Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Esri (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 23, 2009

MMO community connection:

Gaming Granny

Chapter 2: Origins

What kind of games (if any) did you play as a child before you got into video gaming? Did you play with family, friends or was it more of a solo activity?

I played many kinds of games as a child — board games (Monopoly, Life, Trouble, etc…), card games (from Go Fish and War to Spades and Poker), outdoor games (tag, hide and seek, Red Rover). Games were always played with others. I often played with my troll, Gumby and Pokey making up stories alone, but those weren’t games as there were no “rules” or predetermined actions.

What other hobbies and/or activities did you have as a child (sports, music, etc)?

I was not a very athletic child — I did as much physical activity as required in school, rode my bicycle as a form of transportation and for fun daily and that’s about it. In the summers we usually swam every day either in a pool or in a river somewhere. I played the accordion for about six months and that pretty much sums up “music”. I played with my friends, siblings and cousins. I read books incessantly. I watched television for a few hours in the afternoon and maybe 2 hours in the evenings.

Were you ever exposed to pen and paper role playing games? What was that experience like?

I never played pen and paper games as a child. As a young adult (early 20s) I played Dungeons and Dragons with my husband and a group of his friends. D&D filled a spot I didn’t know was empty — I loved science fiction and fantasy as a child and the chance to “be” in a fantasy world was a dream come true.

Did you read much as a child? If so, what did you like to read (books, comic books, etc?) Please list some favorite authors, titles, etc. 

I read incessantly. My mother used to kick me out of the house to “get some sunshine”. I read mostly animal stories as a young child and then as a teenager I read everything from gothic romances to science fiction to non-fiction to historical novels… My favorite books as a child were the animal stories by Ernest Thompson and the series starting with “Big Red” by Jim Kjelgaard. I loved “Black Beauty” and the “Black Stallion” series. When I was about 11 I discovered the “Tarzan” series and devoured all of those. In my early teens I started reading science fiction by Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke and many others. I was a charter member of the “Science Fiction Book Club” when I was about 14-15. I still have those books on my book shelf today.

Would you say that any of these games or books had an effect on your later appreciation of computer gaming and ultimately MMOs? Please explain.

Not directly, but if you live mostly in your imagination as a child it has to have an effect on what you do as an adult. Reading about “darkest Africa” or living on Mars certainly made me susceptible to wishing I could live somewhere less mundane than Virginia or Louisiana 😉

How were you fist introduced to video games? How old were you? What was the platform?

The first video game I bought for myself, rather than my sons, was “Pool of Radiance” for the Commodore 128. I was 31 years old. Prior to that I had played games on my sons Atari 2600 system, but not very often. I played a bit of Asteroids and Space Invaders to keep the boys amused, but never got into them myself. When I played “Pool of Radiance” though, I was hooked. I played all the gold box games, then Baldur’s Gate.

Did you ever play coin-op games at the arcade? What was that experience like?

Only with my kids. Again, never a great attraction for me.

What was the first video game you can remember playing that really made an impression on you? Please explain.

“Pool of Radiance”. It was like D&D came to life — even with its little blocky graphics. “Pool of Radiance” was the first game I ever played that caused me to put off doing other stuff I should be doing, like cooking dinner (they never starved, but dinner was late quite a few times).

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

I’ve never personally owned a console until the Wii. My sons had an Atari 2600, a Nintendo NES, a Nintendo 64 and a Playstation while they lived with us.

Feel free to share a story related to your gaming experience as a child.

There is an old movie, the first movie Steve McQueen ever starred in, called “The Blob”. It’s a monster movie about this blob of jelly that comes out of a meteorite and starts eating all the people in this little town. It must have shown on the “Creature Feature” on Saturday afternoon at least once a month. My cousins and siblings and I made up a version of tag based on “The Blob”. Basically, if “The Blob” tagged you, you had to hold hands with someone who was already part of “The Blob” while you tried to catch everyone who wasn’t yet a part of “The Blob”. It was huge fun and by the time you got 6 or 8 (or more) kids in “The Blob” it became a real power struggle as to who was in charge of where you were going and usually ended with a huge pile of arms and legs on the ground somewhere.


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