This is something that's been bugging me for a while, but it's come to light more prominently recently and I think it's especially worth addressing now.
The example in mind is that the thread for the new Metal Gear announcement contains an apparent ending spoiler for MGS4. As someone rightly pointed out in the thread, people could well be interested in this psuedo-announcement because it might be coming to the 360, and so have never played MGS4.
It's since been enclosed in spoiler tags, but it's still visible in quotes that were quoted before it was spoiled, and there's still no context available about it being an ending spoiler or anything other than a joke. I clicked the spoiler, and having just bought the game for my nice new PS3 I'm incredibly pissed off that I now know something about the game that should have been revealed to me in the course of playing it.
We all know there have been a ton of grade-A titles released over the last couple of weeks. It's very feasible for someone not to get around to buying or playing games like Mirror's Edge or Prince of Persia until February, even for an enthusiast crowd like we have here on the forums. In the Mirror's Edge thread, however, barely a week after launch, people were talking openly about plot elements.
It goes further than something like this, though. I don't subscribe to the idea that if a game's been out a while then all bets are off. It took me over a year to finish BioShock, and yet a very late portion of the game was ruined for me because I found out that near the end
you have to become a Big Daddy.
I'm aware that the longer a game has been out the more likely it is that the plot is more well-known, but when games cost the amount they do and some are exclusive, it's not unreasonable to think that people aren't going to buy them on the week of release.
If you had a friend who had never seen the Sixth Sense or Fight Club, would you assume he knew its plot and talk about it, or allow him to have that experience? "But those films are old
, surely everyone
knows it by now! What? You've never seen a Star Wars film? Man, you'll love it in the Empire Strikes Back when-"
The spoiler rule that we have right now is essentially "spoil stuff that warrants it, provide context so no-one gets caught out." It worked well in the GTA IV thread at release, for example, but while I haven't looked in the thread for a while I can pretty much guarantee that there are some pretty major uncovered spoilers in there. People who don't have a console and have waited for the PC release should definitely not read earlier pages. I don't think someone should be exposed to something like that because of their choice of platform or because they can't afford a full-price game.
The main change I'm looking for is a little more thought about what should go into a spoiler and a little more clarification on time. I'm not suggesting every post in a thread be spoilered, but certain games have certain key revelations that shouldn't be revealed to people who have yet to play them.
As an aside, is it possible to have spoiler context be a part of the tag, similar to how quotes work?
[ spoiler=ending spoilers for game X ] content [/ spoiler ]