WARNING! This article contains no spoilers! (Hopefully).
Very little of the Game of Thrones storyline came as a surprise to me simply because it was impossible to escape the chatter around it. Fair enough though, Game of Thrones is fantastic and I wanted to talk about it too when I finally got around to watching it – I was late to watching the show so it’s understandable that I would have heard some things about it. But even knowing the titles of events like, as it’s famously known, the [Spoiler redacted] was enough to spoil the moment, even though the specifics really shocked me. Then when Sky themselves tweeted the day after the episode revealed how [spoiler redacted] got his name, completely spoiling a 5-season thread I was so annoyed! I hadn’t seen the episode the night it aired, so the fact they thought it was OK to reveal it on Twitter the next morning makes me feel kind of ill!
A similar example of me learning to much about something due to it’s success is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. My Twitter feed is filled with people sharing screenshots and stories of fun stuff that happens in that game. Everyone has been good to avoid big story spoilers, but the thing is so many small events are so joyful that discovering them for yourself is so much better than other people showing you them. Again for the sake of fairness – that game is so packed full of amazing moments that people could spoil hundreds and you’d still have new ones for yourself. I think the reason it frustrates me in this instance is that it has turned my twitter feed into Miiverse; but Miiverse has a handy “spoiler” button, so generally content you wouldn’t want to see – you don’t see it, whereas on Twitter it’s right there in your face.
To get serious about this though – I think that more than most people I have a really strict idea about what a spoiler is. For example if a movie gets serious critical attention (the ultimate being a Best Picture nomination) I will literally shut down on learning anything about it. I want to see the movie fresh with no knowledge about it at all if possible. But to illustrate my point; I generally don’t even like to know what people think about a movie! Knowing it has universal acclaim can set up your exceptions, leading to disappointment in some cases (Moonlight), or on those happy occasions seeing them met or even exceeded (La La Land).
My big problem that if something happens in the first five minutes I don’t want to know about it. Imagine someone telling you about the first scene in Kill Bill Volume 1 so you are expecting it? For me that’s the same as knowing a twist at the end of a movie. Tarantino set up that shot so purposefully; the framing, the lighting, the cinematography, the fact that…nah I’ll not say any more for the benefit of those who haven’t seen it. My point here is that I loved it so much that I would have paid the same money just to see that opening shot again. Knowing what was coming would have watered it down somewhat.
Comparing that to a twist ending is also a significant point. For me the point of a twist is that you completely catch the audience off guard. The whole time you have been holding their attention over here saying, “hey look at this,” all the while the truth has been happening just off to the other side, and at the end you go, “look over there!” and their mind is blown! So if I tell someone I am going to see a film and they tell me, “Oh that’s a great film, it has an amazing twist,” I am again annoyed and will never be friends with that person ever again! (I’m sure I’m joking…though I’d have to think about it…). When you know there is a twist coming you try to outwit the director, when they say, “look over here,” you reply (hopefully not out loud), “Ah, I’m not falling for that, Shyamalan!” Or you know, whoever. The point is it can drastically affect your experience of that movie, and rather than being shocked at the end you either have worked it out, just have a mild, “Ah well done,” or go, “Ah I didn’t get that it was that!” So if a movie has a twist, please don’t tell people that!
So there’s a simple solution; I just try not to talk to people about Games, Movies or ETCs that I have yet to experience, unless it’s something I want to know about for some reason.
Comic Book movies are easily one of the biggest sources of spoiler filled conversations with fans. I have a friend who loves Marvel stuff, and so he always wants to talk enthusiastically about storylines I know nothing about. The problem with this is that I love the Marvel movies, so I don’t want to know anything about the existing stories in case they are used for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But he just wants to excitedly talk about them, even when we are sitting in the cinema just about to watch one of them! He would say, “This happened in the comic so I wonder if it will happen now?” And this leads me to my next form of spoiler – the speculative kind!
This can definitely happen as a result of comic book movies, and actually one that happened to me – my friend said, “Oh in this story in the comics [specific character] dies.” I was raging! We were either a week before or on the day of seeing the movie! Now I know that the movies of comic books/graphic novels don’t necessarily follow the pattern of the stories as originally written, but you then spend the movie wondering, “will they die!?” Again this significantly affects your viewing of the movie, so that even if that event doesn’t happen, you’ve spent most of the movie wondering when/whether it will. These speculative spoilers can even relate to fan theories, or just all out guesses based on nothing! If someone plants an idea in your head it affects your viewing, even if they have no authority of prior knowledge to make suggestions! Even worse, what if the thing they suggested turns out to be more interesting than the reality!
This has happened to me in reference to Game of Thrones. It is a theory that suggests how all the events were put in motion, and it could still come to pass. It is actually such an amazing suggestion I wonder whether it is what has happened or been hinted at in the books (which I haven’t read). But more importantly, it’s such a good idea that I will be disappointed if it comes to pass (’cause I’m expecting it) but also really disappointed if it doesn’t! (‘Cause it’s a missed opportunity!).
Finally time scale is the other free pass people believe exists when it comes to spoilers. “Oh that came out ages ago so it doesn’t matter whether I talk about it now.” This is one that I know I may not have many supporters in, but I believe it doesn’t matter how old something is, if there’s chance you could spoil it for someone who hasn’t seen it and would enjoy it, just avoid talking about it! The Sixth Sense was ruined for me by my English Teacher. This happened within weeks of it being released on DVD (I think); maybe the cinema. The point is I was 14 at the time, and therefore too young to see the film. So it meant when I was finally old enough I knew significant events that took place in the movie (see even now I’m working to avoid spoiling it for readers who haven’t seen it). All I will say is that the less you know about that film the better, and you will experience some of the best cinema of all time. Everyone who saw it fresh absolutely raved about it, and I am so jealous of them having seen it not knowing anything about it. Having said that, it is a still an amazingly crafted film, and I have seen it three or four times – it’s still so worth it.
But as I have said, I still don’t want to give anything away! That film is nearly 20 (!) years old, and I genuinely don’t think you should give anything away about it, just encourage people to see it, and don’t tell them why! Having said that it would be good to know whether they are of a disposition that they would enjoy it before recommending it!
Another example of spoilers relates to how I have been working my way through the Metal Gear Solid series in the last year or so. I got the HD collection for the PS3, and had Twin Snakes for the GameCube. I can tell you for sure it’s not the gameplay that has kept me going through that series, but the absolutely crazy, complex and for some reason compelling story. I recently finished 4:Guns of the Patriots, and it was an absolute blast, and I think a high point of the series so far. But I have heard a few spoilers about the series on podcasts…oh podcasts… Now that I think about it I do have another point to make specific to podcasts, but I’ll come back to that! So the reason I have heard Metal Gear Solid spoilers is because the people talking about it usually say, “come on these games came out so long ago” after having dropped a series spoiler. I understand where they are coming from, but I still think due warning should be given, and this leads me to my point about podcasts…
The problem with people having conversations about Games, Movies, ETC, is that rather than carefully thinking about what they write they just blurt something out and justify it by saying, “spoilers” after the fact for comic effect. The worst and most frustrating example of this for me was when [name redacted] said [spoiler redacted] relating to Assassin’s Creed Unity DLC. Having not yet completed the main game itself this was a major spoiler for [specific part of the game redacted] and I was devastated. It still bothers me today to think about it! And they just comically said, “spoilers” immediately after, without having given warning about what they were about to talk about. I think their light-hearted attitude to giving major spoilers is what bothered me most about it! I have come across this a lot and it frustrates me to think it may have just been ruined for someone due to the careless nature of the conversation.
So where does that leave us here at Games, Movies, ETC? Well my hope is that we generally will avoid spoilers in all our content, regardless of the release date of what we discuss. If we feel it is essential to the conversation that we do discuss something that is considered a spoiler, no matter how minor, that we will give fair warning. A great example of this can be found in Episode Three of our podcast! Steve drops a major Batman comic spoiler, and because he just blurted it out, I edited in a warning saying skip 1 minute 15 seconds if you don’t want to hear it! Fair warning, and an accurate amount to skip to not hear the spoiler. I feel this is so significant with comic books and graphic novels these days as they are gaining a new audience as the movies get the general public interested in these characters and stories. So hopefully the site and the podcast will remain spoiler free unless there is due warning!
So what are your thoughts!? Please keep your comments spoiler free!