Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

David (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 24, 2009

MMO community connection:

Timesink

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?

Growing up I used to play board games quite often with my two sisters. We played the typical games, Monopoly, LIFE, Sorry, etc. Aside from board games, most of my time was spent outside with the neighbourhood kids playing ball tag, hide and go seek, and just about any other game we could think of.

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

I’ve played hockey my whole life, and soccer until I was fifteen or so. I was forced to take piano lessons for one year which I didn’t enjoy.

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

I wasn’t heavily exposed to pen and paper RPGs, but I always wanted to play them. I had the basic set (Red Box) released in 1983 but only played it a little bit with a few friends off and on, certainly not enough to leave a lasting impression. Only recently, with the release of fourth edition have I started to play more, although due to various commitments and other excuses, we don’t get together as much as I’d like. I love the idea of playing, making it happen is where the difficulty lies.

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 wasn’t a heavy reader. Any reading I did was either comic books (X-Factor, Batman), or Choose Your Own Adventure-style books. My favourites were the Fighting Fantasy books done by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, of which I had quite a few.

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.

There’s no doubt the books I read had an influence on my video gaming habits, especially the Fighting Fantasy books which are essentially basic computer role-playing games, minus the computer. I once converted one of the books, I think it was “Island of the Lizard King”, into a simple game using BASIC on my Commodore 64. I literally re-typed the book into the program and connected all the pages using a series of GOTO statements based on whatever page the player wanted to go to next. I had a lot of free time back then.

As far as I can remember I’ve enjoyed exploring alternate worlds and the books I read, and later, the games I played complemented that.

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

I don’t remember having a huge interest in video games as a kid. Back then the only time I saw them were in the malls on display (I have no idea what systems, probably Colecovision) or arcade machines in restaurants. A friend of mine eventually got an Atari system and even then I don’t really remember playing with it much; we were always outside.

Things started to change when my dad brought home a Commodore 64 one day (if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say it was 1983-84ish). That thing rocked my world, it was so cool. Miner 2049er was the first game I played on it and I was hooked. As such, I consider the C64 my introduction to video games.

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

When I was little, the arcades were strictly off-limits. It was where all the “bad kids” went. As a result, aside from the odd machine in a restaurant here and there I didn’t play the coin-ops until later.

When I was about 13 or 14 there was a local arcade that would let you book your birthday party there. This became the big thing for my circle of friends to do. The birthday boy would get an unlimited supply of quarters while everyone else got a set amount, and we’d just go crazy for an hour or two. Those birthday parties were amazing.

The corner store by my place had a Double Dragon machine which was the greatest thing ever for that particular summer. I remember feeling pretty awesome the time I finished that game on one quarter. The crappy thing about it was when playing co-op, I could never seem to beat my friend at the very end after fighting the machine gun dude, and I’d always lose the girl.

Later on, during my last year or two of high-school, there was a place that had eight Daytona USA cabinets connected together. A bunch of us would go and race each other on weekends, which was crazy fun.

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

There have been a lot of games that I’ve played that have made an impression on me, but there are a few that were just different in some way and really stood out. Perhaps the first one would be Times of Lore on my Commodore 64. Wikipedia tells me it released in 1988 yet I can still remember it quite well. It was the first game that really drew me in to its world, which was absolutely huge for its time. It doesn’t surprise me in the least to see it was developed by Origin Systems, they made awesome games.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Commodore 64, Turbo Grafx-16, Super Nintendo, Gameboy Advance, Xbox, Game Cube, Xbox 360.

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

Answering these questions has certainly sparked some fond memories. The next time I’m over at my dad’s place I’m going to have to search through the boxes in the basement to see if my old Fighting Fantasy books are buried away there.

I don’t really have a specific story pertaining to my gaming experience as a child, but what I remember most fondly is getting together with friends and taking turns playing whatever game it was we had rented for the weekend. I wonder if kids still do that, or do they just stay in their respective homes and play over the internet?

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