Spoiler discussion - What prompts you to avoid spoilers for a video game?

  • I've been thinking about spoilers, but specifically for video games. I know people can vary quite a bit on how they handle them, but I'm probably like most people that it is entirely case dependent without one simple pattern that I know of yet.

    With most games it doesn't even occur to me to think in terms spoiled/not spoiled. I just casually consume and come across information about games throughout the course of my habits. If I end up buying the game there was never a preceding point in time where I felt "uh oh, I need to deliberately stop stumbling into more information" before purchasing.

    But then, much more uncommonly, there are games where at some point I consciously decide to enter "avoid spoilers mode". And I don't just mean "oh, I don't want plot twists ruined or know more about the final boss battle" --- those are things that I already expect most places to be courteous about. By "avoid spoilers mode" I mean something that is more like "media blackout" for that particular game. It is a very conscious state where I will pretty much avoid watching any more media (videos of other people playing, videos about the game by youtubers) and pretty much avoid listening to any further discussions about the game (forum threads, podcast segments).

    The most typical time that I would decide to enter "avoid spoilers mode" would be when the game launches, and the most typical scenario would be where I know I'm not going to get around to playing it right away, but I can see people are talking a lot about it. Entering "avoid spoilers mode" might also occur during those last few weeks leading up to the launch when the information about the game is flowing more freely.

    Starer Question:

    So what gives? Why do we sometimes break left (have a very casual relationship with new information) and sometimes break right? (strictly avoid new information until you get your chance to play it yourself)

    And Also:

    Feel free to share whatever thoughts or discussions you have on the broader topic as a whole.


    Here's my initial thoughts about my own question, namely the possible triggers for this behavior seem to be:

    1. Having a long pre-existing relationship with a series can greatly increase the chance of wanting to enter "avoid spoiler mode" (hello BOTW!)
    2. Feeling like you are a "big" fan of the game (whether the game is part of a series or an entirely brand new IP) increases the chances of "avoid spoiler mode" when you feel isolated as such a fan (i.e. when everyone else except you seems to be hating on the upcoming game in question)
    3. When there is a growing sense that game in question is setting up to make a "big impact" -- meaning a big impact on the industry, or perhaps just the genre/series.
    4. When you are consciously aware that you have been following the game's coverage very closely, i.e. you identify yourself as being "abnormally informed" compared to most consumers. This increases the chance of wanting to avoid spoilers because you are effectively trying to re-normalize yourself for the game's launch.

    I'm not even really trying to dissect the psychological underpinnings (which surely could be the basis for even more discussion). Where I'm coming from with this question is trying to dissect the practical variables that ultimately determine one's desire to avoid spoilers (or not). Even with all these thoughts written down I'm still intrigued to explore the question further.

    One thing, at least, seems definite: the "avoid spoilers mode" will never be entered if you have not affirmatively made up your mind to buy/play the game.

  • The easiest thing for me personally is my core reason for playing the game. If it's narrative driven, then no, I want to know as little as possible about the game. If it's moreso based on mechanics, then spoil away, I don't mind. For instance, I really don't mind seeing weapon and armor sets I haven't yet unlocked in Monster Hunter: World because as great as some of those are, actually acquiring those for my character is the true joy. When Persona 5 kept creepin' in closer and closer, I avoided anything to do with the game because I wanted to come in as fresh as possible - I didn't even know what most of the main cast looked like nor did I know their names. So in that instance, I was able to be introduced to the characters with "creator's intent" and didn't walk in with my own preconceived notions.

    I think an interesting case was the reveal of the Breath of the Wild DLC during the Game Awards. I haven't had a chance to play the game yet (no Switch) but from my understanding, they pretty much showed some of the ending for a game that had been out less than a year. However, I wasn't upset because let's be honest, very few people are playing that game for its story. Bad guy is bad, you good guy, stop bad guy... as Zelda typically is.

    You also touched on the other point - love of a series may greatly influence how much a person wants to avoid information about a game. For instance, I'm a little interested in Lost Sphear (when it drops in price) but I want to know a little bit more about the characters and the world before I dive in, just to save myself purchasing something that may not fit my interests. Yet, if this was Lost Sphear 47 and I gobbled up all the rest, I wouldn't need to know anything more to make a purchase, that developer has earned my trust through continuing to make good games. Pyre and Persona 5 were excellent examples last year where I was all in on day one but didn't want to know anything about the games before I got my hands on them.

  • It's kinda hard to explain, and i'm not good at explaining things. so i'll try my best.
    To me, games are basically digital experiences that, most of the times, i can take something valuable from, especially in narrative driven games. The thing about experiences is that it's very effective in teaching or giving you something because you directly, well, experience it. You actively take part in it, not just hearing or seeing it from a distance. That's why i particularly sensitive with video games spoilers, they are potentially much more damaging to my enjoyment of the game. Youtube comments spoiled The Force Awakens for me, yet i still had a blast watching it. On the other hand, i read about the bosses of Bloodborne because i was too curious and it made me not want to continue playing the game, because i know that no matter how hard they are to fight or how cool they look, i will feel nothing because i already know about them early on. Basically, i'm looking to keep being surprised by the game. This especially applies to series that i already care much about. If someone spoiled Uncharted 4 for me, oh boy i will be pissed, probably i won't play the game until i somehow forget that spoiler (which is impossible).
    That's why i don't watch the weekly hunts unfortunately, haven't played Monster Hunter World, so busy right now :(

  • For me, story never has any influence on whether or not I buy a game and rarely has a positive effect on my opinion of one so the only spoilers I ever worry about are gameplay or maybe environment related. I will admit that I did buy in to the war on spoilers for a while until I realized how little story affects my opinion of a game.

    So, with your BOTW example, I probably wouldn't have cared if somebody had told me about the Ganon fight or any of the other bosses. And I still wouldn't have been upset if somebody had told me about or shown me video of the abilities but it would have had an effect on my excitement when I first discovered them in my own playthrough.

    MARIO SPOILER: I still remember I was playing Mario and my wife said, "can't you take over the bullets?" and I scoffed, "No! you can't ta...HOLY (bad word), you can!". Again, if I had seen video prior, I wouldn't have been angry but I would have been stripped of that moment of excitement and joy at discovering something so mind-bending to a long time Mario fan. On the other hand, I just finished Persona 5 having gone in completely spoiler-free - almost fully by coincidence - and now, looking back, would not have cared if any part of that game had been spoiled in advance. As mentioned, story brings very little to games for me and, having played plenty of SMT, I knew what to expect from the gameplay.

    I'm curious to hear from people who enjoy "walking sims/interactive narratives" and whether they would still play a hotly anticipated game from the genre if it were spoiled in advance.

  • If you know me in the discord you’ll know that I purposely live under a rock. Basically, that’s the only place I go that has any real connection to the outside world outside of very occasional appearances here and on Patreon.

    Story is the most important thing for me in games, so being completely isolated from the rest of the world is a pretty easy way to be spoiler free, but I’m just doing that because I like to be completely isolated in my game choices and what I like/don’t like etc.

    As to whether or not I’d play a game I knew the story for, I guess it’d depend on how exactly it happened, along with what the game was. I knew the first couple of trials in danganronpa because I watched a bit of the anime, but I still had fun with it, and I think I still would’ve if the big reveals at the end were what was spoiled instead since the journey still has its fair share of mystery.
    On the other hand, if I knew the major plot point to a TellTale game there’s a good chance I wouldn’t play it, and knowing the FF7 meme spoiler is going to seriously hang around the back of my mind if I ever get around to playing that.
    Stanley Parable after you’ve done the things isn’t fun to replay, but Undertale still has little bits of what makes it great spread throughout it in abundance.

    Some games have one core point to it that relies on you not knowing the plot. The lead up to the end in The Witness was huge for me because I knew nothing about it, and Firewatch as a whole depends entirely on it being a fresh playthrough - Firewatch was close to being my GOTY that year, but if I knew the story in that I don’t think I would’ve had it anywhere near as high if I even bought it at all.