Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Spinks (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on April 7, 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?

We’ve always been playing games as a family. I remember playing card games like Whist and Rummy with my great aunts, I remember playing Monopoly with my cousins, I remember playing Scrabble with my friends and their parents. And I remember playing lots of board games and card games and lets’ pretend games with my sisters.

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

Piano, fencing, swimming, reading (lots of reading!)

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

lol yes, I’ve played, run and written a lot of pen and paper RPGs. I don’t remember the first but it may have been boxed set D&D which I played (kind of) with my sisters. We had an AD&D game going with cousins also.

Pen and Paper RPGs were big at the time.

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. Read lots of everything. I remember loving lots of authors and titles, anything I pick out would be arbitrary.

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.

Probably. I enjoyed escapist fiction and games, but I just got into games in general at an early age. And stayed there. A lot of my friends are gamers, we often bust out a card game or board game when we get together. I liked computers a lot anyway, the difference between programming and computer games didn’t come clear to me until later – I just thought they were both fun things to do with computers.

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

Don’t remember precisely. I know one of my friends had a ZX Spectrum. And a friend of my dad’s had a build-your-own computer (a Sharp I think) and he’d got some really really basic games for it which we adored. First computer we owned was a VIC-20, and I remember spending a fair amount of time typing games into it from computer magazines.

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

Not much.

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

I was blown away by Elite when I first saw a friend play it on her BBC B. It was also the first game I ever actually finished, some years later, when it came out on the Atari ST.
I loved the novella that came with it.
I loved flying my spaceship around, struggling to learn how to dock and being able to trade up to better ships and weapons when I’d earned enough money trading.
I loved that space was just so /big/. It was one of the most immersive games I’d ever played.
I also love that so many gamers and designers of my rough age pick it as one of their favourite ever games — it reassures me that we all have great taste 🙂

I also don’t remember which was the first roguelike game I played but like so many people, I was hooked immediately.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

gameboy, gameboy advance, DS, PS, PS2. I think that’s it.

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

OK, the epic tale of WHO KILLED BOB?!

This is not really from my childhood but from when I’d just moved into a flat with my sisters after leaving university. I had a dinky Apple computer which I’d gotten cheap from uni (I was a postgrad) and one of the few games I had that ran on it was Angband. Which is a roguelike.

So my sisters both liked the game too and we took turns playing it. And then … the terrible night when one of them logged on and … her character was gone *dire music*. We never did find out who killed Bob (if you’re reading this, I swear it wasn’t me!!), but I remember lying in bed and listening to her recite Bob’s entire gear list mournfully from her bedroom across the corrridor.


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