There is something to be said about the way you view an entertainment. Personally I see sport like news, an event that you find out about, to others it is a drama. I know this fact and respect it so, when I find out the results of an event I keep them to myself unless asked. But sometimes I forget, like when I am drunk and watching the Super Bowl with a load of guys from New Orleans sat behind me (spoiler, the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl this year). Drunk at eleven in the morning I take out my phone, and have messages waiting for me from a friend (Dan Feit a regular commenter here) and my boss. I reply and kindly inform them the score. They were not happy, and I can appreciate why.
Putting aside the fact it was a dick move on my part, why did I do it? I have tried comprehending what my thinking may have been. It was thanks to my boss jogging my memory of an old psychology lecture I began to form some ideas (or excuses) for my actions, beyond being drunk. People like to share information; we are essentially hard wired to so. In the primal sense we are driven by a need to give others our knowledge to increase our chances of survival by passing on valuable information. My lack of sleep combined with the nine in the morning alcohol binge, would probably have made ‘primal’ an apt description of my behaviour. This doesn’t excuse what I did but it at least provides me some peace of mind for the idiocy of my actions.
Made me reflect on my own entertainment consumption, specifically how I play games. I am driven by narrative, and a desire to be absorbed in to the world presented to me. Sinking in to a digital world fascinates me; discovering what is around the next corner is infinitely more enjoyable to me than the encounter I have once I round it. Looking back on my actions during the Super Bowl started to consciously consider how others might consume their games differently. In a similar fashion to my view that sport qualifies as news, I have to acknowledge that many gamers consider games to be simply play, without consideration of their drama or story. From these players there must be some who have encountered similar situations to my Super Bowl blunder. Surely some of them have thoughtlessly blurted out unwanted information to friends in the process of describing other elements of the game, because they truly thought their friend would want to know.
If I take my previous assumptions to be true, then I would have to forgive any such people who consume games solely for ‘play’ if they were to spoil a game for me. What confuses me is when journalists and others within the industry are so eager to engage in podcasts and other dialogues about narrative heavy games when they acknowledge that they find story the driving force behind the experience.
I understand peoples desire to talk about such titles; the games themselves almost encourage it with branching paths enticing the typically OCD gamers to search for what they have missed. Issues arise when the coverage is so close to a games release that only a small group of players could possibly have experienced it. It is necessary to recognise the need to be timely it is true, but a thirty odd hour game being discussed at length a week, or even two, after release is somewhat unrealistic for the average person.
It is rare now that any coverage will openly, and without warning, spoil any narrative element without due warning. Indeed the ‘spoiler’ mark has become a main stay of blogs and message boards alike. Some outlets are clearer than others in their labelling of such content, while some have a tendency to spring it, unsignposted, in the middle of their coverage. But even with the allowance that there are dedicated players who will finish a game in a matter of days or even hours, I still feel it preferable to wait a little longer before unleashing opinions in to open debate.
As an avid consumer of podcasts I realised that all coverage is archived, and I could revisit it at my leisure. But all to often with the rapid turn over of information such content is all too quickly buried. There is a case for coverage while the game is still fresh in the mind of those discussing it. Yet when often even other members of podcast teams are complaining about others among them revealing unwanted information you have to questions the motivation behind the conversation, as it is all to often a (consciously or not) selfish desire to fulfil the primal instinct to share.
Maybe I am just bitter; jealous that others have had time to play the games I want to. After all if there is an audience for the discussion it is justified. Simply knowing that you have information somebody else wants will drive the flow of conversation. Sadly though in the current gaming climate everything is chewed up and digested so quickly that there is no time to savour, and it would be during this ‘savouring time’ I wish the conversation would take place. But as I said at the beginning I am one to talk, because I am sure Dan and my boss also wished I had respected this ‘savouring time’ when I was revealing the Super Bowl results to them.