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Shack Chat: How do you handle video game leaks?

This week, the Shack Staff has a discussion around video game leaks and how we all handle them in our own ways.


It's that time again, time for the Shack Staff to all gather around and share our opinions on another topic. We know that you're dying to hear what we think, so let's dive right into this week's question without wasting any time. There's tons of games to enjoy right now and plenty of quarantine time to enjoy them in. We hope you're still staying home to protect yourself and others. 

Question: How do you handle video game leaks?

I don’t want to spoil it for other people - Asif Khan, Staying at Home

It’s not that we don’t report on leaks in our business, it is just that I would never intentionally try to spoil a game for someone. What happened with The Last of Us Part 2 totally sucks for everyone who worked years on the project, and it can have a direct financial impact on them as well. 

When we do report on leaks at Shacknews, we frequently warn readers about spoilers, but at the same time it seems that leaks are becoming more and more common. I personally have not watched The Last of Us 2 footage, and I will just play the game when it comes out.

Now, if anyone wants to leak F-Zero on Switch information, holler at your boy.

Embark on the impossible task of avoiding spoilers - Ozzie Mejia

There are times when I'll read a story like this week's and if the leaks are particularly story-heavy, I'll try and avoid the information as best as possible. It's both as a courtesy to the people who poured their hearts and souls into the story and also to myself, because hey, I might want to see that story for myself. Why ruin it?

Having said that, man has it become hard to avoid spoilers in the age of social media and especially in the age of YouTube/Twitch. I brought this up in a Chatty thread earlier this week, but I went to watch a completely unrelated Assassin's Creed livestream on YouTube and as I went to close the chat, I was bombarded with Last of Us spoilers. People really can't help themselves and it's made trying to avoid spoilers for anything in the modern day a nightmare. I try to avoid leaked story details. I'm often not successful.

I avoid them if possible - Blake Morse, Reviews Editor

Sometimes finding out what a leak contains is inevitable in my field, because I’ll have to report on it and need to know what I’m talking about. Beyond that though, I find it pretty easy to avoid leaks and spoilers. Especially nowadays when most people on the internet are fairly courteous about maintaining spoiler-free zones on social media, or at least they are in my personal bubble. I do have a few friends that start talking about things too loosely too early, but that’s how they end up getting blocked. 

With solid preparation - Chris Jarrard, Wetwork aficionado

First thing’s first — you’re gonna wanna lay down some sort of tarp or other similar protection unless you have wood floors or some other non-porous surface. All the fun of leaking kind of goes out the window if you have to deal with wet carpet or odors once the main event concludes.

Second — always be sure to drink plenty of water beforehand. You want the end result to be as clear as possible for your own sake, and the sake of any others who may be participating. It’s just good etiquette. Also, don’t be the guy who scarfs down loads of asparagus before the show. It’s not cool.

Last rule — remember to have fun and not take things so seriously! 

Depends on the game - Sam Chandler, Guides Editor

If the leaks are about a heavily story-driven game, count me out. I don’t want to hear about it. The biggest thing about story-driven games is seeing how things evolve and shift from scene to scene and throughout each act. Had the story of RDR2 or God of War been spoiled early, that would have been devastating. The same is true for The Last of Us 2.

On the other hand, if the game’s focus is more on gameplay (Borderlands 3, Destiny 2, etc), sign me up for those spoilers. I’ll gladly read datamined information and the rest. 

The caveat to all this is a moral one. If the leak comes from within a company, for the purpose of gaining leverage or hurting someone, that’s just poor form. Don’t ruin the hard work of your co-workers.

Avoid like the plague, in most cases - Donovan Erskine, Intern

I hate spoilers. I think you’d have to be a cold, sad person to get any joy out of purposely spoiling a story for someone else. When I hear that spoilers are going around, I practically avoid all comment sections and threads regarding the game in question. It ruins the experience, and can take out the emotional punch of the narrative. 

That’s my stance on story spoilers. Now, my feelings change in terms of “announcement” spoilers. For example, I wasn’t upset when it was leaked days before E3 2017 that the new Assassins Creed game would be set in Egypt.  Those don’t ruin the experience for me. However, leaks of all sorts hurt the devs more than anybody else. Because of that, I do my best to avoid seeing and/or spreading them.

It’s part of the job, but I tend to avoid them - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor

I don't really care either way about leaks when it comes to accidentally seeing them on a social media feed or written up as part of video game coverage, because they happen. There's nothing I can do about it. It's my job to cover any major leaks as well so I'll inevitably end up seeing what the hubbub is all about, though I usually don't go looking for the information if it's a game I'm interested in going into blind. 

That said, I don’t condone or appreciate "leakers" who are popular for guessing about information about announcements or things that are about to happen in the industry and insisting they're correct, then rolling around in praise like a pig in you-know-what when one or two of the things happens to come true. Being a "leaker" is nothing to be proud of. It's pathetic to make a "name" for yourself ruining others' accomplishments and hard work. You aren't someone to be celebrated because someone told you something and you turned around and shared it with the world. You just can't keep a secret. 

These days, we have to know every single little detail about a game before it's ever available to play, and much of this cycle is due to leakers who can't keep their mouths shut. Can we not have intrigue or surprise anymore? Seems that way sometimes. And while I don’t particularly mind being spoiled in some situations since it’s my job to know certain things about games before they release to inform readers, I don’t think it’s impressive that someone knew the order of a game conference’s announcements or the contents of a demo before it happened.

Avoid like Human Contact - Bill Lavoy, Power 1,016 (Still)

I avoid leaks in gaming as much as possible. I know that someone leaked information about The Last of Us Part 2. I have no idea what they leaked. I never will. Thinking about what it would be like to work on a project for years, only to have everything spoiled before release, breaks my heart for the people who worked on the game. Even if this leak was retaliation for working conditions, it doesn’t just hurt the folks making the decisions, it hurts everyone who had anything to do with development. I’ll never pay any attention to leakes because doing so is rewarding the person that leaked it.

The end doesn’t matter, only how we got there - Josh Hawkins, Guides Guy

When I first started my course for my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing for Entertainment, my first professor said something that has sat with me since. During our first class, he shushed everyone and then asked how we felt about spoilers. Obviously, there were mixed reactions from everyone, but the professor quickly shushed everyone again basically told anyone worried about spoilers to get out.

Sure, it might seem a bit extreme, but it opened my eyes a bit, and honestly, working in the industry we work in -- doing what I do every day -- I don’t really feel the need to care about spoilers or leaks. Sure, I’m all for respecting people’s boundaries and not ruining things for them, but for me, leaks are just another reason to get excited -- or be apprehensive -- about things.

Take the latest leak for The Last of Us Part 2. Yeah, I’m not exactly happy about everything shared within, but we’re also seeing a lot taken out of context. We don’t have the full depth of the experience and the story behind those small tidbits. For me, it’s always been more about the journey. I don’t care if I know how something ends, I still want to know and experience how the story ended up where it did. Leaks, spoilers, none of it really makes a difference to me.

I have to see them, but you don’t - TJ Denzer, the dude writing about the leaks

Ultimately, it’s been my job for years to cover video game news. Leaks, whether I like them or not, are part of that spectrum. Now, I will say I do my best to handle leaks in a way that allows readers to decide for themselves whether or not they want to go down the rabbit hole (that is to say, pointing out that the rabbit hole exists while not revealing fully what is in it), but in order to convey information appropriately, I pretty much have to see for myself what the leak consists of.

With that in mind, it’s hard to even remember a time where leaks affected me positively or negatively. I like knowing things. I like understanding the situation. But I also like a good, positive surprise, or to know I’m in for disappointment so as to prepare myself or save my time.

What I do care about is the people that want to enjoy things when they enjoy them and the folks making these products who try their best to keep any semblance of surprise intact. Leaks suck for both of those parties. I have plenty of friends in games development and most of them dread the possibility of a leak. It’s an anxious and uncomfortable part of the business. So the best I can do is simply navigate the waters and report what’s happening, while attempting to keep the mystique and surprises alive. I don’t always do it right, but I do try.

I used to care, but I stopped caring - Greg Burke, Deep in the Mines

In High School and maybe a little in my College. I used to care about spoilers, in any form, books, TV, Films, and Video Games. However, now, it just doesn’t really bother me. I don’t go actively looking for spoilers in games, but if they come up, it’s really not a big deal to me. Some people act as if it’s life of death if they find out what happens in a game before they play it, I’m not that person. I won’t spoil stuff for other people, but the entire story to The Last of US Part 2 was spoiled for me, and it really didn’t bug me. It shouldn't be the end that matters, but how those characters get there, just my own opinion. Video game leaks in general happen, whether Walmart post a sku, or a disgruntled dev uploads the whole game online, etc. I work in an industry where I can’t let it bother me and honestly it wouldn't anyway. Leaks are big news for games, like it or not, and even if you don’t spoiler exactly what the leak was you still should report on it. Just my two cents.

YOLO - David L. Craddock, long reads editor

As a writer, I often find myself working backward. I think about the end of a story, and then work my way to the beginning. I do this because I'm more interested in the "how" than the "why" of storytelling. I don't seek out spoilers, leaks, et cetera. But if they drop into my lap, as this week's ending of The Last of Us 2 did, I'll look. Now that I know more about the game's denouement, I'm even more excited to play: With the ending in mind, I'll be paying closer to attention to the craft of the story. Does the ending make sense given all the work Naughty Dog did to arrive there? Time will tell.

That aside, I don't share spoilers. I understand I'm the odd person out in how I treat them. If other people want to go in fresh, I won't soil that experience.

Avoid them the best I can - Steve Tyminski, Contributing Editor

With this era of social media, there’s going to be information leaks on just about any topic. One of the more frequent types is when video game information gets released on Twitter or Facebook but the question at hand is “ how do you handle it?” People shouldn’t have to block words on social media so they can still use their favorite sites without having a game spoiled. Games like Super Mario Odyssey and Pokémon Sword/Shield were games I wanted to go in as fresh as I could but still had some aspects spoiled by people who post tweets with info, like the whole Galar Pokedex   It does annoy me sometimes when leaks for a big name title that developers have been putting so much time into leak to the masses. A simple answer to the question is avoiding the leaks as best as I can.

It's your turn. What do you think about leaks and how do you approach them? Be sure to let us know in the comments below and come back next Friday for another Shack Chat!

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 1, 2020 2:00 PM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Chat: How do you handle video game leaks?

    • reply
      May 1, 2020 7:28 PM

      I’ve got to say, you made a little bit of a mistake in the last article about Sony finding the culprits. I have avoided the leaks entirely and the caption on the photo in that article mentions Joel. That was annoying because although it seemed within reason to expect, it could’ve moved on entirely.

      If it was me, I’d go fix that.

    • reply
      May 2, 2020 7:34 AM

      I just ignore rumor/spoiler articles. For example, I have no idea what was spoiled for TLOU 2.

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