Final Fantasy 7 Is Bigger Than Spoilers

Last week, a minute-long teaser brought the Final Fantasy VII remake roaring back into view for the first time since it was announced in 2015. The footage looked spectacular, a dazzling new way to play one of the most familiar and beloved games of the last 25 years. But is it safe to spoil?

It’s a question that’s cropped up on various online forums in some form or another, and it’s an understandable one.

Final Fantasy 7 is the game with That Moment. It’s not just a significant, unforgettable development in the game’s plot, but a scene that has proven to be a watershed for the medium. A generation of people who play video games consider it a foundational moment in their relationship with games, the video game version of the ending of The Empire Strikes Back. If that experience can be preserved for a new generation, that would be tremendous.

On the other hand, the game is 22 years old, and for most of those years, it’s been readily available. If there is a reasonable statute of limitations on spoilers, we reached it some time ago, and should be able to freely discuss it. That’s just what happens with popular culture. It is absorbed into the ongoing, never-ending conversation among all of us, a touchpoint we can refer back to and reasonably expect other people with similar backgrounds to know about. If they don’t, that’s totally fine — it’s just that this far from the game’s release, avoiding spoilers is entirely up to them.

Spoilers are a particularly sensitive issue on the internet, an asynchronous, non-linear environment where people discover things old and new all the time, at their own pace. It’s also a medium that vastly prefers novelty, and what’s novel for one person may be stale for the next.

My experience with Final Fantasy 7 was a “spoiled” one. I didn’t have a PlayStation when I finally got into role-playing games in the very early aughts, which was tragic, because I had seen the commercials and the art and was completely entranced.

I wanted to know everything about that game, I wanted to conjure in my mind an image of what it was like, even if I couldn’t play it for myself. We didn’t have YouTube or Let’s Plays then, so I did the next best thing: I read the official strategy guide cover to cover, more than once. So yeah, I was spoiled rotten.

Would I have loved to have been surprised by the game’s big death? Absolutely. It would crystallise that day in my memory forever. I’d remember the room I was in, what I was doing, how it felt. But I didn’t — by choice — and I’m not poorer for it. For me, it’s one powerful beat among many, and when I finally played the game, I had so many other things to obsess over. Sephiroth’s descent into madness. Cloud learning about his past. Literally everything about Jenova.

There’s so much to this game, and that’s just on a plot level. Engage with its themes, and there are rich veins of material contemplating the nature of identity, and an incredibly melancholic throughline about loss, environmental disaster and corporate greed.

There’s also plenty the original game could have done better, and worth revisiting if a remake is inbound. We should talk about these things freely, so we can understand how far we’ve come as a culture, and how far we need to go.

Spoilerphobia can get in the way of meaningful discussion, and cripples pop culture as a facilitator of real human connection. Any decent person isn’t going to go out of their way to spoil things for you—that pure first experience is a wonderful thing, and most are accommodating if they’re aware you don’t want to be spoiled about a thing ahead of time.

Unfortunately, we’re not always in control of what gets spoiled for us, and the further out we are from the work in question, the more likely it becomes. It’s reassuring then, to remember that learning what happens next is only the beginning of a story’s pleasures. The best part comes after you get to live with it a little, and we’re going to live with Final Fantasy 7 for a long time.


Comments

    It was spoiled on this site either yesterday or the day before. I didn't know. Doesn't matter, I don't have any interest in the game.

    FF7 is a meme at this point, if your a fan of gaming or JRPG its already been spoilt... but the thing is besides a few major plot points... can you truely remember the whole game.

    The game looks fantastic, and I'll definitely be buying it on release, but I wish Cloud didn't look like Lightning. :/

      You got it backwards champ.

        I know what you mean, but in this case it goes both ways. Because its a remodeling of the game, and full upgrade to the character models as part of that, in effect Cloud is a new character again. And because FF13 is in the past, now looks like Lightning rather than the other way around.

        Flipside is that if Lightning hadnt looked like a graphically updated Cloud, we wouldnt be having this discussion...

          Tbh the refreshed Cloud is very in line with Advent Children which came out well before FF13.

          Cloud looks like Cloud
          Lightning looks like Lightning

          Is this a case of people with X skin colour all look the same?

            Fair point. Its not something that bothers me personally either way to be honest, I was just reflecting that because graphics advanced so much between FF7 and FF13 that 13 set a new standard, so to speak.

            But any time theres a FF hero with short blond hair, a comparison is going to get made .
            We've seen it with Cloud, Squall, and Lightning so when we get Raindrop (assuming they stick with the wet weather name theme) in FF17 it will happen again.

      Spoiler alert: Cloud IS Lightning.
      But yeah I thought the same thing.

        If I have my way with mods, they will literally be the same person.

        When you combine Cloud(s), Lightning and and a strong wind you get a Squall. Unless it's a Snow Squall then you have questions.

        In the section where you're getting the bits to dress Cloud in drag, I fully expect that when trying the full costume the first time, they'll have Lightning step out.

    Isn't this THE spoiler that's thrown around when people discuss spoilers? The spoiler itself (and the fact it is a spoiler) is basically a meme at this point. I think it's pretty safe to spoil.

    I'm firmly in the anti-spoiler camp and if it's something that I am heavily invested in then I don't want to hear a word. However when it comes to old media, such as FF7 then you can't expect a great level of consideration from other people. Furthermore, when it's such an iconic moment that people like myself, who have never even played the game, know exactly what happens AND don't even remember when or how they found out to the point that they feel like they've always known, then those who aren't aware (do these people actually exist with regard to the FF7 spoiler in question?) you just have to accept that nothing short of locking yourself in a panic room, fallout shelter etc is going to save you.

    It's as acceptable to spoil this as it would have been to spoil LotR when it was brought to the big screen (considering it was written some 70-80 years prior), or spoiling the first/second/third season of Game of Thrones when they released (when it was still staying somewhat close to the books).

    For all intents and purposes, it's being remade for a new platform, with a much larger userbase (many of whom likely have never played the original), with much greater accessibility in mind.

      I think its slightly different when changing mediums, ie from book to film/TV or game, but this is just a remake of the game so hasnt. Which makes its much much harder to avoid. That original audience is still part of the discussion and to a point, driving it.

      LotR is a good example though. Most people wont have read the books (I never did), but will have been exposed to enough of the storyline that there probably arent many spoilers left. People are going to go into those movies knowing most of the highpoints just from cultural contact.

      So could, and should, people have avoided spoilers for an adaptation of such a famous work? Personally, while I understand the desire to not have it spoiled and agree some effort can be made, think its an impossible task.

      Spoilers come with famous media whether you want them to or not. Its a catch-22. They're popular enough to be made into something else, but to be popular people needed to talk about them.

      How do you decide what someone knows about an established product or not. I havent seen GoT (well, I saw the first couple of eps, but Sean Bean was still alive when I stopped. He's King now, right?), but have been casually exposed to enough information to know the basic story. But no real detail. So I know the Red Wedding was bloody, but not who died, and that Daenerys has 3 dragons, but not what their names are.

      So the sheer popularity of the show means that when I finally get around to watching it, much of the plot will have been spoiled for me. And its unreasonable of me to expect otherwise. What makes me want to (eventually) watch it is also what will have somewhat spoiled the show.

        On LotR, I know my mum was encouraged to read them as a kid, and refused to out of pure rebelliousness - she never read them, never paid them any mind aside from suggesting that I might enjoy them when I reached a similar age. She enjoyed the movies, tho, and I don't think she was spoiled because prior to seeing them, she never cared enough to engage in conversation about them or paid them enough mind to remember anything about them. If I want to experience a game fresh and unspoiled, I'll do the same thing - see enough to know that I want to experience it unspoiled, then ignore everything about it until it's released and I play it for myself. I hardly consider it an "impossible" task, considering I've been doing it for 10+ years.

        I mention GoT because (at least in the first few seasons) those who had read the books kept their silence as to what would happen, and those who did not keep their silence were shouted down into oblivion, and it worked really well. (As an aside, I have no idea what's happening with it these days - I got hooked by the "impending whitewalker invasion" touted by the prologue of the first book, and it was still "impending" four and a half books later, at which point I got tired of waiting for it to arrive; stopped watching around the same time, during season 4)

        And I'd say that changing from a 20yo JRPG to a modern remake is almost as drastic a change (if not more so) than book to film - how many people (who have not yet done so) would be willing to experience FFVII in its original form? Books don't really become less readable over the course of 20 or even a hundred years (or, at least I don't think they do - I read Lovecraft and Tolkien just as easily as I read Stephen King or Raymond Feist), and their audiences haven't really changed that much, but game design has changed significantly in the past 20 years as its audience shifted from niche to mainstream, to the point where it could be just as hard for someone to play the original FFVII as is it is for some people to read Shakespeare - the original has become far more inaccessible to new audiences as time goes on, so the remake is acting in the same way a film adaptation does for a book - it's bringing it to an audience that would otherwise never have engaged with the old medium, and could very well have no preconceptions or knowledge of it beyond that.

        It's ultimately up to the individual to decide what conversations they engage in and which they encourage, but I'd love it if people would be considerate of what they say on a public forum, because there are private channels and self-censoring tools that they can use for those discussions that won't negatively impact other people's enjoyment of the thing they're so passionate about that they still find it worth talking about 20 years later. Imagine if people who played the remake enjoyed it as much, and were still talking about it in 20 years from now... isn't that worth the little effort of warning potential readers before you spoil something for them? If someone wants to be spoiled, that's their choice; if someone doesn't want to be spoiled, that should also be their choice.

          I was more sci fi as a kid, reading Asimov, Heinlein, Doc Smith, that sort of thing. So didnt really get into the fantasy side of things until Eddings and Feist as a late teen and then just never picked up any of the LotR books as various life issues took precedence to sitting down and reading. I'll get around to it some day.

          I'm more reflecting that there is also a personal level of responsibility in situations like this that the spoilee (lets make that a word) should recognise. The onus isnt totally on one side of this, particularly for established products that have a somewhat famous history. The moment was a turning point in gaming for a lot of people, its been talked about a LOT, just like LotR was before it was made into the movies.

          And I've been around long enough to not really care if someone goes into snowflake mode about a remake of a 22 year old game. Personally, the moment came and went for me and didnt really impact on me. Death was something I'd sadly had to deal with well before that - one of those life issues. Sephiroth stuck with me far longer than Aeris.

          To put it a different way, when Endgame came out, a bunch of Americans whinged that Aussies were spoiling it for them. At the time, I made the comment that Aussies seeing the Marvel movies first had been happening since Iron Man, and was never a problem, so suddenly making it an issue was a personal issue on their part, not ours.

          In the space of a year talking about the movies when they came out here around ANZAC Day versus early may went from fine to taboo. You cant predict that change in attitude, nor should we have to. And to demand we dont talk about it is just arrogant. When movie releases are the other way around, they arent going to wait until we see it, are they.

          It just pisses me off a little for people to expect and demand that I live to their expectations. That goes both ways, and my expectation is for people to talk about their experiences. Again, I'm not going out of my way to spoil it, but I'm also going to comment on articles about it, like here.

    It's a tough one, on one hand spoilers suck and on the other hand it's like spoiling the sky is blue.
    I suppose the FFVII remake is gonna attract attention no matter the title as well so perhaps being a little more careful isn't completely out of the question.

    Didn't this exact fucking website spoil it a few days ago? Fuck me, you wonder why this shit-show is going under.

    I dont think its a question at all. Of course its fine to spoil. Otherwise you cant talk about any product ever. Do you not talk about Aladdin in reference to the original? Or the Lion King remake when its closer?

    Should every site on the internet stop talking about Game of Thrones because I havent seen it? Seriously, I havent. But it would be ridiculous to stop people talking about it, just like its ridiculous to expect people to not talk about a 22 year old game.

    Trying to protect the mystery is fine when its a totally new product, but when its established for any period of time, whether its a month or decades, the onus is on the person not wanting it spoiled to stop reading or watching. Not the person thats experienced the original.

      You are right to a point. It is still polite not to put spoilers in article titles or post spoiler-y header images that can be seen from the main page. I can avoid an article or a thread that may contain spoilers, but it's a little unfair to have to avoid the whole site because some tit thinks that putting a click-bait-y, spoiler-y title on the main page is a good idea :-P

        Yeah, fair enough, and I get that some effort would be nice. I just think its impractical to try and prevent spoilers for something thats been out a while. Does it matter if its a week or a decade, the information would be common knowledge that can pop up out of nowhere.

        I've seen vid or stories on the Aerith death at least 5 or 6 times in the last couple of weeks for example, whether it was a story about someone finding a way to save her (no idea if actually true or not, just that it used an extremely unlikely series of ingame events to do it), or this story talking about putting the genie back in the bottle.

        Its like avoiding telling people that Darth Vader revealed he was Luke's dad at the end of Empire, just because a new 4K version was coming out and potentially being watched by a new generation in the leadup to the saga ending. You cant undo the reveal, so to expect people to try to is impractical. Even /s'ing there wont be enough for some. Their curiosity will see them click the button.

        We're hitting peak nanny state when people start to expect that for things like this. And if you hadnt noticed, thats not me. I'm not going to deliberately spoil something, I'm not an arsehole, but I'm equally not going to go out of my way avoid it.

        If someone has interest in the FF7 remake, its because they've been exposed in some way to the original, whether its merely the mythical status of the game, or because they played it. Either way, they're going to know or have heard something. The small minority that genuinely come in clean, bad luck. Statute of limitations is long gone.

          Even /s'ing there wont be enough for some. Their curiosity will see them click the button.

          At which point, the only person they have to blame is themselves (your non sequitur of an example aside). That's not on you, that's on them - you made the effort, gave them the option to avoid the spoiler, and they opened it anyway. The important thing is you made the effort, and those who don't click it anyway will appreciate your effort, even if they won't say it then and there.

    Cmon there’s got to be limits. All remakes and remasters surely are free from spoiler accusations.
    Adaptations? Bit murkier, might depend on how close they adhere to source material. I’m not a comic reader, and hid my head in a bucket for any Marvel discussions or trailers. But were the Lord of the Rings movies in the same category? There’s a degree of personal responsibility too - if people are screaming plot-twists at you ... maybe avoid those people, they ain’t gonna change.

    We're further in time now from when FFVII released than it was from "I am your father", so I think the statute of limitations has well and truly expired by this point.

    I’m pretty sure it was spoiled for me somehow even when I first played it (I think I was 15 when it released) and it had zero effect on my enjoyment of the game. It’s like Crisis Core. Knowing the end didn’t stop it from raining inside.

    Never played the original FF7, but when I heard about the spoiler I just remember something similar had already been done in the Phantasy Star series which I'd played through a few years earlier.

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