Welcome to Spoilerville, Please Despise Your Stay

spoilerville1Videos of people falling over, how-to guides for building a rocket to Mars, and the songs of David Hasselhoff. The internet brings us many things, wondrous, weird, and terrifying. We get what we want, when we want, and little appears to be out of our grasp. Well, aside from manners and common fucking decency. What also comes on swift wings and swifter broadband, however, is the wrong kind of information – the kind that makes our toes curl with rage, and triggers snarky, passive-aggressive or full on ranty social-media fallouts.

Whereas before you had to actively be a part of a community, now spoilers come straight to you, courtesy of social media and selfish, thoughtless people. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, inconsiderate friends, colleagues, and relatives can ruin a fave TV show or upcoming film. And it isn’t just them – get used to the US Twitter folk rushing to ruin TV shows hours before they air here in the UK. And don’t forget Spoiler Trolls – those special people who scan Twitter hashtags for certain TV shows for the specific purpose of ruining upcoming episodes/events for those talking about them. I didn’t dare tweet anything Twin Peaks related until I had watched the entre two seasons, because people are dicks. These things can be accidents, and it’s easy to let things slip (most of us have probably done it), but for some people it seems to be a frustrating pattern of behaviour. And gaming is far from immune.

With games becoming more and more story based it is harder than ever to ignore or avoid spoilers, and with games as expensive as they are, it’s tough to snap up every one on release. Many people resort to binge playing new releases to insulate themselves, but for those who can’t afford the money or time – perhaps for months – it becomes a nightmare to avoid any spoilerific crap before having the chance to play.


I often wonder why people – trolls excepted – do it. Is it ignorance, accident, or essentially using a spoiler to scream ‘FIRST’ in someone’s face because they have to show they’ve played the latest thing and need to scorch the emotional earth for those lagging behind? It also occurs to me that many people value story less in games, and therefore treat it in a more blasé fashion than they would film. For some, it’s all about the gameplay or the shooty bang-bang stuff. Quests, kills, loot drops, chests, multiplayer, achievements and trophies, leader boards… we all have our gaming poison. But with even shooters striving for better stories and being criticised when they don’t deliver, you can’t deny that games, as much as they are here to entertain thorugh gameplay, are here to tell us a story. Or at least let us construct one with what we’re given. And when those stories are ruined it can sting just as much as it can with other entertainment mediums.

spoilerville3If you’re unlucky enough to be in the middle of playing a game, upwards of ten, fifteen, or even fifty plus hours of gameplay and grind is a lot to flush away because of one inconsiderate bastard. I’m lucky in that I’ve pruned or let fade many people who routinely did stupid things like that online. When it’s closer to home, though, it can be far more difficult. I have a relative – now retired from gaming – who loves the Assassin’s Creed series. Not the games but the tie-in books that are released alongside each one, and which are, essentially, the story of the game but padded out. I rarely play an Assassin’s Creed game on release, but now, thanks to someone armed with knowledge from the books, they can get too easily spoiled. It isn’t malicious or deliberate, it’s more an enthusiastic oblivion that leads to the spilling of spoilers, even with ‘don’t tell me, I haven’t played the game yet’ warnings, but regardless of intent it’s still bloody disheartening.

It isn’t just the balls-out spoilers that can dampen enthusiasm for, or outright ruin, a game, though. There’s a thing I call Soft Spoilers. These are the things that people say or hint at, which lead you down the inevitable, miserable path to spoilerville. They may avoid outright saying The Thing, but with enough of the right words or declarations you can pretty much figure it out. Whether it’s a celebration or talking about someone getting their comeuppance, or talk of justice, sadness, or whatever, if you are just a few steps behind them in a TV show or game you’ll likely have a pretty good idea of what just happened. Even if you don’t, it can be easy to work out. Some things are practically signposts.


For example, the second someone says ‘it was really sad’ it flashes a huge neon Grim Reaper sign over the game. The protagonist dies or, more likely, their wife/girlfriend/other female character dies. If you know a person well then their reaction can soft spoil a story easily. I worked out the ending of Goodbye Deponia without having played it (I’d played the first one), based on one pissy sentence from someone I knew, who’d just finished it. I knew them, knew what pushed their buttons, and thus knew the end of the game before I had even reached the full stop on their sentence. Then you start from the Big Thing and work backwards, using your loose knowledge of the story and characters, and construct the rough circumstances of that ending for bonus spoilerage. At least I did.

spoilerville5The thing is, can we be pissy at Soft Spoilers? They aren’t deliberate – not in a malicious sense. The person is making an effort to avoid directly spoiling but wants to convey their feelings to the world about it. If you know them or what they are likely referring to, can that be helped? Isn’t that just tough tits? We can’t expect everyone to shut up and never say anything or even be jubilant about shows and games they love, just because someone may correctly infer certain events from their words. Can we? Maybe we can if the show is hours old, or we know who you like/hate or what you want from something because your strong reaction can give it away even without being specific.

And time is everything. I’ve often wondered at what point do gamers have the right to turn around at stick their fingers up at people covering their ears and screaming ‘spoiler’. Where’s the line? What’s the statute of limitations on spoilers? There’s nothing worse than being in a company of gamers where no one can discuss the end of a game because one person present hasn’t played it yet. I’m guilty of being that person. I hate it. I also know that if I walk in on discussion of a ten year old game that I own and haven’t yet bothered my arse playing, then it’s tough luck. It may be fucking shit and disappointing, but I’m not entitled to shut down conversation because something is on my to-play pile.

Putting a game on those piles doesn’t place it behind a shield, sadly. We may be setting it aside, but others haven’t. I hate having stories ruined, because they make a game for me, but I also have to respect the fact that if I’ve waited years to play something, then I’m just playing spoiler roulette until I get it finished. Someone deliberately coming at you out of the blue with a spoiler for a game they know you haven’t played is another thing altogether though, and unacceptably dickish. As is anyone spoiling a new or newish game.

Say what happened to Aeris again. I double dare you

Say what happened to Aeris again. I double dare you

I suppose in the feeding frenzy surrounding entertainment, and its churn rate and immediacy, spoilers are never going to go away. We can only do our best to insulate ourselves from those wank-waffles who will ruin the stories we’re following (or hope to follow). Avoiding social-media discussions, especially on other people’s uncurated Facebook walls is probably best avoided if you don’t want to be blindsided by oblivious friends of friends or spoiler trolls. When avoidance forces us to change our behaviour in bigger ways, however, it’s beyond sad. Many gamers I know have to wait until Christmas or birthdays to get games, or otherwise have to wait until a distant payday, or the next Steam sale. The alternative of splurging stupid money on every game and exhausting yourself playing them just to prevent someone ruining it for you isn’t ideal. We shouldn’t have to do that, even if we were able. For all the great things delivered to us in split-seconds across the internet, a little more consideration wouldn’t go a-fucking-miss.

Last five articles by Lorna



  1. Rook says:

    So many times I’ve been reading social media updates and have to stop reading someone’s post because I realise they are talking about something I haven’t watched/played yet. Their post may be spoiler free but I don’t want to take the chance and move on to the next post. And sometimes it’s more than words; that standout moment now represented as a meme. Harder to ignore the post when it’s a picture.

    Some people think that as long as they don’t discuss the ending then it’s not a spoiler, but if you’re talking about a moment that was cool/made you laugh/surprised you and I know about it prior to experiencing it first hand then that is also a spoiler.

    A couple of weeks ago I went into a shop and they had the radio playing. There was no music just two people discussing a movie that was in the cinema, a movie that I wanted to see but hadn’t just yet. The more I tried to block it out, the more it was the only thing I could hear. I got what I needed and left quickly.

  2. Chris Chris says:

    I find it is worse for TV than games, possibly because Twitter is worse for games and I’m not on Twitter that much. Also because I refuse to follow people that I know are spoiler wank-waffles!

    Getting TV and films spoiled for me is the worst – luckily if its a small detail, I tend to forget but after six season of A Game of Thrones at least one major death has been spoiled for me each season, usually via a meme on Facebook. Not cool. I think if you’re going to browse Imgur or 9Gag, these sorts of things are going to get spoiled for you anything up to 24 hours after the event – the Americans are the worst for it but then as you point out they’re ahead of us.

    I had to sit and blast through Uncharted 4 in a week because I didn’t want someone spoiling it. It’s also why I see certain films on release date. It’s a shame but I think society and the emphasis on information exchange is more to blame than the individual, to a degree. I suppose the individual chooses to participate in that society and in that mindset so it’s difficult to really say it’s all down to ‘society’

    To be honest, there is probably a wider issue here regarding the freedom of information and the misuse of that information.

  3. Mark R Mark R says:

    Here’s an odd slant on things:

    I looked forward to Fallout 4 for god knows how many years. I went to E3 three times in the hopes that it would appear and, with any luck, be playable. The one year that I decided not to go, it was there. From that point on it was a waiting game until the day it finally hit the shelves. I spent money that I didn’t have so that I could pre-order it and guarantee a release-day delivery.

    I started playing it as soon as I got it and, although it didn’t quite capture me as quickly as Fallout 3 or New Vegas did, I was still enjoying certain aspects of it. And then it happened. Only a day or so later, some wanker had ploughed through the entire game to reach the end and actually posted up the conclusion. They said how it ended, and what your final decision would be.

    Now… I normally don’t give a fuck about spoilers. I guess because I don’t generally care enough about the outcome of a game as it’s nowhere near as important as the journey. BUT this time it was different. What they’d revealed angered me, as it’s not the kind of decision I’d want to make in a game. I generally play as the good guy and deal with everything in a very pragmatic sense, just as I do in reality, so if I were faced with that end-game scenario… I likely wouldn’t have made a choice. I’d perhaps have stopped playing at that point and never gone back to it.

    So, in a sense, the fact that some arsewipe spoiled the ending for me actually saved me a good 100+ hours of gameplay. I’d maybe managed to put in six hours up until that point, and ended up spending most of the time in Need For Speed, then some more GTA V, and ultimately The Division. I enjoyed all of them immensely, and if I’d used that time for Fallout 4 instead, I’d have been pretty fucked off.

    Some arsehole’s spoilers saved me from having an entire game spoiled, if you think about it.

  4. Chris Chris says:

    That is an interesting slant on it, Mark. Had never really thought about someone spoiling something being a move that actually saved me the bother of doing it. I’ve actually done that a couple of times when I’ve missed the endings to things that I felt indifferent to and actually sought out the ending or got someone to ‘spoil’ it for me so that I can save myself the bother of having to go back and finish it.

    My example is a little different because I’m inviting the spoiler I suppose.

    The strange thing is that for when something ‘major’ happens in some television programs, I find myself reading ahead so that the ‘power’ of the reveal is in my hands. I’ve done that a few times now because it removes the risk of having it spoiled for me. I know all about some film franchises that I’ve never watched because I know by the time I get round to watching them, someone else will have likely spoiled it for me and as Lorna points out, if the material is five, ten, twenty years old, what right do I have to ask people to stop talking about it?

    Like I said, there is a greater discussion to be had about the transference of information within a shrinking society.

Leave a Comment