I have a mutant ability. I have this unique talent for avoiding all spoilers to practically all media, especially video games. It’s like I have some magical blinders on for video games I will play one day.
Need an example? I played BioShock for the first time in 2012, five years after the game released. I was as blown away by the “Would you kindly…” reveal as I would have been if I played the game when it launched. I never picked up on any BioShock talk before then. I was in a video games podcast with friends, and one said “Would you kindly” at least once a podcast while I was playing the game, and I never picked up on it.
Sure, you can call it naivete or cluelessness, and that’s fair. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I absolutely love going into games, books, movies, etc. without knowing much about the story.
With video games, I want to know the story’s premise and the gameplay mechanics. That is it. I have zero interest in video game trailers that explore more and even less interest in video game theories. I don’t want or need to know everything else beforehand.
It’s baffling that some people watch others stream an entire game before playing it themselves. When they finally do play it, there are no surprises. No twists. No turns. No joy of finding something out on your own. My own son does this all the time, much to my confusion.
Is this a sign of the current times, that people have to know everything beforehand? Current media thrives on speculation and generating theories for video games and movies. Influencers essentially exist to show games to their completion before a game has been on store shelves for 24 hours. Nobody cares about an analysis of a game or movie, because these usually don’t publish after something has been in the wild for a week, and by then, no one cares. They’re off to spoil the next video game for themselves.
If you aren’t catching a spoiler via media outlets, then social media will happily take care of it for you. Because people have to discuss everything right now, there is no buffer for information. It’s all about who has seen/played something first, who reported on it first, and who discussed it first. Coupled with the fear of missing out syndrome, aka FOMO, consumers happily lap up all of these spoilers because now they’re part of the conversation. They aren’t missing out on an experience, even though they perhaps haven’t yet experienced it for themselves.
That’s what I find to be truly tragic. So many consumers are ready to accept what someone else has said about a game or what they’ve read about a game, that they don’t have to play it to be part of the conversation. My son can tell you everything about Cuphead, including every detail about the story and strategies for beating bosses. He has only played one level of Cuphead and rage quit because it was too hard. But don’t you question his knowledge of the game. He is well informed, despite never playing it himself.
He isn’t alone, either. I know quite a few grown-ass adults who watched streams of Firewatch to completion. Once they saw all of the possible “endings” and exploration routes, they were good. They didn’t need to experience it for themselves. And even if they do, the wonder of what it’s like to realize your only guide is a literal map and a compass is gone. They already know how to use them, and possibly where to go without even using them.
I’ll keep my blinders on, thank you. My mutant ability brings me too much joy to not wear them.