Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Sente (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 28, 2009

MMO community connection:

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?

Both board games, card games and other were on the menu. Monopoly, Mastermind, Othello, Chess, Bondespelet (The Farmer game), Cluedo, Risk were a few of the board games. Card games included Canasta, Tölp, Bluffstopp, Svälta Räv (do not know the English names, sorry) for example. It was always with family and friends, never alone.

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

I did dabble a bit in a few sports, including karate, sabre fencing, table tennis – but did not really stick with any for any longer times. Same thing with music; tried a few instruments like trumpet,, trombone, horn and balalaika, but never stuck with any for long. In the winter time we usually did some cross-country skiing, since we generally had some good tracks through the woods not far from where we lived.

Around when I was 12 years old I started to perform magic tricks, entertaining (or annoying) family and friends 🙂 That was something that got me hook, line and sinker – at least until those devious computers started to creep in too much 😉

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

I did play a few of those from time to time during a period of maybe 7-8 years. I was introduced to the concept though a D&D session by an older friend, but never really continued to play D&D or AD&D. Instead a number of other games like RuneQuest, Traveller, Bushido, Call of Cthulhu and Paranoia were the ones a group of friends and I played to various degrees.

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.

Yes, I read quite a bit – both books and comic books. For the comic books I read Bamse and Rasmus Nalle in the very early years, but also Tintin and Asterix – both of which I had a few books of before I could even read. My comic book experiences in the childhood years and into teens included mainly a number of Franco-Belgian comics; Tintin, Asterix, Lucky Luke, Spirou, Johan & Peewit, Steven Strong, The Smurfs, Blueberry and Valérian & Laureline. In particular Valérian & Laureline was my absolute favourite comic for a long time and I still have everything that was published in Sweden.

Outside that sphere I did read The Phantom and Modesty Blaise also.

In terms of books I read many detective/mystery books aimed at youths not long after I learned to read. A few years later I started to read some of the books my father had, who is interested in SciFi and Fantasy. That introduced me to JRR Tolkien and Isaac Asimov and and I got hooked on those genres. The local libraries had somewhat small sections of SciFi and Fantasy books and I read most of what I could find there. In fantasy I think besides Tolkien that Ursula le Guin, Bertil Mårtensson and C S Lewis might be the ones I remember most. For SciFi there were many authors, but early on I think Isaac Asimov, Brian Aldiss, Robert Silverberg, Robert Heinlein and Harry Harrison were among those most read.

In the late teens I started to read novels from British and American authors in English instead of the Swedish translation and has continued ever since – if possible I prefer to read it in the author’s native language.

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 do not think it affected appreciation of computer games in general, but perhaps to some extent the choices of games I would play – I knew which genres I liked.

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

The very first experience was probably some arcade game like Asteroids or Space Invaders, or possibly Pong (an uncle had bought some game console I think). I do not remember which was first or when that was. I never caught the gaming bug at that point.

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

That did happen and I think it was probably fairly fun. But it was never something that I spent a lot of time (or money) on.

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

I got my first home computer when I was 16, a VIC-20. This was 6-7 months after I had started to learn programming (Basic). Initially I learned Basic just reading books, but did not have any computer to actually type in the programs I created. After I got access to a computer at school I started to actually write programs for real. The VIC-20 I bought because it was affordable and had a real keyboard and my main intent was to have something of my own to write programs on. Games were not on my mind initially.

I did pick up some games for it after a while though; Attack of the Mutant Camels was the very first one. The one though that caused me to want to start write games though were Scott Adams’ Adventureland. That game had me hooked on adventure games and I started to write some adventure games of my own (not particularly good though).

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Playstation, PS2, XBox, PSP, PS3. Still own the last two.

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

Perhaps not so much a child experiences, since this started when I was 17: There was one game that was one of the first ones I got for the Commodore64 that stuck with me and a numberof my friends for many years – M.U.L.E. I think we probably played that at least semi-regularly for 12-13 years. It is such a brilliant game and works very well for a few friends getting together, since you can play 4 persons.


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