I very rarely get a chance to play a game right after it comes out. Due to money concerns and time constraints, I often have to wait for a game to come down significantly in price and then find a period when I do not have a busy schedule. I have to be patient. I’m not one of those people who grabs at every single bit of information about an up-coming game because I have trained myself (mostly) to ignore them. I know I won’t be able to play it. I know I won’t be part of that first adopter crowd.
There has only been one time when I did not do this.
When the news hit that BioShock 2 was in development, I got excited. I had loved most of BioShock and I was looking forward to playing its sequel. I didn’t really care that it was a different studio, had multiplayer or even that many people said the game did not need to be made in the first place. I was happy to return to Rapture. I was looking forward to see how Art deco style would be transformed through the lens of the ruined city. I wanted to play through a new story.
To have the best time with the game, I knew that I had to go into media blackout. Once I knew it was coming out, I stopped reading about it. If a news story listed the game in the title, I skipped it. If a podcast mentioned it, I didn’t listen. As much as was possible, I wanted the game to be a fresh experience. When I played the game, I wanted to know nothing about it other than its title.
The solution I came up with worked for the most part. Going into it, I knew very little. There were a few names. There was the fact that it was in Rapture. Something called a Big Sister existed. Other than those details though I knew nothing more. I was going to get the game — which, of course, I pre-ordered — and play through it in one sitting. In order to get the most from it, I had to get it all in at once because I knew that once the embargo dropped, there were going to be spoilers on every site, in every podcast and on all social networks. If I didn’t get my time in immediately, I knew, I would miss the moment.
I hate BioShock 2 now. Not that I hate the story or mechanics themselves, per se. I still think it has a number of interesting ideas and I like some of the combat. I even thought the overall narrative was pretty good. I hate playing the game. In order avoid spoilers, I played it for 10 hours straight. Yes, that’s right. Only getting up twice, I played it through in one session. I started the game when I got home from class that night at 7 PM and stopped playing at a little after 5 AM.
At the end, my head hurt, my eyes ached and my hands were sore. Just thinking about it now makes me remember those feeling. I hate it. And it frustrated me then, as it does now, that I had to go to such extremes just to avoid spoilers. Because, it’s gotten even harder to do that.
I want to play Mass Effect 3. I really do. I also want to play Dragon Age 2, Skyrim and several other games from last year too. However, I have to pick and choose. Do I continue to play (and write about) Dragon Age: Origins or do I jump to the next game? Should I go back Fallout 3 (as I have been doing) for research or do I begin to save up for the next game? If I make a choice either way, am I missing something? If I wait, is it still possible to be part of the conversation or will that be over too? How much do I have to ignore and which places do I have to leave to get that (relatively) fresh experience?
That’s the problem now. In early 2010, it was far easier for me to ignore the few sites I followed then. I could disengage from my tiny portion of the scene and disappear with no one really caring that I had done so. I was invisible then.
It’s not that way anymore. I mean, sure, I’m not really known or central to anything, but I’m part of several different things now. I can’t disengage. I have to leave various windows open to outside world in order to keep up with news, articles and analysis. I can’t seal myself away anymore. I have responsibilities, at least as I see it, of keeping up with things and making sure I’m read up on whatever the latest thoughts, theory and troubles are.
As long as those windows are open though I end up overhearing information. I can’t help it. I can try stepping away from Twitter for a few weeks to avoid getting mad at people about sharing about their journeys. I can ask that people not tell me things about Mass Effect 3. I can skip articles. I can ignore episodes of podcasts I like. Yet, it’s everywhere. Even on Google+, one of the very few social networks I occasionally check, the information is there. Spoilers lurk for me to stumble upon.
So, I ask the people who might read this one simple thing: can you please stop sharing, at least while I am around? There has already been substantial, as I see it, contamination of the eventual experience for me. I already, because of the damned petitions and other things, know about the ending. I know about certain events. I know about some characters. Even though I have gone out of my way to avoid things, I keep seeing it. People — and this is no one person in particular — have talked about things without caring, it seems, that others have not played the game yet.
I will get to Mass Effect 3. I will. But it won’t be soon. I have some games to get through first. I have homework to do and, in just a few weeks, final exams. I have, for lack of a better word, stuff: two jobs, a handful of personal projects and, of course, miscellaneous meetings. I can’t play the latest games when they come out. After my time with BioShock 2, I won’t. I shouldn’t have to go to extreme measures to separate myself.
Please don’t tell me about Mass Effect 3 yet. Mark posts that contain spoilers. Tell me (and others) if we are about to learn something that will change the game for us. It’s only been a little over two weeks. That’s not enough time.
I understand you are excited and want to share things. I look forward to reading articles and analysis on it. I’m not there yet though and it’s not fair that I have to go out of my way to avoid things. I shouldn’t have to worry, every time I access a social network, that I will learn things I didn’t want to know or that will otherwise ruin surprises and plot points. Seriously, and I mean this in the nicest way, SHUT UP ABOUT MASS EFFECT 3!