Over the last few years, I’ve adopted a policy.
If an upcoming release seems like it’s going to be good, I avoid every single piece of information about it like the plague. Trailers, reviews, discussions,
E V E R Y T H I N G.
To illustrate why I do this, we’re going to go through a trailer together. For no particular reason, let’s use the announcement trailer for Ni No Kuni 2, which was upoaded to Youtube on the 5'th of december, 2015.
Spoiler warning, obviously.
It starts out by showing scenes from the intro sequence of the game. I don’t have a problem with this in general, except for one particular scene, at 00:39:
With this one scene, any curiosity about this character is ruined. Now, when I encounter her in the game, I know that she’s going to die as part of the story, reducing any investment I had in her character to 0. Gone is all speculation about whether she becomes a playable character or not, or about who she is. The only remaining question is whether they will pull her back out of the refrigerator or not.
So with two seconds of imagery in a trailer, they have, to me, almost ruined an entire character. Let’s move on.
The next important scene comes at 00:59:
Here, we are shown that we will fly in these machines, as well as cooperate with the people flying them. This removes any surprise at the flight scenes. The question changes from “Will we fly?” to “WHEN will we fly?”. It also introduces this character as an ally.
This one isn’t as big as the previous one, but it still gives away a massive amount of information.
Moving on, the next scene comes at 01:08:
Here, we are shown a character swear allegiance to the main character. Now, what’s particularly bad about this is that when you first encounter this character in the game, he’s hostile towards you. By seeing this scene, that hostility becomes hollow and meaningless, because we know that soon enough, him and all of his comrades will follow you.
Next up, we have a scene at 01:22:
This scene shows one of the major cities in the game under siege by a massive beast. This means that when I encounter this city, I will think “Ah, the city that’s going to come under attack.”. This removes any surprise I could have had at that event, because I’m prepared for it. The beast also happens to be a boss that becomes corrupted as part of the storyline.
Finally, the last informative scene is at 01:35:
Here, we are introduced to the antagonist. We are thankfully not shown his motives or methods, but it still shows enough to remove the surprise at his first appearance, where he is “disguised”.
So yeah, by watching a single, two minute long trailer, a huge amount of information has been provided to us that can massive change the emotional impact of key scenes throughout the game. Knowing the outcome of an exchange makes all of the interaction that leads up to it that much weaker, because it removes the element of uncertainty.
Honestly, in an ideal world I would just want to be told a very small amount of vague information about a game, such as the genre and the mood, along with a simple “this game is worth playing”, but that’s near impossible. Partially due to how difficult it is to avoid the information, and due to the importance of making informed purchases. Despite this, reducing the amount of information I take in about an upcoming release has strongly increased my enjoyment of games. One of my most memorable games of 2017 was Prey, and one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed that game so much was because I had absolutly 0 information about it going in. Same goes for Pokemon Sun, which was a LOT more enjoyable because I hadn’t looked up any of the new pokemon before the game was released.
Have you had any similar experiences? Feel free to share your experiences or your own tactics regarding information intake in relation to new releases.