Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Aaron (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 1, 2009

MMO community connection:

Anyway Games

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 first Nintendo was released when I was only five years old, so there wasn’t much before video games. But I did play a lot of boardgames, card games, and complete puzzles with my large extended family. I still all of those with family on the rare occasions we can get together.

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

I’ve always played music and started creating it when I was about thirteen. I’ve played piano, drums, and guitar. I’ve also played every American sport besides hockey and golf. I spent a lot of time in the woods and at the beach. And my family traveled a lot within the U.S. for recreation (landscapes, museums, etc). I did a lot as a kid.

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

My brother, cousin, I and few others played D&D for a couple years. It worked well since we all had vivid imaginations. It helped get us all interested in the fantasy genre of fiction.

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 read a lot. Our parents required that we read books every week or month as soon as we were able. All sorts of stuff. I read most around middle school, when my brother, cousin, and I began our fascination with fantasy books. I’m the only person I know whose childhood thieving phase involved stealing books! In high school, I read more classics, like Moby Dick and The Count of Monte Cristo as well as poetry. My dad was a geologist and had a number of scientific magazines I liked to read.

These days, most of my reading is philosophical, theological, and political articles online. For fantasy, my favorite series are The Death Gate Cycle, the Shannara series, and A Song of Ice and Fire (is it finished yet?). For spy novels, I prefer Frederick Forsyth. For ghosts and horror, I like short story collections like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s or one of Victorian and Eduardian Ghost Stories, and books by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. For poetry, romantics like Shakespeare, Robert Frost and William Wordsworth. For philosophy, Peter Kreeft, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and Pope Benedict XVI… people who honestly try to understand why those they disagree with might believe what they believe.

My cousin and I have talked about re-reading LOTR soon, now that we’re so intimately familiar with its geography through LOTR: Battle for Middle Earth 2’s War of the Ring mode. 🙂

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.

The fantasy books definitely peaked my interest in RPGs, as did poetry. Fantasy feeds the explorer’s hunger for new experiences and discovery. Poetry trains you to see things in a conceptual way and think beyond the surface of what you see. Together, I think they really helped to appreciate the development of characters and the construction of worlds.

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

As I’ve said, I was five when the NES came out, though I doubt my parents bought it until a year or two later… so maybe I was seven? Some of my favorite NES games were Excitebike, Master Blaster, Contra, and of course Mario. We had an Atari only briefly before that, but the only game I remember is Joust.

I also played some arcade games. And I played some DOS games like F-14 Tomcat, Bard’s Tale, and Descent. I have no idea how old I was at the time.

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

I was a big fan of Golden Axe, Super Off Road, and the first Star Wars game. My cousin and I used to take about 10 bucks a piece sometimes to a nearby Hilton hotel’s arcade room.

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

Mario Bros was the first game that sucked all my time. Not much to say about it, really. It was just fun.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

I owned the Atari console. I owned every Nintendo console until the Wii, and didn’t care much for the GameCube. Some favorites through the years were Donkey Kong Kountry, Killer Instinct, GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, and the Zelda games.

I only played a couple games on my friend’s Playstation, like Twisted Metal 2 and Resident Evil 2. The only game I remember keeping long for the original Xbox was Halo. Now I love my 360, aside from the reliability issue.

I’ve always been an avid PC gamer as well. Many of my favorite games have been on PC; including Diablo 2, Nuclear War, LOTR: Battle for Middle Earth 2, Deus Ex, and Neverwinter Nights.

I never owned a handheld, though I’m a big fan of the Simon game.

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

I enjoy single-player games most these days. I did as a child as well, but I did a lot more gaming with family back then. We spent hours competing at Street Fighter II, playing Bard’s Tale cooperatively, or taking turns at Nuclear War. I love my family, so I definitely miss being able to game with them. Few play games often anymore. The only one I still game with regularly is my cousin, in LOTR: BfME2.


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