Every gamer interview includes the question of how the interviewee got started with gaming. It is an easy question for everyone involved. I guess it is a credibility or experience thing, else there might be no reason for you to listen to their advice or what they say. While I hope you are reading this blog because you find it interesting, let me give you some background of where my experience comes from.
I started gaming with the original Nintendo system around 1986 or 1987. It took a while of me begging my parents before they gave in and got it for me. While video gaming was great, I really consider my start in 1988 with AD&D Dragonlance. This is when I started reading a lot, starting with the novels and rulebooks, borrowed from schoolmates. Grade school was really an excuse to get out to recess and roll some dice. Admittedly, I thought a two-handed sword was two weapons. Solmanic Knight and their dual weapons… oops. Our DM was an ass, now that I look back, but we were children. Meh.
One year later, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition was published. Even though my parents hated it (they are still not so happy with my gaming hobbies over 25 years later), I was able to buy my own books and really make characters for the first time. We moved away from Dragonlance (we never purchased sourcebooks beyond the main rulebooks) into homebrew campaigns, into difference scenarios, and constantly starting new ideas whenever someone’s inspiration struck.
As Dungeons & Dragons became less socially acceptable in the 1990s, I played less tabletop and more computer gaming. The Internet and cable modem took up much of my gaming time as well as online communication like ICQ and AIM. My parents became much less approving of gaming in general and my time spent in front of the idiot tube of the era. Before the cable modem, there was dial-up, tying up the phone line while my parents would complain about missed calls. I would log into BBS sites late night, playing “online” games. Sometimes I marvel at how far gaming has come in such a short time.
I went away for university, so that meant more time for gaming (mostly Counter-Strike and StarCraft), but also discovered a new group of people who were interested in D&D. This was around the time 3rd Edition came about. We had some really enthusiastic DMs and it really rekindled my love for the game. One weekly game took travelling an hour and a half each way on Saturday to game. Being young and full of energy, it was no big thing and our weekly sessions would often run 8 hours or more. I would be both power gamer and in-depth character designer. This is also the time where I did more serious stints behind the screen as a Dungeon Master. While I enjoyed many different games, and truly it was a boom time for the gaming industry as a whole (d20 OGL, good and bad), I always returned to D&D.
Eventually life started getting in the way, as did console gaming. I spent many hours with the Xbox 360, but less with friends around a table. It was easier to make a call and get everyone online for Halo, harder to set aside hours to make characters and keep everyone engaged. D&D went from multiple times per week to barely twice monthly, attention spans went with. No more marathon sessions either. If we could get a few people together for three hours, we considered it a victory.
Organizing an Extra Life event this year made me realize that sometimes things need to be prioritized, even if it conflicts with life. There were scheduling conflicts, last minute cancellations, and a venue change an hour before start. But through all that, it went just fine. People gamed, slept (and snored), we raised some money, and had a great time. There are gamers crawling out of the woodwork, sometimes we have not scratched deep enough to make a mark. Go beyond the dirty belly button guy and you can find a great group for a get together.
I have nearly 30 years as a gamer and I intend for many more. The most important thing I discovered over the years is to enjoy yourself and the company you game with, never detract from someone else’s fun (“don’t be a dick”), and let your gaming be a conduit to greater things.
Preachy… but it comes with experience.
But… what do I know…?