Today on GIMMGP, we have the joy of sharing a post from Cary, the talented writer behind Recollections of Play. Outside of sharing nostalgic moments in music and gaming on her own blog, Cary also contributes to Geek Force Network and serves as an admin at United We Game. Please be sure to check out her work at each of these sites; it’s good stuff!
When other gamers learn that my husband and I, two mostly-regular gamers, don’t often play games together, the tandem question that sometimes follows is “what do you do when you both want to play the same game? How do you avoid spoilers?” My answer varies, but it generally boils down to with planning, but it depends on the game. When we get a game that we both want to play, one of us will usually “call” it first (because occasionally we’re still in grade school, haha), or sometimes we debate about it, depending on what other games we have to play at the moment. If one of us is trying to finish a particular game, then the new game automatically goes to the other person. And when the new game is played, the other person simply avoids watching. It’s pretty simple (mostly) and it works for us (mostly). But honestly, that’s only because rarely do our gaming interests cross. We have about two dozen games in the wings, and of them, there are only a couple that we’ve wanted to play at the same time. But every now and again, games come along that one of us wants to play while the other remains on the fence. Red Dead Redemption, Sleeping Dogs, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, Batman: Arkham Asylum…these are just some of the games that come to mind where one of us made the purchase with all intents to play while the other stayed at arm’s length. And as bristly as I can get about spoilers, I’ve learned to live them to a certain degree because they’ve often opened my eyes to great games that I might have otherwise missed.
For example, let’s take Arkham Aslyum. While it was a game that excited many, it was one that I wasn’t sure was really for me. I didn’t know much about Batman, I was unsure about the combat system. I’m bad at stealth, and it just didn’t seem like a game that I’d enjoy. But, in my own wishy-washy way, I also didn’t want to watch the game because, what if, maybe, it was a game that I should play because everyone else said so? I didn’t just want to go and spoil it! Right? After way too much silent debate, and at my husband’s behest, I finally watched him play through a level; one that he thought wouldn’t spoil things too much. Turned out that I ended up watching him finish the game. It was so fascinating and mindbogglingly good that I couldn’t not watch. I didn’t take the opportunity to play Arkham Asylum, but I was well setup to play Batman: Arkham City, which I did quite eagerly and immensely enjoyed. And now, even knowing how Arkham Asylum ended and the Joker’s fate, I still want to play through it. The spoilers didn’t ruin anything, they just heightened my interest.
A similar thing is happening now with The Last of Us, which my husband is currently playing. It’s won many accolades and plenty of acclaim from players, but I’ve kept my distance. Though I do love a good story, I’m not a fan of survival horror. I have almost zero patience for dealing with extremely difficult situations in games — not having enough at my disposal, constant death, painful progression. Whatever that says about me notwithstanding, when we got TLoU, it seemed like a game that would constantly keep me on the edge of controller-flinging. So I started out just watching it, and this process, spoilers and all, has allayed a number of my fears. Yes, I now know Joe and Ellie’s beginnings. Sure, I know the state of the world in the game. And I know what’s expected of the player throughout. Though I’ve only been a here-and-there spectator, I now know that it’s a game I want to navigate. As I watch, I’m constantly thinking about how I would get through a particular level or what I would craft in a given moment. The spoilers I’ve witnessed don’t matter much to me because I’m pretty sure that my experience would be completely different from that of my husband’s, especially since we each have different approaches with story-driven games.
I’m not going to get to TLoU any time soon, so my knowledge of it will probably fade by the time I do, but I’m grateful knowing that it’s not a game I should avoid just because of my own preconceived limitations. I’ve come to term with game spoilers, and I generally welcome them if only because they sometimes help to expand my horizons, which is always a good thing, even when my mind tells me otherwise. It doesn’t know everything, after all.