Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Riknas (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 29, 2009

MMO community connection:

Free Play Podcast

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?

Well, as a kid I don’t recall there being a lot out at the time, though I suppose there were more than when my peers in the podcasting field were my age. I played a lot of adventure games in my earliest years like Crash Bandicoot, Banjo Kazooie or Donkey Kong. At the time it was almost exclusively a solo activity, I never heard of co-op, and was still an only child. Friends were for the weak.

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

It’s kind of a shame in retrospect, I didn’t do a lot when I was a little kid (I assume we’re still talking about pre-adolescent childhood) other than running around aimlessly. I was content to play with my games or my little action figures. If I wasn’t doing that I was sitting there making up adventures for myself to be on, I guess I had a little Dungeon Master in me all along.

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

Only recently. I’ve been aware of them since I was ten or so, but only just started getting into them a couple months ago, and even then it’s not really pen and paper since I’m doing it over the internet. That said though I spent so much time thinking “Hah, that’s way too nerdy” until I came to the realization “Oh right. I’m a nerd,” and just let myself enjoy the ride of other people enjoying an adventure of my own.

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 didn’t read a lot when I was very young, however it became something of a habit when I entered middle school and the reading sickness has been getting worse ever since. For books I liked things ranging from light stories of heroics like the Dragon Lance Chronicles or Deltora Quest, to the stories of the surreal and horror fantasy (also known as “low fantasy” to some) like The Damnation Game by Clive Barker and Robert E. Howard’s Conan The Barbarian. In the more contemporary settings I liked stories of espionage and stories of great empires and large scale consequences like Tom Clancy’s books, especially NetForce.

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 wouldn’t say so, no. At least not until recently. Since I was interested in them around the same time I always saw them as two separate mediums and neither really “copied” each other (At least, I never thought so.) Furthermore the games I played were of specifically different genre type than the books I read. Or at least, the games I would play was more limited than the books I would read.

In books, I felt that since I was following a story, I could read about topics that may disturb or scare me. I had no control over what would happen, so nothing would be my fault, so I wasn’t (deeply) bothered by the horror fantasy I read and touchy topics like religion and the afterlife were being tackled for me, instead of making a statement on them myself.

Meanwhile, with video games, playing as the main character, I felt that it was very much my story, even if it was a rail shooter. I didn’t want things that involved the deaths of innocents horrific hitman or Grand Theft Auto, and I didn’t want to face things were it seemed over brutal or bleak like Doom or Resident Evil.

That said, they’re starting to converge more. Books have different genres, games have different genres. Computer games are their own thing, etc etc. They were simply separate. Admittedly, sometimes I’ll compare an MMO to an old game, but mainly to see how far MMOs have come along to being able to be like a single player or co-op game. “Hey look guys, collision detection!”

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

I believe the first game I played (Not counting for the educational computer games) was when I was 3 or four. A Kirby game for the Super Nintendo, though I can’t remember what it was called.

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

Yea, I played in arcades. I still try to visit the old arcade every few months. Though I usually fail. But when I didn’t have many games of my own I was fascinated by the arcade. It was my equivalent of being a kid in a candy shop, I was a kid in the arcade. Seeing so many different games and different people, all on their own adventures at each terminal, it was awe inspiring at the time.

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

Although I’d say every game has made some impression on me, that would feel like too much of a cop out. Ultimately I’d say the first game to truly affect me was the original Crash Bandicoot. It was a light hearted silly game at the core, but still appealed to my love for what I thought to be an epic adventure, fighting absurd and impossible odds to acquire crystals, supposedly of great power, all the while having a side quest line urging me to acquire special diamonds instead. It felt like being the middle man in a battle of two great powers, and I loved every minute of it.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

More than I should have no doubt. I’ve had a Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color (And advanced, and DS versions), a Play Station, a PS2, and PSP, Xbox, and Xbox 360 (Still waiting on their handhold.)

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

I feel obligated to put something here, but I struggle to come up with something as I feel like there’s so many stories that I’ve already gone through, as well as too many more to choose from still. However I’d have to say the best story to relay would be how fascinated I was when I first played KOTOR. Since I still hadn’t played D&D I didn’t really know what it was like to feel like you were in control of your own adventure, let alone make my own character and decide what to say to other people. It simply blew my mind that there could be such a thing as separate endings based on your own actions.


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