Shut up about Mass Effect 3! Please.

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 2Skyrim 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!

2 thoughts on “Shut up about Mass Effect 3! Please.

  1. I understand your complaints, but… I’m not sure how to help you. I am terrible with names, so generally, even if I read something about Mass Effect, I don’t know what’s going on… and… I guess I don’t care about spoilers as much. Stories should be interesting even if you know the ending. And maybe I’m just good at forgetting things.

    1. Dan Cox

      “Stories should be interesting even if you know the ending.”

      Should, yes. But that’s the problem, right? Is it more about the journey or the ending?

      For games like Skyrim, I don’t mind hearing spoilers up to a point. My journey in that game, once I get around to it, will be vastly different from those I have heard about. The things that interest me are not the things that interest other people and I will be spending time looking at the little things that fascinate me.

      With Mass Effect 3 (as well as other story-heavy games), it’s all about knowledge. If I know a choice is coming, I can plan for it. And, if I am doing that, I’m changing the present to match a view of the future. That play is mutated from what it might have been.

      I’m still not sure if that is good or bad. In books and movies, I generally like new experiences. I might go back to a work to get new ideas or have a different experience, but I like that first look to be new to me. I want it to be special. It loses something if I know the ending before I start the beginning. For games, with it being more performance-based, it’s… different. I don’t know.

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