the "manifesto" there, well sorry. It's just nonsense. Games have no end? Then they're not very much games, right? They're, hey, toys! How about that, isn't this the EXACT SAME THING that Will Wright was talking about, say, more than a decade ago? How is this "challenging" anything? Goddamn that manifesto seems just like the guy took Sim City and summed it up. That's pretty pathetic if it's meant to challenge the way we "think about games," as hey it's been done before. Tons.

A bunch of pretentious trash honestly, is all this article is and the mentions it makes. Honestly the sooner people realize that there's no need to "reinvent" or define what a game can and cannot be, the better. There are games that tell great stories, so what? You'll just say they're not good enough? Compared to what?

So what if some people don't want to play with others? I for one don't care much for multiplayer of any kind, why should I be forced to play along just because some guy on the internet now says that's what games "are better off doing."

And some view games as sports, not as some kind of mysterious untapped "art form." Are they wrong in doing this? Are those games "bad?" No, and of course not.

Why is it that all these people fail to just accept the vast amount of diverse opinions and games out there? If someone loves playing the old Konami arcade TMNT game over the latest COD, or braid, or whatever is popular ATM, what's it to you?

Geez, seriously.

This is the first escapist article I've read I've completely and totally disagreed with. Revelations are parts of games that add a great palpable sense of awe, like the end of Red Dead, NOT SPOILING. Where you fail here is in taking the word spoiling too literally. No one said knowing a game's ending ruined it utterly, but those moments of surprise make the game that much better. Oh, thanks by the way, you ruined Bioshock and Shadow of the Colossus for me, both STORY DRIVEN games that I intended to play.

That's wild that spoilers are traced to STII:WoK.

That's the first and ONLY movie I spoiled for anyone, and the look on my best friend's face when I dumped the secret that Mark IV torpedo contained is what I see every time I even THINK of spoiling any other big plot reveal.

I. Just. Can't. Do. It. Ever. Again.

Okay, next time WARN US OF THE FREAKIN SPOILERS.
I understand that it is an ARTICLE about them, but why do you feel you have to ruin every fucking game with them.
Maybe I could appreciate your view if I could read the article, but I'm not going to for fear of all your damn spoilers.

If a game has a story, THE STORY CAN BE SPOILED.
Duh.

Just saying, I disagree with this article.
Gameplay and story are two devices which are somewhat separate of each other, and telling us what to expect of a story takes away from that facet of the narrative/game.
The fun in a book is reading about the book's events and discovering new things contained within it, not just marveling at how well written each paragraph is.

Taawus:
Spoiler tags please, now I know how Shadow of the Colossus ends.

T_T

Yeah, maybe there should just be a big *SPOILER ALERT* sign at the top of this article lol.

I don't really agree. I like suprises. =/

I think your last analogy pretty much refutes your point. Sure, everyone wants to actually enjoy those presents under the tree but the anticipation and unwrapping are part of the experience and add to it.

Knowing for sure what you will get for Christmas (or your birthday or any other holiday) takes away some of the enjoyment as far as I'm concerned.

Also, the jabs at actual storytelling in games throughout the article was quite odd. Not a terribly enjoyable article even ignoring the plethora of spoilers (which I suppose I should have seen coming).

Some people might enjoy spoilers - case by case or as a general rule - but taking the decision away from the person is a really asshat thing to do.

The perpetually wrapped gift analogy is false. It would be more true to say on christmas morning, after days of anticipation, the child's sibling sneaks in and unwraps the present instead. The gift itself isn't lessened, as the toy is the toy all the same, but the real pleasure of the reveal is gone.

You enjoy games how you want to, but don't you dare undermine how I enjoy my own.

There has to be a statute of limitations on spoilers though. "Oh no, you gave the ending away to a 5-20 year old game! How am I ever going to enjoy it now?" If it is a new release or hell, anything less than a year old I can understand, but to whine about someone posting something about the ending to Shadow of the COlossus or Final Fantasy VII is stupid. That's like complaining that you heard the twist to Psycho or the first Friday the 13th in 2010.

There was a game, Gungirl 2 that introduced a nonlinear gameplay in genre that is usually strictly linear, a 2D duke nukem style platformer. you have so much freedon you can get extra weapons independently on story and I didn't feel any negative effect of being spoiled when I was seeing video walkthrough just to find out where to get the weapons. That's the way to do the equip, let layer decide(and try his luck) instead of some spawning points and prescribed enemy weapons. PS: MUST CHECK OUT THE CUBED MOD FOR MAX PAYNE 2!

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