WARNING: This entry contains spoilers for The Empire Strikes Back
A spoiler is the premature divulgence of an important plot point, thus "spoiling" the experience for an individual who would have preferred to learn that detail within the work itself, or in the context that the author deemed appropriate.
A spoiler is information from outside the game world that reveals part of a game's plot or how to solve a puzzle. Walkthroughs, hint systems and reviews can contain spoilers. Spoilers frequently result in knowledge conflict.
- The year is 1980; it is Friday afternoon, one day after the premiere of The Empire Strikes Back. A sixth-grader plans to see the movie after school. Some jerkwad kid whose parents must have let him skip school to wait in line the previous day bursts into a crowded locker room, shouting, "Hey, everybody! Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father!" (I'm still a little bitter about that, by the way.)
A "spoiler alert" is a courteous warning that the discussion that follows will give away details that may lessen the impact for those people who enjoy surprises.
While the study of literature is, from start to finish, a veritable carnival of spoilers, some online communities take spoilers very seriously.