So, this might not be the intended angle, but I’m also thinking about playing a game on release as opposed to well after. Right now, I’m kind of feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place here.
Generally, I end up playing games after their initial release. I try to buy stuff on sale, and often put off playing things. So I frequently will play things after the discourse has happened. It’s not that I want to be a part of the discourse, but rather that I can’t ignore it. Most prominent example for me are games like Outer Wilds, a game I would have loved if I had approached it without any knowledge, but all the praise I heard for it in our community put it up against impossibly high expectations. It made me wish I hadn’t heard about it at all.
Front of mind, also, though, is Blasphemous, a game I played right after it came out. Right now, thanks to Patrick Klepek’s recent praise, people are very high on this game. And I remember talking to people who had discovered it this year and were delighted by it. But I was someone who was waiting for it to launch, and I found myself very frustrated by specific elements of that game (specifically, I think the combat is incredibly boring, but I’ve written about it on this forum already). It also had a lot of issues with the main character falling through the ground at launch. I still adore that game’s world and art and writing, but I have a lot of baggage with it. I think for a lot of people, they felt like they were discovering a hidden gem from last year, which is great, but I unfortunately didn’t get that!
So the result right now is that I’m a bit envious of people who are able to come into things early, but also envious of people who are able to discover things late. I think the answer, of course, is simple: never play a video game ever again.