274: Spoiled Rotten

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Statute of limitations yes, but Shadow of the Colossus is hardly King Kong, it's a few years old, underprinted and is getting a reissue soon. Fortunately I was aware of this and skipped over much of the introduction and gladly remain spoiler free.

I feel that 'spoilers' are OK in certain games, stories, movies etc. But it really depends. I hadn't heard the twist in BioShock when I played it, and so can't speak about how I would have felt if I had known all along, as this article does. But what I do know is that I, like many others, love a twist and hate knowing what it is in advance. The reason? Restrospect.I love being able to look back on all I've done, consider it from a new perspective, even replay a title connecting the dots that I hadn't before. For me it makes me feel like I get more out of a game this way. I've experienced it one way, seen the twist and known the ending and then had to replay it in my mind, or even physically replay it again to get a whole new take on it.

I think that it's fair to say most games these days, especially those AAA titles that we all know and love are fairly linear in their narrative. There are a few exceptions and some that play with this linearity in interesting ways, even some games that try to get you, the player, to make your own choice and play the game you want to play but this often involves a karma system of sorts, one where you are told 'There's a good way, a bad way and a neutral way to end this conflict. Which you gonna pick?' Now this is fundamentally flawed in that there's more to real life than 2 or 3 options, and it essentially is just a mask for linearity. It disguises linearity under options and possibly the tease of a slightly different ending but in essence, the game you play is the same and the things you do to reach that end are essentially the same as other players with some minor variations.

While this is the case I think spoilers are always going to be a concern as you're always going to look back on your experience and think about the story that's unfolded and how this new development has driven the story without your knowledge. If you had that information prior to the experience you're whole game is going to be one of someone who is 'in-the-know', and for me that's just no fun. Sure, you have a little more perspective on the events but you prevent yourself from really experiencing two completely different stories.

Admittedly, games like Mirror's Edge don't necessarily get ruined by prior knowledge but it's not a story driven game. If I knew how Die Hard was going to end I don't think I'd mind because I'm not watching that for the story, it's the action I want to see. But if someone had told me that Vader is Luke's father, Luke and Leia are siblings and Vader used to be an annoying little kid who made C3PO ity would have bugged me because whilst the Star Wars films are epic for their action sequences, dazzling effects and intriguing setting, it's the story that drives these movies and many modern games.

I think in the end, it's an individual preference. Until we see a game that truly diverges from linear narrative, that really creates a dynamic story and actually lets the player's choices have dynamic ramifications on the game world and the story there'll be people who hate spoilers and people who don't mind at all.

I actually agree with an Escapist article for once this time, my friends constantly whine about spoilers and I have no idea what the hell they're talking about.

I knew the endings of pretty much all of my favorite game, books, and movies before I ever saw them, which leads me to believe that probably part of the reason I enjoyed them so much lies in that knowledge itself. I knew how Dune, Cat's Cradle, and Good Omens were going to end before I read them and loved them. I knew that you ended up fighting Jecht and the Curse of Yevon at the end of FFX and that's my favorite game in the series (yes, I've played all of them before you ask). I knew Archer was Shirou before I read F/SN and that's probably my favorite novel ever. If you know anything about Ripper lore, you know how Alan Moore's From Hell is going to end, and that was my favorite of his books. I knew the whole story was going to be undone at the end of PoP: Sands of Time and still enjoyed that game a lot. I knew Batman wasn't going to die at the end of R.I.P. before I read it and that story still managed to win me over to Grant Morrison as a writer.

And those are just the ones I'm thinking of that were spoiled BEFORE I experienced them. I can think of many more that were relatively unsatisfying the first time through, but once I knew the ending became far more interesting experiences. Evangelion and Big O spring to mind as being far more enjoyable after the first watching, Evangelion because you pretty much have to know what's going to happen to make any sense of the earlier parts and to appreciate what's happening, Big O because you actually get to participate in the mystery only if you know how it ends. Metal Gear Solid 2 throws so much crazy crap at you during it's final phase that it can get kind of overwhelming the first time through, but all of that information is easily parseable and understandable once you know what's going on and the subsequent playthrough experiences made it my favorite game in the series. I liked Watchmen a lot better the second time through, appreciating the subtle character developments and elaborate metaphors that are constructed throughout the book is harder when you have to focus on what's going to happen next.

I could probably list examples of this sort of things for days, but it seems I'm in the clear minority here. I guess you can't experience a story both ways, once having been spoiled and once not having been, but my experiences with a lot of my favorite stories has convinced me that if a story is truly good in a worthwhile way, the experience of it can not be detracted from by spoilers but only be enhanced by them.

Its true that knowing the surprise alreay gives you a different understanding of a game/film/text, but not knowing allows you to have a different experience the first time and then the educated experience the second time.
I prefer not to be told about some things, because, sometimes it is so sudden, unexpected and even heartwrenching that the only effect it has is if it is a surprise.
While on the other hand, being told a spoiler may reveal a small amount of information that doesnt quite ruin anything, but it still ruins the joy of discovering this for yourself. There is a great sense of acomplishment at discovering previously unknown things all on your own, even if it isn't story related. Its like exploring unknown areas of an open-world game only instead of visual areas to discover, its information, story or even new abilities.

If a work is completely ruined by a spoiler, it really wasn't that great to begin with. Movies, games, and books that still reveal something new the umpteenth time you've watched/played/read it are basically spoiler-proof.

Having said that, I still mark spoilers because I understand that other people get irked about it.

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.

Actually, I agree with this, but I don't know if I'd call it "half" the fun unless the game is only worth two play-throughs.

Azuaron:

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.

This is an interesting idea, but honestly, if a plot twist or ending was the biggest thing that elicited emotion from you, that artwork is pretty shallow. Elements like characterization and tone are much more important, and they are virtually immune to spoilers.

If you still aren't convinced, consider this: most people know the endings to the classic works of literature and film, yet modern audiences still feel their emotional impact. This is because the art in Romeo and Juliet isn't in the fact that (spoiler!) they both die at the end; it's in the way that Shakespeare presents those events. By your logic, nearly every work of art would have already been "destroyed" years ago when the spoilers of their plot became common knowledge.

boholikeu:

Azuaron:

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.

This is an interesting idea, but honestly, if a plot twist or ending was the biggest thing that elicited emotion from you, that artwork is pretty shallow. Elements like characterization and tone are much more important, and they are virtually immune to spoilers.

If you still aren't convinced, consider this: most people know the endings to the classic works of literature and film, yet modern audiences still feel their emotional impact. This is because the art in Romeo and Juliet isn't in the fact that (spoiler!) they both die at the end; it's in the way that Shakespeare presents those events. By your logic, nearly every work of art would have already been "destroyed" years ago when the spoilers of their plot became common knowledge.

But that's exactly the thing. I'm not even referring to only stories with twists. If you know, at any time, what's going to happen later, it colors your perceptions of the entire work as you experience it. There are key emotions that you will not experience by knowing the ending (oh, to be able to read Romeo and Juliet without knowing they die!) I've always thought that, were I to get complete amnesia, the only good part would be the ability to experience great stories again for the first time.

Good stories are worth multiple readings to experience all the different layers the author has worked in. But knowing the ending before experiencing the story cuts off the head, the first layer.

And I never said spoilers completely ruin a story. The Mona Lisa is still the Mona Lisa with a mustache. The Taj Mahal would only be a bit dented and chipped by a sledgehammer. 80 frames out of A New Hope is a bit more than 3 seconds. But the fact remains that spoilers detract from the emotional experience.

Let me give a spoiler-filled example.

When I saw Serenity, I was relieved when Book died. I thought, Good! Joss killed off Book. It was going to be him or Wash, so now it won't be Wash! I know, I know, I was naive. I had only watched Firefly, so I didn't yet know Joss' penchant for killing people. I happily continued the movie until the giant space battle where I became horrified that Joss was "killing" Serenity. Then Wash to the rescue, saving the scene, giving me a bit of hope and humor, "I'm a leaf on the wind," laughter from the crowd, "watch how I..." SNICK! Wash dies. After that, I wrote off the whole crew. Anyone, or everyone, could die. Zoe's stabbed, Simon's shot, Kaylee's darted. Joss has already killed Book and Wash, there's no telling if anyone will get out alive.

Now when I watch Serenity, it's a different experience. Every time Wash says, "I'm a leaf on the wind," I cringe, where before I laughed. Book's death is sadder because it's not Wash's salvation. Serenity's destruction is not cause for horror, since the ship is repaired in the end. When it looks like everyone's about to die, I don't worry. I know only Book and Wash give their lives to the movie. Do I like the movie less with subsequent watchings? No. But I do treasure my first experience.

Everything I experienced in my first watching could've been destroyed with spoilers. "When Wash starts saying he's a leaf on the wind? He's about to die." "The ship is completely repaired at the end." "Book and Wash are the only ones to die." Then I'm just waiting. I know these things will happen, but I don't know when. The movie becomes a game of patience. "Is this where Wash dies? No, no yet... Oh, here's where Book dies... Surely Wash doesn't survive Miranda? Oh, well, so he does... Ah, here, here is where Wash dies, and there he goes."

You can experience something unspoiled only once, and experience it after it's spoiled an infinite number of times. Why would you throw away something finite to acquire something infinite that you would receive anyway?

Yes, through the collective conscious of our culture, I knew that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker's father before the climactic scene, and the experience was still great. But I still envy people who saw the film on opening night. While it's true that spoilers aren't everything, they still do detract from a first impression of a work, by robbing you of that fresh experience.

Michael Thomsen:
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.

Read Full Article

*Wails arms in air*

AW MAAAAN! You Spoiled Shadow of Colossus for me!

yeah I don't really care, but its probably what a lot of people think.

I don't know I kind of like it when the you don't know anything about what will happen and realization hits you like a brick wall. I say if you want to appreciate all the things that tie in with the ending you could always play through the game again.

"Games themselves are not a storytelling medium, rather they are a space for gamers to create stories themselves."

I think that only necessarily applies if you're trying to encourage emergent game-play. While I would buy that for a game like Minecraft, and while it's just as valid an approach to game design, I don't think you can completely discard the attempts to fuse gameplay with a linear story like most games have historically tried to, and are just recently beginning to really get the hang of. I'm thinking of Half Life 2, Heavy Rain, etc; games in which the atmosphere is one of perpetual forward momentum, and everything that is a gameplay element is also a story element.

RowdyRodimus:
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.

You can post spoilers as much as you want, you can just be considerate enough to tell someone when you're going to spoil.

I... think this was one of the worst ideas for an article ever.

Step 1: Attack a sacred concept
Step 2: While attacking it, ruin games for people who hold that concept as sacred
Step 3: Rationalize.

Let's talk about movies for a sec. Let's talk about FIGHT CLUB. If you haven't seen this movie, go watch it and come back. It is an amazing piece with a really cool twist at the end.

You know what's even more amazing? How much fun it is to watch the SECOND TIME. You get to see the hints, the slight bits of information telling you about the cool twist. You get to marvel over the glaringly obvious bits of information the movie doesn't give you. It is truly astounding.

You don't just ruin the first watching of the movie, you also ruin the second, by knowing the twist. You don't even get to try and figure it out, which someone reading this text might think. And if you had it spoiled, the second time you see the movie is just like the first. Worse even because you don't have the added excitement of discovering your own folly.

I think this article is wrong, and damaging. I think it should be briefly skimmed and then forgotten by all.

Someone spoilered to me the solutions to nearly all puuzzles in URU: Ages beyond MYST.

I did not approve.

I disagree with this guy I'm afraid, I'm one of those people that will avoid spoilers as much as possible. The reason is quite simply because I want to experience every twist and turn fresh, and let things sync up as was carefully planned. For example, when I saw Hard Candy, I intentionally avoided even the slightest spoiler to the point where all I knew was that it involved a paedophile, and I must say that it made the movie that much more enjoyable, honestly not knowing where it was going.

I'm not saying you can't enjoy something once you know what happens, but you can only enjoy the moments fresh once, which won't happen with spoilers. It robs you of a one-time-only experience.

EDIT:

mechanixis:
You can experience something unspoiled only once, and experience it after it's spoiled an infinite number of times. Why would you throw away something finite to acquire something infinite that you would receive anyway?

Well damn, beat me to it. That was exactly my point.

There's quite a few posts saying what I want to say already, but I really don't agree with this. Take Metal Gear Solid 4 for example (which I liked by the way, so that's where I'm coming from with this) - your first play through takes you around the world, you meet and reunite with a variety of characters on Snake's seemingly impossible mission. Deep down you know good will win at the end, but you don't know how or at what cost, and there's a tension there as you play. Who will live or die, what sacrifices will be made? This was advertised as the final game after all, anyone could die at any point. Knowing the ending would destroy that tension.

so, spoilers dont spoil games?

that sounds like a freaking zen riddle =P

A tragic point of view I think.

The very definition of a spoiler is something which gives insight into a plot element which was meant by the author to be withheld until the story chose to reveal it.

Stating that spoilers are not a big deal just makes you look ignorant about writing and story telling in general. It sounds to me like you don't want to get 'involved' in game stories and prefer this modern trend of "soundbite media". If that's the case play Team Fortress 2 and leave the story games and 'spoilers' alone.

The article is right...i was spoiled with one of the greatest spoilers in gaming history...

Bioshock's.

I was sad at first but when i got to it...it still felt fresh and very awesome.

If a game is going to make is obvious (See halo: Reach) then yes, I agree that the spoilers are pointless. Having Ganon as a bad guy or Cthulhu would make no different if the bad guy stayed masked the whole time. If you only meet the bad guy at the end of a game, and he wasn't introduced before, then a spoiler holds no meaning. Now lets say ZELDA was the bad guy, now THAT would be a spoiler. She's established early as good and righteous, so her being a bad guy would be a shock.

Star Wars gave very subtle hints about Leia being Luke's sister, and Darth Vader being Luke's father (tough on the spoilers, if you don't know by now), so if it's spoiled, it would change the exp[eriance it shouldn't be changed for yet... the joy is in finding out the way you should find out: by experiancing it, and then going back to see if the clues worked out

I agree that they don't matter as much as everyone makes them out to, (for certain games at least) but of course it's preferable to not know.

Spoilers don't ruin the game - they ruin an experience. Playing through a game not knowing exactly whats coming next, or not knowing some big plot secret is a significantly different experience than playing through knowing everything.

For a lot of people there is a lot of value in that particular experience. I really don't see whats so hard to understand about this.

I'd rather not rob myself of surprise. I want to fully experience a game. Spoilers ruin parts of it for me so I don't feel the same shock when I reach that moment.

Is it really that hard to understand? :P

Even if I grant you that spoilers just alter the way you experience a game, maybe I don't want my fucking experience altered. Hence, don't post spoilers.

Azuaron:
..snip.. In my mind, spoilers destroy art.

+1

I can't say it any better then you did. To me that is the heart of spoilers. Movies as well share the same problem today, with their trailers. I can't tell you how many times I skipped a movie b/c the trailer gave away to much. I hope games don't get as bad. I've already had a few games this year spoiled from reading to much or hearing to much about the context of scenes.

I see the word Journey Popping up. I will just put the proverb. Its not the destination. Its the journey.

Maybe not so much applying to games, but any sort of fictional narrative should definitely not be spoiled by anyone by revealing surprises or plot points out of context of the narrative itself. Some of the best gaming experiences I've had (BIOSHOCK!) would have been diluted severely had I been privy the various surprises and plot twists prior to experiencing them myself. One of the best parts about being absorbed into fiction, is the freedom for the audience to guess completely for themselves where the plot will progress to; they will think about it after they've stopped reading/playing/whatever and they may even think about it randomly out of excitement. The moment when either your speculations have been confirmed or denied; the moment when you recollect all relevant clues and piece them together in your head (sometimes you guess the second before you're told) is one of the most satisfying experiences a narrative can provide. This sense of satisfaction is dulled if the individual subjected to the story has their own liberty to interpret the narrative as they wish; if someone says to you "at the end of the book, someone dies, but I won't spoil it for you by saying who", that puts your mind on a fixed track. Where before you may have considered many possibilities and verified them with your own opinions, now you don't need to experiment and explore; YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. Even if the plot twist is obvious - there is always an ambiguity in where the story will take you next, that we relish, and plot twists are even more satisfying if you're sure you know what's going to happen and you're completely wrong!!
My point is, you cannot argue that spoilers do not tarnish gaming or any other experiences because there is no-one who would rather hear it from someone else than experience it for themselves.

The reason I don't look up these plot details is to allow the dramatic structure to do what it was meant to do and surprise me how it was meant to surprise me.

Spoilers don't destroy a game for me, but they do detract from the experience. Especially in RPGs.

I had KOTOR's twist totally spoiled. My brother was playing it first since the console was in his room, and when he reached that point he decided the most logical choice of action was to go haul me out of bed at 3am to excitedly tell me what happened. Yeah, it was cool, but I then played through the game picking up on every hint and the actual reveal was pretty "Eh" since I was expecting it. Had I not known, I would have reacted to the twist with a lot more emotion and it would have been a hell of a lot more immersive to suddenly have to reevaluate my character's past completely.

On the other hand, there are some games where I really don't care about spoilers. Both of the AC ending-twisty-things were "spoiled" for me, but it didn't change how I played the game or my reaction at all. Not that I ever want to risk it; if someone's talking about a game I want to play but haven't played yet, I usually have a hands-over-the-ears-lalalala reaction, which seems to avoid most spoilers.

Dorkmaster Flek:
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.

If the game told you right in the beginning that Atlas controlled you with "kindly" do you think that it would be as meaningfull as it was? The suprise made the game awesome, it would be cooler for you if you played the game without knowing what was coming, then getting mind-blowned with the twist. Your reaction would be "OMG, WHAT THE HELL!? AH, AWESOME!!!"
, and now its just "Ah, cool...".

It does make a difference, also, you can only experience the first option ONCE, dont let an idiot take it away. You can experience the other option as long as you want

I hate spoilers, in every medium. You know it isn't the same to play Mafia and not know the ending and play it and know exactly what to expect. There is no emotional impact. Mafia ending was so shocking to me and I know I wouldn't have liked to know the ending before I experience it for myself because that's exactly what happened with Red Dead Redemption. Some asshole on another forum posted the ending without spoilers. Because of that asshole I didn't care about the ending when I got there. I hope something bad happens to that guy.

Someone spoiled LOST Season 5 finale for a friend of mine. He kicked the shit out of the guy. And I understand why. If someone did that to me I wouldn't be responsible for my actions. That was probably the biggest mind fuck in the entire show.


Any big detail, and twist of plot, anything of that sort, you'd have to be a complete imbecile to not see how telling someone how things will end up would detract from an experience they've payed to have. An even bigger imbecile would probably just be completely dismissive of having done so.

The basic argument is: "If you know what is coming, then you can study it as it approaches and appreciate it more."

1) You can also play a game twice. Or three times, as some of my Bioshock obsessed friends have. I enjoyed the shock, as I'm sure I would enjoy studying the build up a second time through the events, immediately after hitting the credits or maybe a couple years latter.

2) The creative writers, artists, designers, and programmers, level designers, and testers have all tried to create this specific experience, designed to be enjoyed with fresh eyes first and then replayed by a smaller subset of the hardcore fans. Why work contrary to the artists vision? Yes, you can appreciate art by reading about it, studying it, and absorbing a massive amount of knowledge from scholars, and finally go see it in person. You can also just walk up and look at it, getting your own opinion first, and then going back to the research material.

Director's Commentary is a great, new addition in games, but I certainly don't want to turn it on right away.

Basically, I agree that something can be appreciated if you understand what is happening going into it. But by having something spoiled, it only removes the option of surprise; it does not remove the ability to go back and have the new experience.

In Bioshock, I appreciated the twist, and realized how it had been built up over time as it was revealed. It just became clear, made sense, and gave me a motivation to finish the quest (game). I felt a connection to the character, and a new motivation for my actions and rebelled against the soulless gameplay mechanic of a guiding arrow and minimap. I imagine this emotional draw rather than gameplay mechanic was working exactly as designed, and would not have occurred if I knew what was coming.

This has got to be one of the dumbest "featured content" posts I've seen.

Yes spoilers change how I view the content. I no longer view it in the way it was intended. It also ruins replay value.

I despite never owning a ps3 or the game, know the killer in heavy rain. What as a potentially interesting experience. Is dead to me. The magic or mystery of it is gone.

~~~~~
edit:
I will admit that I didn't read your article. Mostly because the idea is preposterous. However now as reading posts, then checking your article. You blatantly do it. Knowing people would get upset? Low class.

Didn't even need to read the article to know it was wrong, the pheonix wright series alone would like to have a word with you =P so many moments in that game were ruined for me because of fanboys who wouldn't stfu not to mention the worst kept secret on the internet aeris dies.

It's the same as spoiling a film and makes me want to punch the douche who ruined it just as much.

Yea well knowing the twist kinda ruins/spoils the experience in a game. I mean if its like 'Hey dude, it was bowser who kidnapped the princess and then mario saves her' yea its not going to do anything but when its an integral part of the story ie. "Yo uno vader? hes lukes dad" it kinda ruins it...

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