Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Ravious (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 24, 2009

MMO community connection:

Kill Ten Rats

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?

Everything I could get my hands on. I distinctly remember Candy Land as my earliest game played. My dad taught me chess before I was ten years old, but I didn’t beat him until he made a mistake with his queen a few years later. I played tabletop roleplaying games as a kid, and my friends and I were constantly making variations of tag and hide’n’seek. Very rarely was my gameplaying a solo activity… until computer games came, but by then we were no longer playing those games together anymore.

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

I loved to draw. As a military brat, I had to constantly make new friends, and some of the easier friends to make are the loners or fringe kids. One friend taught me how to draw. He also drew many fantasy creatures, which just amazed me. He stayed in his room all the time though so it was hard to go get drawing lessons when it was sunny outside. I also played piano, cooked, and played all those sports that kids play.

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

Definitely. My first exposure was a vanilla dungeon and dragons game. I played a druid, and being a little kid with some crazy ideas (not to mention imagination), I decided to switch sides in the temple of evil and pledge allegiance to the unholy spirit lord. It (the GM) killed me instead. After that I played DnD for awhile, created a simple roleplaying game based off of the Mossflower books when I was twelve, and it just grew from there. My favorite one, currently, is Werewolf the Forsaken or maybe Nobilis.

I think that, more than any other childhood hobby, pen and paper roleplaying games had the biggest impact. It was applied imagination. There were no boundaries, and I didn’t even have to play to “use” it. Thinking up stories, people, and creations definitely got me through many boring classes.

Unfortunately, now I have very little time or people to tabletop roleplay anymore. I am hoping one day to get back in to it, but my life needs to settle down a bit first.

(As an aside, I have found the Mythic GM Emulator to be a fantastic system for solo TTRPG play. I even created a supplement for it called the Universal NPC Emulator.)

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.

All the time. I lost more sleep as a child refusing to put down books. I read a ton of fantasy such as Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Brian Jacque’s Mossflower books, Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain (Black Cauldron), Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea, and C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. Weirdly enough I did not read the Lord of the Rings until my teenage years. I also really liked Roald Dahl’s stories.

Reading (as a skill) is super important to me, and we read to our daughter every night and use it was a play time activity all the time (even though she is only 2.5 years old).

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.

I think so. For one, I am one of the rare MMO gamers that read every ounce of quest text. The world that the developers create (and story therein) can be a brilliant work of art. Too many gamers bypass the text to figure out which blob to run to next. I think that is the biggest thing the games and books had an effect on for my computer gaming. Conversely to my tabletop roleplaying experience, I do not seriously roleplay in any MMOs. Sometimes I throw out a “My captain senses a great squamous battle ahead”-line for a chuckle, and I have been known to become the Guardian of the Mailbox when grouping is slow… but that’s about it.

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

My dad bought an Atari 2600. I was pretty young… but I don’t remember the date. I remember being upset because he didn’t buy the NES with the cool robot. We played Battletanks together awhile, but he drifted away from the system altogether and I drifted towards my friends’ houses with NES systems. I was one of the kids with the worst game ever produced: E.T.

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

I played coin-ops throughout much of my childhood and teenage years. The first one I really played was Super Mario at the after school Boys and Girls Club. There was a line and a crowd to play. When I was eleven or twelve, my friends and I would ride our bikes five miles or more away from home to go play Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct at the local 7-11. The mall also used to be packed with all the fighting games and players lining up their quarters. It was great fun, and a dry tear forms everytime I pass by a lonely mall arcade now. At least I can have a blast (and a beer) at Dave and Busters.

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

That’s a tough call. I want to say Super Mario 3 or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES. I had played plenty of other video games before that, but those two really swung home how great video games could be. From there it became a hobby and not a mere activity.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

2600, NES, Gameboy, SNES, N64, PS, Dreamcast, GC, PS2, DS, and Wii. My console gaming time has dropped severely after my first kid was born. Sometime I play Wii Music with my two year old, but she only is amused for a few songs. I figure as her motor (and mind) skills increase my playtime will pick up. The Wii as a toy, more than a gaming console is a great gateway drug for consoles.

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

In a small town in Missouri (Westphalia, if I recall correctly) some guy made a pizza store and arcade on mainstreet. I think the owner envisioned it was an after school hangout one sees in classic 50’s and 60’s movies. My cousins, sister, and I went there one summer afternoon, and we were given $10 each to basically waste the day away there eating pizza and playing arcade games. This was during the time that Mortal Kombat 2 or 3 and Killer Instinct 1 or 2 seemed to reign (mid 90’s_. The pizza shop had none of that. It was all “vintage” arcade games like Robotron, Joust, cocktail Galaga, and Golden Axe. We ate St. Louis style pizza all day, and we were the only kids in there that day. It was like our own little video game paradise in a town not big enough to own a Walmart. I hope it is a day I will never forget.

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