Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Patrick (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 30, 2009

MMO community connection:

How I WoW | Frenchspin

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?

The usual: Star Wars action figures, Legos, etc. I would always play with my brother (2 years younger) and cousin (3 weeks older). So definitely not a solo activity.

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

I did a bit of martial arts when I was younger, played basketball for a while.  I wasn’t very athletic though. My amazing physical traits just come naturally. 🙂

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

Dude, D&D FTW!! I started playing when I was about 10 or 11, and even though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was an amazingly enriching experience. Exercising your imagination like that was a blessing. I was lucky enough that my parents never payed any attention to the D&D controversies bullcrap we had back then. Same goes for video games by the way.
By the time I turned 17 or 18 we started playing with a still dear friend of mine who created his own games from scratch. We never went back to rulebooks or pre-written games after that, and today I see them as sort of limiting. Why not just invent your story completely? Rules are very secondary in my opinion: just set a few characteristics and roll a dice when you want to decide something random. That’s all you need. I have to admit though, it doesn’t hurt that the game master in question is an accomplished writer; his stories are pretty compelling.
Anyway, all that is a bit behind me now. I’ve been on and off the “team” for a few years and I don’t really like it as much as I used to.

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 as a child, and still don’t. It’s one of the things I’m not proud of. I see it as a shortcoming of sorts.
Well, I did read a lot of comic books, but I’m not one of those people who consider reading comics is “reading”. When most people ask that question they are asking about books, not the three bubble where Wolverine grunts because he’s being broody. I also read a ton of Choose Your Own Adventure books and loved it. But again, although that was real reading, what I enjoyed was the interactive nature of it. Almost like video games in paper form.
That being said, my favorite book is probably The Picture of Dorian Gray. Not so much for the storytelling, but for the incredible mastery Oscar Wilde has of the English language.
Close seconds are Cyrano de Bergerac and The Count of Monte Cristo. The first one owes a lot to the language too so I’m not sure how well it would translate in English, but the second one is just pure adventure, an amazing blockbuster from 150 years ago.

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.

Hmm… Hard to say. I guess that things like Lord of the Rings or Dragonlance shaped my tastes like it did every other nerd on the planet. I remember I couldn’t stop reading Dragonlance while walking from the kitchen.
But I wouldn’t say they had an effect on later appreciation of computer gaming or MMOs, because I almost see these as a continuation of the same culture. That culture had several branches that were complementary and moved at the same pace in different media. Fantasy and Science fiction are the two legs geek culture stands on today, and they were pervasive: from books to PnP RPGs to video games, to movies even… They all bled into one another, and in that sense I don’t think you can say one came before the other for me. It’s all one giant cultural wave that we’ve been riding for 20 or 30 years, I don’t make a difference between its parts, so I can’t say one had an influence on the other.

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

Arcade games came first, when I was about 10 I guess. My dad used to work in a company that imported arcade cabinets from Japan. I used to go to “the office” and play for free for hours. And hours. And hours.

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

I guess I already answered that, but I can add that I used to do it in regular arcades too when I got a bit older. French arcades mostly sucked, but I still would go to check out the latest version of street fighter and the like.
More recently, in the early 2000s, I used to love the japanese arcades. All nice and well lit, I would spend a couple of hours there, chatting with friends, drinking ice tea and going for a few battles against people I could never beat, like, ever. Ah, good times…

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

I have a horrible memory, but it was probably a coleco vision at my cousin’s. It was an awesome toy I guess, but I don’t think I saw the potential at the time. I was young…

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Haha, you want a list? How about all of them!
Well, maybe not all, but I seriously had most of them. Ok, let’s try the list thing:
Atari 2600
Super NES
Megadrive + SegaCD
Nec TurboGrafix + CD thing.
Gameboy Advanced
Xbox 360
I might be forgetting a couple.
And that doesn’t include the computers (Amstrad, Amiga…)

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

Not sure I was still a child, but I bought an import version of Street Fighter 2 for Super NES, which I paid 3 times the price of a normal game. That whole summer, my friends and I spent five or six nights a week crammed into my very small room, playing the game for 6 or 7 hours straight. Again: ah, good times…


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