I can’t tell where exactly was the turning point. Rather that it all went downhill before we noticed, but we’re in a really bad situation now.
The good point about datamining is that it helps to build the hype towards the new patch or expansion. It helps to bring players out of hiatus. It helps competitive players to prepare for the new systems – to come most prepared for the endgame activities and design shortcuts.
Yet we’ve reached a point where it becomes nothing else but a huge spoiler: to the extent that it may replace a game itself.
A recent post in one of WoW-related news sites is not their first spoiler one, but it somehow triggered me this time. Not the first time they did this, but the latest post is a complete layout of a new Magni questline. It is complete with text explaining the events, the complete dialogues, and gameplay videos. I’ve skipped actual reading it, but I’ve got triggered because I’ve suddenly realized you don’t even have to play the game at all – it’s all there. An episode of South Park immediately popped to mind, where Ike and his friends preferred watching Pewdiepie streaming to actual playing, and how it triggered the fab four in a similar manner.
I can’t express strongly enough how this ruins the actual game experience – the infamous sense of exploration and wonder which is a common pro-Classic argument. Of course you may close the webpage, but it requires an immense internal struggle – especially in an information hunger situation during lulls. Moreover, datamined plot points are then considered as a well-known issue and proceed to speculations and posts all over, as in “as we already know”.
It’s nobody’s fault actually. Every new thing evolves naturally to become deeper, faster, stronger until it hits the bottom and starts to ruin its purpose, therefore requiring rules and restrictions to be implemented.
For myself, I’ve made a rule now that I’m skipping datamined lore pieces wherever I meet them. I’m setting limits to Blizzard’s actual previews and announcements to keep my sense of wonder intact.
For others – well, you can’t really do anything about “news” websites (for now). I could only hope that datamined plots and questlines will be seen as they should be seen: as spoilers, and shunned and detested by the community like series and movie spoilers are shunned and detested now. I hope that one day the “news” website owners will be despised for posting spoilers and somehow realize that chasing page hits is not worth it if they really love the game they’re greedily exploiting now.
So far, I’m referring to them as “news” websites.
*sigh* We’ve got a long way to go towards civilization.