When I was a child, I had a monthly subscription to Game Informer (via GameStop), and that was my primary, sometimes only, source of news. I remember bringing an issue with me to summer camp in 2001 or 2002 and re-reading in bed every night before sleeping. I clung to every word like they were precious droplets of water, and I found myself stranded in the middle of The Empty Quarter.
At this point in my life, print media was my primary source of gaming information. I loved reading about new up and coming games. I loved seeing how excited the author was about all of the cool features promised, the graphics, and the gameplay elements. I enjoyed reading their subsequent reviews months later about the same game, seeing if the developers delivered on their promises or if the game was a massive disappointment.
My favorite example of this is with a game called Jurassic Park III: Park Builder for the Gameboy Advance. I remember reading the preview of this game and thinking that it could quickly become my favorite game of all time (child brain, I know). They didn’t always include a release date, but rather a general idea when it might release. I used to go shopping with my mom and sneak away to the video game section to see if it had hit store shelves yet. Weeks passed without a single trace of the game. I’d dream of the day where I was the proud owner of Jurassic Park III: Park Builder.
Sadly that day never came. The review finally released and slandered the game for containing copious amounts of bugs and gameplay glitches. The author claimed it had no polish and lacked vital elements that they promised during the preview period. I never found the game on store shelves, I don’t know if I wasn’t looking hard enough, or it just had a limited release due to poor reception. Even with today’s technology, and the ability for me to easily play this game, I stay away from it.
My experience of this game to this day is the one I just depicted above. I don’t want to risk overwriting this experience with a potentially problematic play-through of a mediocre game. In my mind, this game is perfect, fun, and pure.
Today we have a continuous drip-feed of constant media coverage — Youtube channels dedicated to over-analyzing every frame of footage from trailers. Gaming companies are trying to fight for public attention and pervasive relevance. The focus of the internet is hard to hold, so in an attempt to stay relevant, game development studios/publishers will release (in my opinion) too much information. If the game has a longer than expected development time, there is a good chance that you might know all there is to know about a game before release. (Kingdom Hearts 3 comes to mind)
Information is a powerful tool. When it comes to spending your hard-earned money and valuable time on a game, you should make an informed decision. However, if you know you will enjoy a game (Animal Crossing New Horizons in my case), I challenge you to try and consume as little media as possible. As hard as it might be, you owe it to yourself to enjoy everything first hand, in-game, as the developer intended. Go on a complete media blackout, and then once the game releases, compare your experience as a whole to one where you consumed every detail of a game before release. See, which was more enjoyable. It might be different for you, everyone has different tastes, but for me, I love seeing new things in the game for the first time. I love being surprised by the hard work and creativity of the development team.