Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Zonk (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 25, 2009

MMO community connection:

MMOG Nation

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?

Before I got into videogaming, I was pretty much just into boringly normal stuff. Monopoly, Yahtzee with the grandparents, etc. My life as a videogamer began at Christmas of 1985. I was about 5 years old.

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

I was in little league when I was very young, and did very poorly at it. I was always much better at Mario and Duck Hunt.

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

I’ve been a tabletop gamer since I was 10. I’ve played using numerous game systems, but my favorites have always been Shadowrun and D&D. Since getting out of college I’ve mostly been running games, and I’ve had the pleasure of running two ongoing SR games and three long-standing D&D campaigns since 2002. I just began a new D&D Fourth Edition campaign about a month ago that I’m playing with some friends via Skype and the Fantasy Grounds software.

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 pretty much everything I could get my hands on when I was younger. Some favorite books/series from my youth include:

  • The Young Wizard Series (So You Want to Be A Wizard, etc..) by Diane Duane
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
  • The Bunnicula Series by James Howe
  • The Tripod Trilogy by “John Cristopher” (Samuel Youd)
  • The Johnny Dixon Series by John Bellairs

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.

An appreciation for imagination and weirdness is a theme that runs through a lot of the stuff I like to read. I’d say that ties directly into my enjoyment of gaming.

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

My mother purchased a Nintendo Entertainment System for my brother and I on the occasion of Christmas 1985. I was 5 years old.

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

Though I didn’t play in arcades as often as some folks (because of the NES at home), I definitely got in a lot of time there when the family was shopping. It was a pretty unique experience: the sound of the machines in ‘barker’ mode, the smell of the cheap pizza or uber-sugery soda. There were always older kids (teenagers) hogging the best machines, and my pitiful abilities at fighting games left me out of some of the best experiences those places had to offer. When I did hit an arcade, I tended to go for side-scrolling action titles that button-mashing would help with.

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

The first game that really affected me deeply would probably have been Legend of Zelda. The sheer scope of the game, along with its real effort at a plot and story, were incredibly novel.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

NES, SNES, Game Boy, PlayStation, N64, Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, DS, Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii.

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