Does a Spoiler Have an Expiration Date?

RiffRaff

Human Person, Maybe
Robot
May 11, 2020
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336
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Italy
So, The Last of Us Part 2 is finally out and it's glorious! And leading up to its release there was the controversy regarding some asshat leaking major spoilers. Fortunately I've done a great job of avoiding nearly all possible info on the game and have gone in as blind as possible. No small part due to how well the Dtoid community are quite aware of posting spoilerly stuff (though it does happen from time to time still :( )

Also, earlier this week Persona 4 Golden hit Steam. Since I've never played it and loved Persona 5 I bought it the second I heard the news. This game came out in 2008. You would think that anyone who wanted to play it would have done so by now. In my case I've wanted to play it for a while but when it was first released I was in a period of big change in my life and didn't have time for it and when things slowed down I wasn't ready to drop a few hundred bucks on a Vita to play one particular game. So the Steam version is a big deal for me and I imagine others. In fact, I see that for many this will be their first time playing P4.

Sure, there's been a deluge of fan art and music covers plastered all over Dtoid FP, Qtoid, CBlogs, and the internet, and even if I personally consider showing a character who isn't revealed in the first 10 minutes of gameplay or playing music a spoiler, it's not an egregious one. And somehow, for the past 12 years I've been able to avoid nearly all story spoilers. I didn't even know what the general set-up was going into the game.

Then, what really sparked me wanting to start this conversation, a post on Qtoid dropped a big spoiler on P4 for me. The person is a long time Dtoid member and one of my absolute favorite people 'round here. They posted a screenshot they found humorous and unwittingly spoiled a story beat that would have been a big surprise for me. They probably posted it for the humorous joke in the dialogue but the image behind the dialogue told a lot, even if I saw it in a half-second glance while thumbing through Qtoid while taking my morning coffee poop.

Another thing that sparked me wanting to start this conversation was a small discussion on a Qtoid post talking about how long should one hold off on posting anything regarding a new game. 2 weeks? 2 months? 2 years? 20 years?

TLoU2 will probably take me roughly a month to beat as I like to savor and take my time with games (especially one's that I have been anticipating a long time) and there are certain days I don't want to play because of my tinnitus. Some people will be done with the game in a matter of days. Should I suck it up and avoid interacting with Dtoid and the internet till I finish the game? I know a couple members are doing this for TLoU2 and I don't like that because I like having them around engaging with the community.

So, before I keep rambling on and on let me ask my questions:
  • What is a spoiler?
  • What are the unwritten rules regarding spoilers?
  • Is there a certain amount of time before we can freely post about a game?
  • What are egregious and minor spoilers? Where do they fit in to the timeline regarding when we can post about them?
  • How should a member comport themselves when wanting to share a reaction to a big moment in a game or discuss something that may be spoilery?

I know Dtoid has it's own site rules but what I want to hear are your opinions on this. What one considers a spoiler may not have even crossed the mind of another. Since Dtoid is a gaming site, let's keep the discussion related to game spoilers as much as possible.
 

RiffRaff

Human Person, Maybe
Robot
May 11, 2020
368
336
63
Italy
To give my opinion on a few of my own questions:

A spoiler is anything that isn't widespread, common knowledge about a game; information officially revealed in a trailer, playable demo, or officially shown off by the devs themselves. Though even this can be tricky as I'll watch the first teaser trailer for an anticipated game and then go silent on said game till release day avoiding all other trailers and gameplay demos. For a game I don't know about I tend to watch an official gameplay trailer or read a review to get a sense if I'll like the game, but even then I try to avoid a lot.

Egregious spoilers are what I think most will agree on. Talking about big story beats. Luke is Vader's mother. Greedo sucks face with Han. You visit a major, surprising location, etc.
Minor spoilers are tricky. Revealing a character that's not immediately in the game. Some fan art. Talking about gameplay mechanics not immediately available. Talking about the opening sequences/cutscenes or first act in general. Any out of context dialogue. Landscape screenshots or out of context screenshots. Even Dtoid's FP posts the other day about giving hints on how to unlock things in certain locations of TLoU2 with vague names I still found spoilery and felt that they could have been collected in a single post with a title that doesn't say 'break room', 'warehouse', 'sex dungeon'. There's a lot and these are the first to come to mind.

I think all egregious spoilers should always be avoided for all time. No expiration date. Keep that shit behind spoiler tags and in places regulated to speak about them. Period.

Minor spoilers I say about 1 year but still be mindful of how you post/talk about them. When in doubt, spoiler tag.

If someone wants to discuss a spoilery part of a game making it absolutely clear in the thread or Qpost/Cblog title is a must. Always give people a chance to avoid the discussion if they choose to.
 

PhilKenSebben

Lord of Fuckery
Staff member
Robot
Apr 15, 2020
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Cali
Well said. My own rule is about 1yr for little shit. Anything featured in a trailer is fair game to discuss openly. Major things, have some class and keep it well marked, and hidden in comments/posts. However, if it's been five+ years, try to use some caution, but all the same, fuck it.
 

D-Volt

Haruspex/Menkhu
May 10, 2020
48
54
18
Well it kinda depends on the game. Guys on Qtoid were very, very strict about posting Super Mario Odyssey spoilers when it came out for instance. But about 2 months later no one really cared if you posted endgame pics. It's not story heavy and everything will still be fun to play even if you know what's coming next. Spoilers are just discouraged for the first few months it's out.

But then there are games you just never spoil. Usually story heavy ones. Like, posting spoilers for Metal Gear Solid 4 or The Last of Us without marking them as such will probably never be okay. It's always a dick move.

Then there are spoiler moments that have become so legendary they're hard to avoid. Like FF VII and Aerith, or Muv-Luv Alternative and....that moment. They're so unexpected and powerful that gamers can't help but speak openly about them.

So it's a case-by-case basis. Some expire and some never expire. Just listen to your gut and be considerate and you'll always be fine.
 
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Roager

Rogue Ogre
May 11, 2020
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The biggest thing I look at is what significance there is to the reveal in-context. Getting a shotgun is just getting a shotgun, games had thousands of shotguns even before Borderlands came along and added a few killion more. Getting the villain's signature sword is a surprising twist. I can't just say "story details are spoilers, and weapons aren't" because in this hypothetical, it's both. And you could probably imagine an example where "get a shotgun" has that kind of impact too.

In the other direction, I don't think spoilers exist for multiplayer games. "You get to play as a Boo in this Mario Kart" is equally cool whether I discover that during the game or beforehand. First-act spoilers usually don't feel like spoilers to me for the same reason. If it's that early on, it's probably necessary setup for later, not stuff that needs to be kept secret.

Time is funky. At release, spoilers should stay minimal. Some discussion's gonna happen, some will be spoilery, but we all know that early on you at least gotta have a clear warning. That fades with time, and sooner or later there's that "Everyone who wants to already has" feeling. The more niche a game/movie/anime/whatever is, the quicker it reaches the majority of its audience. But it's still kind of an inconsiderate assumption to make; there's all kinds of reasons someone might not jump on an entertainment product immediately after release. Plus the internet has sort of warped what 'niche' is, which further complicates things.

There are also some times where spoilers don't matter. I have a friend who's never gonna play Devil May Cry 3. Can't, thanks to a disability. But she does play some games, and likes to talk about stories and how they're told. I can (did) spoil the whole everything, because doing so is harmless and not doing so takes away from the conversation.

The best thing to do is keep spoilers marked basically always. Give people the chance to decide for themselves whether or not to look.
 

Nekro

Potential Magical Girl
Staff member
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Feb 14, 2020
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This is a really hard question for me to answer, to be honest. And I guess it’s entirely contextual.

What’s the game? How story-heavy is it? Would spoiling a detail impact someone’s impression of it when compared to going in blind?

So for me, I guess what constitutes a spoiler is all about plot and characters, as well as specific things such as enemies or locales. For instance, I’d call it a spoiler to say that you
return to Anor Londo
in Dark Souls III.

Although oddly, I’m not so bothered by someone revealing the name of a boss in that series, with a few exceptions. You know, someone namedropping
The Nameless King
isn’t that big of a deal to me, because without the context provided by the in-game lore, you might not be as aware of what that character represents.

Mechanics, though? That’s all fair game for me. Feel free to talk about any game mechanics, haha. Chain attacks, party combos, parrying, dodging. It’s all good. That’s just the raw inputs and controls of a game. Very little can be deciphered through it, unless there’s a specific named ability that gives away a plot detail. But that’s a really niche thing.

As far as a statute of limitations goes on spoilers? I dunno. I used to think it was about a year or two. But I’ve kind of come to realise that people enter the medium at different times. So maybe it’s just best to try and be courteous regardless of the game’s age.

I might be more forgiving if someone accidentally blurts out something related to a 4 or 5 year old game that I just haven’t gotten around to, yet. But I think I’m going to try and make a concerted effort to be a bit less upfront and blatant about some things, just in general.

And with classic games getting a remake? Yeah, I mean, I get that some folks in our generation may consider a moment to be one of the most well-known plot twists or elements of their era. But when the game is older than some folks who can legally appear in porn films? Yeah, maybe it’s understandable that they might not have as much of a grasp of those details. It’s just from a different time, and some games age harder than movies in some respects.

Yes, I’m talking about Final Fantasy VII there.

But even then, it’s all contextual, I guess. What the spoiler is, the company you’re with, who you think might be listening, what the game is... so yeah. Use your best judgement, but try to be considerate.
 
Jun 9, 2020
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UK
I'd tend to agree with everything that's been said already, it definitely feels like the expiration date for spoilers on the internet is about 5 minutes after whatever it is releases... which really isn't fair. I also get pissed at how easy it is to get bits of a game spoiled for you by either those clickbait guide articles you mentioned or even just youtube clips from a game that explicitly spoils a scene for you with just the title of the video. That's happened to me a few times with some big games.

Personally I'd say 2-3 years after release is a good benchmark for when some spoilers become fine to talk about without checking, but it depends a lot on how important a spoiler is. If something is super fundamental to the plot of a game or completely changes your perspective on the game when you play that section then I'd still try to be considerate about it; talking about finding a badass weapon or going to a distinctive location in-game or minor story spoilers I think would generally be fine to share.
 
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PhilKenSebben

Lord of Fuckery
Staff member
Robot
Apr 15, 2020
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It's funny. Write after checking this thread, I had quite a bit of TLOU2 spoiled in a single comment on an article that had nothing to do with it. Went to check if it was true, and yeah... Fuck people.
 
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May 14, 2020
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You know man I really hate spoilers im genreal but I don't mind them too much any more. Key reason being Atlus they can go fuck off the way they tried to apparently deal with spoilers for Persona 5. Apprantley the ps4 reddit just said to people hey because Last of Us Part 2 came out no new posts and comments are allowed to be made until after a few days.

It is a shame and as I said I hate spoilers but in the end if it ends up as a choice of less spoilers but more shit like that then I'll just take spoilers.Very few compainines actualy do that I know but it leaves a sour taste for me that any at all do stuff like that.

Also yeah no ill will to people here but some people here were very casual with dropping spoilers everywhere in plain site for articles about Persona 5 Royal. It was spoilers for the base Persona 5 game yeah but kimda annoying. Fine for me already played the game before the articles here were made.

Also its really weird that they spoil something about Teddy in a fighting game he is in just to have him do something in one of his winning pose animations for the game
 
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