My friend Trevor is holding the red vine mid-way to his mouth. He knows he’s screwed up and he seems to be wondering if he can play it off, as if he didn’t do anything wrong.
“What?” he says again.
“I can’t believe you just said that.”
“So you haven’t gotten to that part yet?” He lowers the red vine. The jig is up.
“No, fucker. Why else would I be pissed? God. You’re such a dick. All you guys.”
“I didn’t say anything,” Douglas notes. “Why am I a dick?”
“Am I a dick, too?” Mike asks. “I wasn’t even talking about BioShock.”
“You two were arguing about whether Atlas was Irish or Scottish. And then Trevor said that. You guys know I haven’t been able to play very much. I told you before that I just started and I barely got into it. I told you not to give anything away.”
“So you didn’t know that Atlas is a vampire? You didn’t get to that part yet?” Trevor asks.
“Well for fuck’s sake, stop saying it.”
“What, like you might forget it if we don’t say it any more?” Douglas asks.
“I’m not even at that part yet, and I’ve been playing for a week,” Mike says. Mike sucks at all games. He takes a lot longer than the rest of us.
“Look, I’m sorry, I thought you’d at least gotten to the moonbase,” Trevor says.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, shut the fuck up already.”
“Oh, you’re not even there?”
“No, I’m still in the goddamn Medical Pavilion. There’s a fucking moonbase?”
“Well, yeah, but it’s a ways after the Medical Pavilion. You don’t get to the Rocket Sub Bay until about three levels past that. Maybe four.”
“Well don’t tell me where it is. Just shut up already. God, you guys suck.”
“I don’t suck,” Mike says. “I wasn’t even talking about it.”
I hate being behind the playing curve. You miss out on the immediacy of that watercooler talk about a game. You can only get that as you’re playing it. Once you’re done and you’ve moved on to another game, the talk assumes a different quality. The quality of guys looking back, from a perspective totally different than yours. It’s like watching the Season Two DVDs of Lost and then trying to have a conversation with someone who’s current on it. It just doesn’t work.
“Oh, so Sawyer hasn’t taken the guns yet?” they’ll ask, and you’ll have no idea what they’re talking about. “Do you know about Jacob?”
It’s just as hard to stay in sync with games. Some guys plow straight through starting the day a game is released. But some guys have jobs, wives, or a predilection for World of Warcraft. Some guys like Mike just take a long time because they’re not very good.
And then some of us have to play other games for assignments. That’s my problem. Everyone’s going on about how wonderful BioShock is – fucking wonderful wonderful BioShock – and I’ve got to review Two Worlds and Blue Dragon. As a freelancer, that’s my lot. My editors get the choice games and I get Two Worlds and Blue Dragon.
I should spoil Two Worlds and Blue Dragon for those guys. At this point, I’m pissed enough to do it.
“In Blue Dragon, Marumaro ends up joining your party,” I blurt out, frustrated and blindly seeking vengeance. I don’t care whose Blue Dragon experience I spoil at this point.
“What’s Blue Dragon?” Douglas asks.
“I think it’s some faggy JRPG,” Trevor says.
“Yeah, and Marumaro turns out to be an ally,” I reiterate. “What do you think of that?”
“So, like, that’s a spoiler?” Douglas asks.
“But we’re never going to play that game,” Trevor says. “Is it possible to spoil a game someone’s not going to play?”
“Is he, like, your father or something?,” Douglas suggests. “Or is he maybe you? That would be a spoiler.”
Now to spoil Two Worlds for them. “In Two Worlds…well, my horse got stuck, so I’m in the middle of nowhere. It’s a long walk. At this point, there’s not much there I can spoil.”
“What’s Two Worlds? Is that another faggy JRPG?”
“It’s a faggy Euro-RPG.”
“Why is it called Two Worlds? Maybe if you told us that it would spoil it.”
“I don’t know. I only know about one of the worlds at this point. It’s called Antaloor.”
“Antaloor. That’s the name of the game world.”
“Man, that’s just, I don’t know. I guess Cyrodiil is pretty silly, too.”
“Cyrodiil with two I’s.”
“Right. But still, Antaloor. Sounds like a kind of an aardvark. Or something you’d fight in a JRPG.”
“There are poo snakes in Blue Dragon,” I offer.
“Yeah. You fight them. They drop poo, which has treasure in it. Actually, lots of monsters drop poo.”
“Sounds like Black & White. That’s the last game I remember with poo.”
“So, have you forgotten yet? What we said about Atlas?” Trevor asks. Douglas is trying not to giggle. I bet those guys planned this.
“If you’d quit fucking mentioning it, maybe I would.”
“Don’t forget the other thing. Try to forget about that, too.”
“Yeah, try to forget the moonbase too.”
So now I’m finally getting around to playing BioShock, but I already know that Atlas is a vampire. Hopefully, like knowing that Anna Karenina throws herself under a train, it won’t spoil the experience getting to that point. Sorry if I spoiled it for you, too. Also, sorry to give away that Marumaro joins your party in Blue Dragon, but unlike the moonbase in BioShock, you can see that one coming.
Tom Chick has been writing about videogames for fifteen years. His work appears in Games for Windows Magazine, Yahoo, Gamespy, Sci-Fi, and Variety. He lives in Los Angeles. Shoot Club appears in this space every Thursday.