Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Hatch (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on April 14, 2009

MMO community connection:

Escape Hatch

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?

It’s hard to remember a time before video games in my life. I’m pretty sure that my dad let me mess with one of the joysticks for his Atari 2600 when I was still toddling. I do have fond memories of the tradition of playing Yahtzee whenever we visited Grandma’s for holidays, and sitting on my father’s lap while the grown-ups played Trivial Pursuit and answered questions about presidents and events that they remembered but happened long before I was born.

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

I played every sport for a season before deciding I didn’t like them. I was OK at sports, but I didn’t play well on teams. I eventually settled on karate, which melded better with my loner and self-improvement tendencies while having the added bonus of allowing me to kick things. Aside from that, I rode my bike around with my friends a LOT, read books, and drew pictures (this started out with tracing from magazines, and escalated into actual drawing in middle school). I also picked up guitar around the time I started getting interested in girls (coincidence?). I’ve basically dipped a bit into all of the arts, but don’t seem to be particularly talented at them.

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

I wear a radiation suit at all times, to prevent exposure to harmful tabletop RPG-waves.

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 actually laughed at this question, because I read so much that the idea of not reading much seems ludicrous. As a kid I read anything I could get my hands on from the library: I remember a lot of Choose Your Own Adventure books and horror series like Goosebumps and Fear High (I’m not a horror fan, but they appealed to my Sci-Fi and fantasy interests and were in ready supply). Also, discovering Spiderman comics was a revelation for me as a child. I got my hands on everything I could, especially the Jim Lee style early 90’s comics during my tweens. I also have quite a complete collection of early Nintendo Power issues.

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.

They did so mostly by nurturing my interest in Sci Fi and fantasy as well as my tendency to be a loner. I probably wouldn’t have been as “into” games as a child if they weren’t so much like books I could play (and an activity to do while I was alone).

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

My first introduction was my dad’s Atari. I most distinctly remember a Hide and Seek game which was made up of 5 or 6 screens representing a house and yard. One player would look away from the screen, the other would navigate the screens with their stick-figure avatar and choose a hiding place. Then the second player would search the house for them. In retrospect, my dad must have been bored to death by the simplicity even as my child-mind found it so riveting.

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

It was a rare treat to happen to be somewhere that had arcade machines (most often these were found at bowling alleys and roller rinks, two favorite sites for pre-teen birthday parties). Hands-down, the favorites were side-scrolling brawlers starring famous IPs. The TMNT, Simpsons, and X-Men arcade machines are still framed by a warm, loving glow in my mind’s eye. I would pay good money for these on PC or a console (are you listening, industry?)

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

Weirdly, I’d have to answer: River City Ransom. It was just so goofy and fun, and comically raised a simple high-school brawl into a sprawling epic of hitting guys with chains until they say “BARF!” And the character design was so simple, and yet the art looked great for it’s era and had real personality. It changed my idea of what video games can do. I know now that those ideas are common to anime and not terribly original, but it was my first exposure to it.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

All Nintendo consoles except Virtua Boy (including a release week game boy, another original game boy, a GB color, and a DS). Playstation and Atari. Some of my most extensive gaming was done on PS2, but I never owned one (first my roomate had one, and then my girlfriend, so I never needed to buy one of my own). I’d also say over half of my adult gaming has been on the PC (and that’s NOT counting WoW!)

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