Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Shawn (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 14, 2009

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Massively | Massively SpeakingOMG-RL!1! | Through the Aftermath

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?

Risk, Sorry, Monopoly, Life, Dark Tower. Those are the ones I remember playing with my parents the most. Risk was kind of a right of passage for my family during birthday parties. Once I was allowed to play with the adults, I felt I had become a man.

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

I always hated sports. My dad tried getting me into baseball and wrestling, since he was good at both when he was younger. But I just wasn’t competitive enough to care about winning. I was that kid standing in left field picking grass and looking at bugs.

I started playing drums on my mom’s tupperware when I was about 11, which evolved into drum lessons and an old kit I got at a garage sale when I was 14. Eventually I got into a metal band in high school and we had a nice little following for a while there: studio-produced album, t-shirts, paid concerts… the whole nine yards. Some of the greatest times of my life!

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

I played AD&D with my best friend and a few others when I was in 9th and 10th grade, but I was always afraid my friends in the metal band would find out and make fun of me, so I stopped. I was totally in nerd denial.

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 could read my first book at 3, and my parents loved to bring this up to as many people as they could, as many times as they could. I was fanatic about my GI Joe comics in the mid 80s. I still have them all, too. I never had the attention span to sit down read too many novels though, but my best friend was an avid reader and turned me on to some great stuff like R.A. Salvatore and all the Forgotten Realms books.

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.

Definitely. My best friend’s appreciation of the whole fantasy genre is what got me into it and we immersed ourselves into it with the music we listened to, the drawings we created, the movies we watched and most everything we did.

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

When I turned 10, my (rich) aunt and uncle bought me an Atari 2600. Back then, that was a huge deal because they were expensive, and there’s no way my parents or I could have ever bought that. I would sit and play games like River Raid, Space Jockey, Outlaw, Grand Prix, Vanguard and others religiously.

Not long after, my best friend’s dad got a Commodore 64 and he would let us watch him play Telengard. I was fascinated by it and I’d want to watch him play more than my friend actually would. I saved my allowance for a few months and got a used C64 from the newspaper. This was the fuel that fired my future obsession with RPGs, thanks to SSI’s Gold Box series when I was about 13.

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

There was one arcade near my house, and whenever my parents would drive me and my friend there, we’d spend hours and more quarters than I’d care to remember. Ironically, he met his current wife there, although back then she was just an icky girl and we were more concerned with getting the top score in Golden Axe.

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

Pool of Radiance. It was so amazing to me that I could make a party of adventurers to control against real AI monsters. I went full-force into the RPG genre from here, playing games like Wasteland, Knights of Legend, Bard’s Tale and a few others at every spare second I had.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

I was never much into consoles. I guess the Atari 2600 could be considered my first, then I had a Sega CD, an Xbox and now a Wii. That’s it.

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

In junior high, I would set my alarm for an hour early every morning so I could play games on my Commodore 64. For anyone who never owned a C64, most of that time was spent booting the darn thing up, but it was totally worth it.

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