As I mentioned last month, I’m planning to write more about short games. Which is, I fear somewhat at tension with my current policy vis-a-vis spoilers, namely that I don’t worry about spoilers at all. I don’t go out of my way to highlight them, and probably the fact that I discuss game plots relatively little means that they’re not too thick on the ground in my posts, but they’re certainly there.

I do this because I’ll be less likely to be able to talk about what really interests me if I avoid spoilers, and because I think scrupulous spoiler avoidance urges us inappropriately to take a standard review approach. And I don’t worry about spoiling things for my audience because I generally play games rather later than the curve, and because there are enough other web sites out there to do spoiler-free reviews that, if you’re particularly worried about such things but still need information about a game before playing it, you’ll have more than enough places to find such information. So I figure that people who read my posts on games have either already played through the games in question or are unlikely enough to do so that my spoiling some aspect of the game won’t bother them.

With short games, though, the tensions change. There isn’t a massive industry dedicated to reviewing such games; there isn’t huge release date hype pressuring us to play the games as soon as they’re launched; and they’re more likely to turn on one surprising design element that players might prefer to uncover for themselves. But, on the flip side, the reasons for not avoiding spoilers are at least as strong for short games: in particular, if they turn on one surprising design element and I don’t talk about that, than what am I supposed to talk about?

Fortunately, the short length of the games themselves give me an out: if a game only takes five or fifteen minutes to play, and if people don’t want to have their experience of the game spoiled, then they can just go and play the game! So what I am planning to do is this: in the first paragraph of discussions of such games, I’ll give a link to where you can play it and an estimate of how long it will take. If you don’t want to your experience of the game to be spoiled but still are curious about what I have to say, then click on that link; I’ll be there when you come back.

Of course, this is all a bit academic while Mass Effect 2 has me in its clutches…

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