Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Jaxom (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 26, 2009

MMO community connection:

The Middle-Earth Adventurer

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 some elementary board games such as Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. I also made up a bunch of games using various toys I had, particularly with decks of cards though.

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

I loved to read and play with Legos. I wasn’t into sports very much, being a small kid, but I did play viola for a while in Middle School and High School.

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

No, I never got into D&D or any of the other pen and paper rpgs. I had been misinformed by some people, not my parents, that those types of activities were “evil.” As such there was never a desire to play them. Now, however, I would be interested in getting involved in one should I have the time and opportunity.

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 quite a bit as a child. Starting out with simple books like Dr. Seuss, I gradually worked my way up to full length novels, mostly in the science fiction and fantasy genre since that’s mainly what my mother read. She read aloud to me as a child and helped ween me, so to speak, into my own reading. The last books read to me as a kid were Alan Dean Foster’s Pip and Flinx books. I never got into comic books. I don’t know why, it’s just something that never happened. I think the time that I would have been getting into comic books, mom had already opened up the world of novels, and I’ve always found what my imagination conjures more compelling than what’s already on the page.

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.

Certainly. The genre of science fiction and fantasy is probably most predominent in games and premises for games with those genre elements always pique my interest at least a little. Currenlty I play Lord of the Rings Online and the only reason I became involved in this game was because my love for the Lord of the Rings books, which I read in early high school.

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

My first introduction to video games was via friends and extended family. My cousin was really into Nintendo and I also ran across Nintendos at friend’s houses. I didn’t have one, however, which probably is the reason I came about gaming from a story and literary side rather than an entertainment medium side of things. I was probably 8 or 9 when I first encountered them and showed an interest. Eventually I got a gameboy as my first system, followed shortly afterwards by a Super Nintendo. I’ve incidentally always been one generation behind in the gaming platforms but PC took over, spurred by my cousin. When we would visit grandma’s house, there was little to do but play games. We started out with made up games, like many children do, but when he got into video games, I followed. The first that I can remember is Railroad Tycoon, an old DOS game. He got into it from his step brother who was a teenager at the time. We played that incessantly. Later it was StarCraft and from there I began getting into games on my own. Now PC rules my gaming universe. I haven’t bought any of the newest consoles, though the 360 still creeps up on the horizon from time to time.

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

I never got into arcades. Mainly because money was always tight. We weren’t poor per se, but the budget had little room for luxuries like arcades. My parents couldn’t justify me stuffing quarters into a machine for hours on end. And the concept was never really fun for me either. I much preferred the greater freedom of playing games at home. The more a game could let me use my imagination, the more I liked it.

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

I think I need to go back to Railroad Tycoon. My step cousin installed it onto my grandparent’s old (not at the time though) 486 machine in their basement and played it. Me and my cousin were entralled. My step cousin was a teenager at the time and had little tolerance for us little kids bothering him about the game so we taught ourselves how to play when he wasn’t monopolizing the computer. We played all day, talked about it into the night when our parents finally had to come down and tell us to shut up and go to sleep, then we got up early and played some more. Rinse repeat. We were hooked, and we dreamed about the game too. It was like we never stopped playing. I don’t get that hooked into games anymore. The newness that addicted us then is long gone, but I still have fun and I play games to this day because of that first wonderful impression.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

I have a Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and GameCube still in my posession. The GameBoy (orignal brick like thing) is long gone. Consoles aren’t my main focus anymore. I’ve invested quite a bit into the PC side of things.

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

I think the best one is the Railroad Tycoon story, but when me and my cousin hung out, but didn’t have access to a Nintendo or computer, we’d take blank peices of paper and write our own levels and have each other “play” them. At one point we experimented with creating a “real life” level with various objects, but that never worked out quite so well. Not enough materials for my limitless imagination.

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