Tell Us Dammit: Spoilers

Tell Us Dammit: Spoilers

I want to be clear: this is not somewhere to post spoilers. This is a place to discuss the issue of spoilers.

What are your thoughts on them — how long do you have? Is the responsibility on the spoiler, or the spoilee?

I had a bit of a spoiler argument recently when I posted the results of the Ronda Rousey vs Holly Holm match here at Kotaku. My feelings have always been this: sport is different from television. Sport, by its nature is a live event that people are discussing instantly the second it happens. If you don’t want to be spoiled by a sporting event you need to basically shut down the internet. A lot of people thought I was wrong about that.

Movies are different I think. We don’t watch movies as a live event. We watch them at different times. With movies I feel we need a bit longer — at least a week or two, particularly if the movie has a twist that impacts your enjoyment of that movie — ala The Sixth Sense. Particularly if the movie is something that we, as a culture, are more invested in — ala Star Wars.

TV? That’s sort of a grey area. TV sits inbetween sport and cinema in that it can often be an event. I’d argue that Game of Thrones is about as close as TV gets to a sporting event in that we mostly watch it week to week, on the day it comes out. So maybe the time frame should be a little shorter on that?

There’s also the issue of context. One thing I was happy to concede re: the Ronda Rousey vs Holly Holm thing was that people were reading Kotaku Australia thinking it was a safe space from UFC spoilers. There’s a time and a place to discuss spoilers. Like Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett was spoiled for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in r/canberra.


Anyway, let’s discuss. Spoiler free of course.


  • I think for a movie, if you don’t want spoilers then a week after release.
    For TV shows, maybe a day or two after airing, what with all the catchup services and being able to record etc.
    For books, a month or two?

    And how I’m avoiding spoilers online? Chrome extension unspoiler. So a lot of places are looking like this now, even if they’re not spoilers, but have keywords….

  • they do not bother me at all, its about the journey, not the end or the middle and besides its better to see it with your own eyes even after its been spoiled

    Edit: i lol at the though of Luke being spoiled in reddit. never ever read a forum immediately after a game/book/tvshow/movie has been released or leaked out early

  • I tend not to care about getting spoiled. Knowing that something is going to happen in a story is not inherently bad and unless it’s some major twist, like the ending of The Usual Suspects, it’s not taking away from overall experience. Oh, sure, it’ll change the overall experience but that’s a different matter.

    When I saw The Sixth Sense, it was in a small cinema in Yamba (a beach town on the north coast of NSW). There was a house with two dogs next to the cinema and the damned things barked all the way through the movie. That changed my experience just as much as my parents casually spoiling the movie for me the night before.

    You know what? I still enjoyed the hell out of the movie, bought the DVD years later and have watched it plenty of times since.

    I also don’t count marketing campaigns as spoilable. The release of a new Smash character or the new cards in an upcoming Magic: the Gathering set should be inherently interesting. Wrapping it up in marketing buzz is neat and beneficial to the company selling the product. However, as a customer, I care about the product and not how you’re trying to get me interested in it.

    With all that said, I understand that others don’t agree with me. So I tag spoilers appropriately and use ambiguous phrasing to dance around the subject. It’s not hard to help others dodge spoilers and I rarely lose anything by doing it.

  • I agree with you Mark on the sports side of things. TV and movies fall into the same area for me. I don’t want any spoilers regardless of whether or not I wait a year to see it – though if I’ve waited a year then clearly I’m not invested in it and therefore probably wouldn’t care if someone spoiled it for me. So… In conclusion…. 1 week?

  • One thing I hate being spoiled Is when I think I am grabbing fresh milk but it is spoiled and past its used by date

  • — Spoiler warning for those that haven’t read this comment. —

    Personally I don’t care too much about spoilers, it’s just a fact of life that people are going to talk about the things that they find interesting or personally amazing. It also helps that I’m an “It’s the journey not the destination” person. Sure it sometimes makes things lose impact and there are things that I want to work out for myself that I don’t want spoiled but I’m not about to go demanding that everyone change their behaviour and talk behind closed doors just to suit my desire for a spoiler free world.

  • Well, the Smash Bros Nintendo Direct post from the other day did prove for some good discussion, but this is a very good topic, so thanks for making it its own thread Mark!

    Games are a wild card, because if you are on a site like this there are certain things you can’t exactly play coy about. There’s going to be people _very_ heavily invested in titles, genres, etc that you yourself wouldn’t be caught dead playing. That’s the diversity of the medium at work, and every time a Sony exec pimps console numbers, or Reggie puts sales speak into a tribute to Iwata, the gaming universe as a whole is made lesser for it.

    Yes the business side of the entertainment we love has always been there, but now, more than ever, it’s not a sideshow but there in concert WITH whatever the IP we all love at the moment.

    That’s a long-winded way of saying spoilers and ‘spoiler culture’ (seriously, what a crap phrase) are always going to be around whether we like it or not.

    It’s called show-business for a reason.

    Going back to Game of Thrones: The current marketing campaign is predicated upon a giant spoiler ( as far as the in-show universe is concerned, nudge nudge wink wink). A cliffhanger, a dangling plot thread, the plight of a/the main character – these are great hooks in all types of media.

    But right now it’s some silly Who Shot Mr Burns crap, and The Simpsons parodied that trope perfectly.

    I didn’t watch the Nintendo Direct, I wanted to, but couldn’t. I wanted to be surprised by the final character reveals, and that’s that.

    Nobody has the right to tell me otherwise.

  • I actively seek spoilers to be honest did it this morning with a certain movie, I am not going to see it for a few weeks (taking my son and the crowd will be horrible for a while). So to not be that guy sitting in the office with my fingers in my ears i read up so i can join in the convo.However i will never intentionally spoil a movie or anything for anyone as i am not that sort of guy.

    I like to read what is going to happen and then see exactly how it plays out and whether it is as good as it sounds.

  • I was talking about this on another thread, and for ME, I couldnt care less about others. Its just too hard to figure out where their preciousness level is so I largely ignore it. Out of respect, I’m not going to come out of the theater and tell everyone that *spoiler* Darth Vader was Lukes dad, but I’ve just watched The Greatest Movie Of All Time, and I’m sure as hell going to talk about the rest of the movie.

    Why is my right to continue enjoying that movie denied? Am I spoiling ESB by talking about *spoiler* the Hoth battle? Or *spoiler* the fight on Cloud City? Probably not, but what about *spoiler* Han getting carbonised or *spoiler* Lando’s betrayal?

    I dont want to get started, because I think this sort of thing is symptomatic of bigger things in society where minor groups rights trump the majority, and I’ll go off on a major rant, but in the end, if I want to talk about a movie, you better believe I’ll be talking about it.

    I had a friend (sadly passed away now) who used to be adamant that even 6 months later, because THEY hadnt seen a movie, any fine detail discussion was a spoiler, and he’d go off at us for talking about it. My opinion is, screw that.

    In the end, whether its a spoiler or not is up to the individual. Some will say its about how much detail you give, others will say its only whether you destroy major plot points. Giving the twist away at the end of Sixth Sense of Fight Club is far far different to letting someone know how Avengers ended for example.

    • You really think the majority of people see a movie when it’s released?

      Some math: a movie grosses $500mil at the cinema; even if each ticket is only $10, that’s a total of 50mil people who saw the movie at the cinema, worldwide – in a world of 7.3 billion people. Everyone sees a bunch of people with like minded attitudes, and believes they must therefore be in the majority. The world is a little bigger than you realise, and being a little considerate to those who might read what you have to say isn’t exactly hard.

      Want to talk spoilers with a friend? Go nuts – Twitter and FB have DM functions, there are a bunch of IM clients for private convos, phones are great for one-on-one conversations. Talking spoilers in front of a friend with full knowledge that you’re spoiling it for them is dickish of the highest degree, not only because of the spoilers themselves, but because you’re deliberately excluding them from participating in the conversation, and making it seem like its their fault in the process.

      • Within two weeks, for those that are going to see it at the cinema, yes.

        Look at blockbusters like Jurassic World. Of the $650m it made in the US box office, $450m of that was in the first two weeks, and another $150m in the next three. Thats 70m tickets out of about 78m total in a month, 54m in a fortnight.

        Baring illegal downloaders, anyone that hasnt seen it in that period has done so by choice. Why is that choice more important than my choice to have seen it early?

        Heres the thing, using your example, using US ticket prices. Titanic sold roughly 500 million tickets, Avatar roughly 350 million. Even if you call it a billion tickets, thats 6 billion people that didnt see it in the cinemas.

        Can guarantee that most of those 6 billion havent seen either of the movies for one reason or another, so does that mean nobody is allowed to talk about them? The internet is a big place.

        I’ll respect the big twist, but why should I respect the CHOICE not to see a movie early? I’m not talking about blowing the ending a minute after I see the movie, I thought I made that clear. But I WILL talk to friends about what else makes a movie worth seeing, or not.

        Nobody can take that right away from me.

        • I feel we may be talking at cross purposes. It’s not my business what you discuss with your friends (if you think that’s what I’m referring to, disregard my rantings because we’ve clearly misunderstood each other).

          I’m referring to the attitude (that I read in your comments) that leads to spoilers getting posted in the not-so-private conversations on social media because people feel they “have the right to extend their experience,” even at the expense of others’. I mean, sure, the internet is indeed a big place, but it has a surprisingly small number of focal points that can make it seem very small indeed. And spoilers have a nasty habit of rising above the cacophony in such places.

          As for the numbers, your 500mil + 350mil tickets (ignoring the likely not insignificant overlap) that suddenly became a billion, then 1.3…? I question your rounding methods :P, and as a record holder it’s kindof a statistical outlier (predictions put TFA grossing at around $500mil, roughly a quarter of Titanic’s), but I’ll concede your point.

          But on “choice”: I’m seeing TFA this weekend precisely because I don’t see any choice. I’d much rather wait for the blu-ray and avoid the cramped cinema and loud crowds, but because I know people online feel they “have the right,” in exercising theirs they negate mine. So, do I have a choice? Wait and be spoiled; wait and go offline for six months until the blu-ray release; or find time to go to the cinema during the busiest time of the year? Personally, I’ve got two days to myself in the next three weeks; one of those days will be spent making sure everything’s in order before I leave to visit relatives over Christmas/NY, so I have one day I could possibly see it. Considering the age of the franchise, I doubt I’m alone in that regard.

          So, no, there is no choice, purely an ultimatum. “See it then, or see it spoiled.”

          • Fair enough, and yeah, I think we’re at cross purposes here. As you responded to my comments, I can only follow through on that 🙂 All good.

            With those ticket sales numbers, I did it VERY simply. I went to Box Office Mojo, looked at their worldwide take, and divided that number by the ticket price for the year of release. Titanic was about $4.50ish, Avatar around $8ish off the top of my head.

            That was all and I know thats not going to be right, but how do you get an exact number? And yeah, i specifically ignored the overlap, that just makes it worse. Bumping it up to a billion was to overinflate above anything it would likely be to get a base number.

            Point was more that at that number, its only 15% of the worlds population. Does the internet need to stop commenting on those movies because 85% chose not to see them in the cinema?

            Obviously thats just silly, and with blockbuster movies, the majority see it in the first two weeks, so any expectation of not talking after that is ridiculous to me. First week, fair enough, keep the comments tight, but after that, its fair game to me.

  • spoliers annoy me. the rousey one like you said is annoying because kotaku isn’t an mma site. The worst kotaku spoiler I remember was an article about GoT that said TV ONLY DISCUSSION, then the article went on to talk all about future spoilers from the books….

    I sometimes black out basketball games to watch later at home but I still visit sites like kotaku because I assume they aren’t going to be posting NBA scores.

  • I think there is a time frame of “respect” for situations like this.
    TV Shows – 1 week
    Movies – 1 month after release
    Video Games – 1 week

    After that time frame is up, then it’s free for all. I’ve just had an argument with a friend about this due to him not getting to see the new Star Wars till late January, maybe February, and has said that people should shut their mouths till then or “they are dead to me”. If we treated all media this way, then no one would be able to discuss anything ever again.

    If you respect your friends, you’ll wait till they have seen it then talk about it. However there has to be a time frame where after it expires, you can freely talk about it so that it’s not unfair to those who have not seen the media in question.

    Also, in regards to content, just about anything is a spoiler to someone. I’ve avoided as much Star Wars articles as possible this includes trailers. So names, quotes, appearances, etc are spoilers to me; but such information has popped up in “Spoiler Free Reviews”.

    • Video Games 1 week?

      Woh! I’m lucky to have even updated a new game in the first week, let alone sat down & completed it.

      • Unfortunately the world of video games moves so quickly that most sites will have reviews/spoilers/etc up within a week. So it’s hard to avoid it after that.

        Heck, Fallout 4 story, ending and Easter Eggs were spoilt before the game hit shelves.

      • Could you imagine a final fantasy game with only a week spoiler buffer? I’m only now playing FFX as part of the hd release on ps4,i tried playing it years ago borrowing it off a mate but disc two was buggered.

        Personally, live events like sports, no spoiler buffer as this is news. Games a month, movies two weeks, and TV shows, if it’s a weekend launch, talk Monday any other time 3 days.

    • Couldn’t agree more.

      There is always a respect period. But I will not hold back for years for just one person because they prefer to procrastinate on their spare time watching youtube vids then actually playing/watching [insert game/movie] here.

      If you decide to not to see/play something in the first month, I won’t say anything. If you haven’t acted after 6 months It’s on like Donkey Kong!

    • Video games being 1 week is a bit ridiculous.
      Some people dont have the free time others do. I’d go out and say a month is realistic in my eyes.

      • With how fast video games move in this day and age? A week is more than realistic… Most sites don’t even give you that!

        • That is sites that you know will post things. My opinion is that you shouldn’t post spoiler type details in a headline. It is then easy enough to avoid reading in depth about it.
          If you are then having a random chat about RPG and you talk about the ending of fallout 4 that would be annoying. It would take me a month at least to get that if I was fully committed.
          My main issue with spoilers is if somebody asks you not to spoil something they haven’t seen,played.watched then shut the hell up. If it is a group conversation then they can leave (although I would still change the subject most likely) but in a 1 on 1 and giving stuff away after being asked not to, then you are a prick.

  • My friend once spoiled the ending to something I really wanted to see. I remember pulling him up on it and he laughed.
    Knowing he was a Mel Gibson fan, fifteen minutes later I asked him if he’d seen Braveheart. His eyes widened in interest and he said, “no”.
    So I spoiled the ending for him, and it felt amazing.
    On the issue of spoilers, I’m clearly on the fence.

  • I just don’t understand the need to drop important elements so quickly & frequently.

    You can have a convo with a person, get your point across without ever actually explaining what you mean.

    There seems to be an inability for people to keep their damn mouths shut like a child with a secret.

  • Ah, the Sixth Sense… the very first movie that got spoiled for me. That said, it was mostly due to it coming out when I was too young to see it, overhearing a passing mention of the plot twist, and remembering that conversation when I saw it a few years later – all I could focus on was how subtly the movie sidestepped having Willis’ character interact with anyone. Still very much enjoyed the movie, but more from an appreciation of that subtlety than the final reveal of the twist. As a result, I make an effort to avoid openly talking about potential spoilers for anything. Hell, I’m not going to be the one who inadvertently ruins Ender’s Game for someone who’s just now starting to get into sci fi.

    For movies, I reckon people should be mindful of what they say for a month after release – it’s not like it’s hard to be considerate of other people, or to restrict your conversation to a medium that isn’t the digital equivalent of a cross-stadium shouting match (eg. twitter).

    Games… if I’m worried about spoilers, I make sure to play through it asap, just in case, because I know I frequent areas online where spoilers will likely crop up. I’ve made doubly sure to do that since I got lazy with Bioshock Infinite, and read that Elizabeth was actually “ab vz abg tbvat gb fcbvy vg sbelbh” before I was halfway through. Would be nice of people to be considerate for at least a few weeks, tho… Like that’s gonna happen.

  • I think we psych ourselves out with spoilers. At some point fighting with trolls about them made us think every spoiler mattered. With some movies I can understand it, The Sixth Sense gains a lot from a twist. However we expanded the definition of spoiler to include anything that happens in the movie. Knowing that Luke becomes a Jedi shouldn’t ruin anything but we’ve got so used to hating spoilers that we feel like someone simply explaining what a Jedi is takes away from the experience.

    • A good example is Jurassic Park. In theory, going in without knowing anything about it makes it better but I don’t think missing out on something that makes it better automatically ruins the experience. Does not getting that bonus thrill of figuring out what it is as it goes spoil anything? Is that bonus better than the excitement you felt going in knowing what you were about to watch?

  • had a friend who spoiled the end of battlestar galactica for me straight after me saying ” i havent seen it and im looking forward to finding out what happens tonite”

  • My brother spoiled that plot point in Final Fantasy VII for me before I got to that part of the game when I first played it. Still haven’t forgiven him for that.

  • I think there’s a balance between timeframe, media, and self-management. When Star Wars premiered for instance I bailed on twitter for a day or so because I wanted to completely avoid the initial “reaction” wave of unmoderated comments. I agree that for instance saying you enjoyed a movie is not a spoiler, but some ways of reacting can sort of be spoilery. That said, a movie has a set formula. You’d expect people to react to it like it was a thrillride of intro-climax-resolution because that’s what a movie is, unless you completely screw it up.

    TV shows are another story. One thing I hate is people livetweeting during a TV show, even if you make it as vague as “OMG THAT JUST HAPPENED”. Well thanks, now I know there’s an “OMG THAT JUST HAPPENED” moment in an upcoming episode. In shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead you expect a slow burn, sometimes story arcs build over several episodes and the payoffs (or interruptions) come unexpectedly. Tweeting “OMG” at the 34-minute mark can be extremely telling to someone who can’t watch the show since they’re at work but might have checked twitter on their while taking a dump.

    Games are a more complex beast, particularly with open world games where there’s a broader cast of characters and multiple story threads. Even in fairly linear games, a game like Halo 2 could’ve been ruined for a big fan by them finding out you play as the Arbiter something Bungie completely kept the lid on until release. I’m playing Fallout 4 at the moment and even though I put about 80 hours into my first playthrough and I’m 20 hours into my second, I’m still finding new content, characters, and stories. I’ve already been spoiled on one story thread I intend to pursue that I completely missed in my initial playthrough. It’s minor in the grand scheme of things, but something I would have preferred to discover independently. It reminds me of the Mass Effect 3 marketing. They showed a cutscene with a giant thresher maw in one of the online trailers or TV spots (I can’t recall which) and I remember myself and a couple of friends being really annoyed that that was “spoiled”. Another friend scoffed saying “I didn’t realise giant space worms were a major plot point in your stupid game”, and no, they aren’t – but it demonstrates the extent to which this friend missed the point. In a game, there are things that have to be discovered in gameplay, even if they’re not important to the story, because there’s more to a game than a story and characters. You are exploring, venturing into the unknown with every twitch of the thumbstick. There should potentially be a surprise around every corner. Now does this mean you can’t really advertise games at all? Not exactly. But I’d like developers to try not to go down the road many Hollywood marketers have started on, where they basically show you the entire movie and leave nothing to the imagination. Am I hyped for Captain America: Civil War? You bet. Do I feel like the movie has anything left to surprise me with after one trailer that showed the entire basis for the conflict and what kind of action scenes we can expect? Sadly, no.

    I’ve wandered off topic a bit, but I guess my point is, there are varying degrees of spoiler, and varying degrees of self management. You as the consumer need to educate yourself about what you’re likely to be exposed to, and govern yourself accordingly. Remember the principle tenet of the internet: people are dicks.

  • The statute of limitations on spoilers is automatically brought forward any time the creators start marketing the sequel.

  • I can’t speak for sport stuff, not being a sport guy myself, but for film and TV I don’t put a time limit on it: I always be considerate in regards to spoilers.

    It’s easy: if you’re about to say something, or post something, that is clearly supposed to not be known prior to someone’s first viewing, give some damn warning. In live conversation, if its about to come up I ask if we’re all on the same page, because it would be really douchey for me to just think “well you should have seen it by now, it’s your own damn fault for having not”. Some people aren’t into some things yet, or weren’t able to watch it as it aired, and those people shouldn’t be punished or denied the same viewing enjoyment the rest of us got.

    It’s hard when it comes to making references, as some are now ingrained into our culture. But when it comes to newer stuff like Star Wars and Game of Thrones, it’s easy: just don’t.

  • Depends on how badly I was anticipating a thing, if it’s not high on my list of things I want to see a spoiler isn’t going to do much but for things I’ve waited on for months to years I get really adamant on avoiding everything, like the mere mention of the thing in question puts up my blinders.
    A friend recently who knew I was waiting on MGSV to release, on day one she went on the wiki, read all the spoilers because she was too lazy to play the games and popped up on skype to tell me that she knew the twist, I instantly logged out and avoided the internet until I finished the game.

    So no, I don’t like spoilers, I don’t like that people get so impatient that they look up spoilers instead of experiencing the content for themselves, although that is their problem, just as long as they don’t talk to me until I am caught up.

  • Sports events or rasslin’ – instantly fair game
    TV or VOD show – one day
    Feature film – one week
    Game or book – one month

    You’re welcome.

    • That said, I’m generally not fazed by spoilers. What the destination is doesn’t matter, so long as the journey is still enjoyable.

  • Guy at work likes to spoil Game of Thrones for me after I have repeatedly told him I don’t have HBO and to please not discuss the matter in front of me. After a year of him doing this so 2 seasons of GOT, i found myself alone with his girlfriend that he likes to cheat on and treat like crap so we started banging each other one night and now everytime he brings up GOT i just smile and think about his naked girlfriend on my bed. Now i know what your thinking, I’m a dickhead right? Well you’re right on that account but I warned him not to spoil GOT, that’s what you get you damn spoilers!

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