Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Tipa (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 25, 2009

MMO community connection:

West Karana

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?

Board and card games were really popular when I was a kid. Monopoly was a favorite, if we had time. At school, sometimes we played Scrabble in home room. Which seems odd, looking back on it. My sister and I played Chutes & Ladders and Candyland to death. When we visited our grandmother, we would play Sorry, Clue and Canasta with our cousins. Mom taught us kids to play Whist, Uno and Mille Bornes.

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

I read a lot. I also played trumpet and later color guard for the local Fife & Drum corp.

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

Yes, I was in the gaming club at the University of New Hampshire. We played AD&D first edition, Traveler, Kingmaker, Diplomacy, and way too much Risk. That’s where I learned to play Hearts, too.

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.

My mom was a huge reader, so mostly I read whatever books she read. And SHE got her books from a hippie named Norm. While babysitting for Norm and his wife, Gloria, I discovered Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, which changed my musical life forever.

I graduated from Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins to Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” books, which were — WEIRD. I read the Heinlein juveniles, because they were in the school library (Have Spacesuit — Will Travel, Tunnel in the Sky). During sixth grade science class, the girl sitting next to me was reading Kurt Vonnegut’s “Sirens of Titan”, and after that, nothing was the same. Turns out my father was also a Vonnegut fan. He used to work at GE, briefly, just out of college, and so had Vonnegut (though not at the same time or place). Dad was a HUGE fan of Vonnegut’s barely disguised satire of work at GE, “Player Piano”. And for some reason, he liked “Breakfast of Champions”, too.

My mom was more into the usual science fiction, and it was through her that I first read any Philip K. Dick. I’m not sure which book of his was the first I read, but “The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch” scarred me for life after I read it.

Mom gave me a boxed set of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings when I was 12 — I still have that, that’s one of the only two things she gave me that I still have. I wore out my copy of Richard Bach’s “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, and remember saving up my money to buy James Blish’s “Cities in Flight”.

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.

No, arcade games and later, computer games were a wholly new experience.

Well, when I was a kid, there really was nobody known as a “gamer” in the way we think of people today — a large subculture of people interested in gaming in general. That sort of generalizing wasn’t really common. So I really can’t answer how computer games or RPGs affected me in the years before either existed, in any public sense.

1980 was when I first realized that there was such a thing as a gamer, and that you could identify as one. Wargaming, the domain of middle-aged men, was being overtaken by the next generation. Even though you specifically said not to talk about computer RPGs or MMORPGs, it was computer games — via “Hunt the Wumpus” and “Hamurabi” and a thousand other games from the dawn of personal computing in the 70s — and then with Colossal Cave Adventure, Dungeon (AKA Zork), DECWars/Megawars, Walter Bright’s Empire and Rogue, all of which I played first in college — that made me a gamer.

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

The bowling alley in Concord (NH) had a few pinball machines. And one day, they had piinball machines plus Spacewar and that snake game and Bricks. This must have been 1976 or so (so I’d be about 15). After that, video games were everywhere — Sub Hunt in the local pizza place, Space Invaders and Boot Hill and some racing game in the Sheraton’s lobby. When I went to college in 1979, the golden age of arcade gaming was just beginning — Galaxian, that 3D tank game, Asteroids…

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

Yes. In fact, on our honeymoon, we went to an arcade in Laconia, on Lake Winnepesauke. Among other things 🙂 New Hampshire is still famous for its Funspot arcade, home of the Classic Videogame and Pinball Tournament.

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

Space Invaders. I’d won some certificate for a meal at a local restaurant at school. My grandfather brought me, and we were seated at a table with a built in Space Invaders. I had so much fun 🙂

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Atari 2600, Colecovision, Super Nintendo, Playstation (1,2 & 3), Dreamcast, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, Xbox 360.

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

Not sure I have any. As a kid, games were just how you spent rainy Saturdays.


One Response to “Tipa (Chapter 2)”

  1. Ysharros said

    Tubular Bells!! Life-changing experience, I entirely agree.

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