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It seems everyone has their own tolerance levels. The post above me claims that being told a show gets good 5 episodes in is too much, but I'm fine with that much. However, if someone says it doesn't get good until the second season (and the first season is full length [e.g. Parks and Rec would be a case of a short, bad first season]), then I won't watch it.
As for games, it may not be altogether fair, but it depends on tug the genre. I'm willing to give more leeway to an RPG just because, by the genre's typical nature, it takes time to properly establish a world and theme and important gameplay elements. But for a platformer, I don't think the same amount of time is required to say, "I think I understand what this game is and whether or not it suits me." So to answer your question: depending on genre, anywhere from a half hour to 5 hours.
I do find your approach to games fascinating RMC. I think I do the same and try to accept the game on its terms, but my question to you then is: when do you just say a game is bad? Or at least, do you ever play a game and say "I don't like this now and I don't think I ever will"? I'll be honest and say that I don't think many people here would have given any games as many shots as you seemed to give Gears. If the game has enough supporters and it doesn't grab me at first, I'm probably willing to shelve it and say "I'll try this again later" but if it doesn't necessarily have too much hype, if it doesn't grab me, I'll probably never play it again (examples would be Metal Gear Acid 1, Gabriel Knight 2, and others).