Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

SmakenDahed (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 23, 2009

MMO community connection:

Random Ogre Thoughts

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?

I played a lot of games with my older brother and his friends, but also spent an equal time alone playing with various toys. I got into RPGs at a really young age (eight) and haven’t really looked back. When I didn’t have my nose in a book I was usually out getting into trouble with friends.

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

I got into martial arts around the same time I got into RPGs, the main reason was that my mother was going back to school to become a microbiologist and some of the evening courses where in seedy downtown neighborhoods. My dad tends to be an all or nothing type of guy so he signed the whole family up. I was a first degree black belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate at about 12 or so. Other styles I picked up were Shirynjiru Kenkokan Karatedo and Jiujitsu.

I spent a lot of time outside playing, exploring and getting into places I probably shouldn’t have been.

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

I was eight years old and it was a lot of fun. It was pretty simple, monty haul/hack and slash, but good fun. I’ve played a fair number of RPGs over the years, though my favorite has to be Shadowrun. I’m currently playing a P&P session with a group of guys every Wednesday night (I think it’s almost been 10 years if not close to 11 now).

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 comic books and novels. I was reading Tolkien at eight but was also reading a lot of Piers Anthony’s Xanth series. I usually read what ever my parents had around at the time. For comic books my favorites were X-Men, Spider-man, Ghost Rider and Rom the Spaceknight.

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. I always loved using my imagination and thought it would be great to be able to play these types of games on computers so I could play them when ever I wanted (as in, not needing to gather friends together and organize actual sessions). Eventually, I got into thinking of how great it would be to play these games online and quite some time ago I got talking with my brother-in-law about how cool it would be to have a massive, online virtual world to play in with all sorts of people from all over the world. It was funny, we started planning how it could be designed and he found Ultima Online was just released. It was a lot of what we thought would be cool (from reading the instructions) but we never bother playing it.

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

Atari, I think. My uncle had Pong, but I don’t really remember it. I can remember playing Space Invaders, Night Driver and Combat at my uncle’s place. I think I was 5 or 6 years old – I don’t really remember.

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

Definitely. There were tons of arcades where I was growing up, we had one place that was about five minutes walking around the corner from where we lived. I played all sorts of games there, half of them I can’t remember the name of. I also spent a lot of time just watching others play as well.

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

Wizardry I on the Apple 2 (actually, a clone called Golden 2). It used 5.25″ floppies and you had to swap disks for saving and stuff (my dad was a hero when he bought as second floppy drive!), but it was in 3d! Heh. I was about seven or eight and the damn ‘small humanoids’ picture scared me. Pretty silly thinking back to it.

I learned about farming there (thanks Dad!). We would farm the Murphy’s Ghost statue room for +1 magic weapons and stuff. He also showed me some minor exploits like creating a back up disk for characters, loading characters, giving all their gear to one other party member, renaming them, then transferring over the back up so you ended up with an infinite amount of gear to sell off. He also taught me about mapping and things like that.

I still remember a good number of spells. ‘di’ was the rez, ‘dios’ type words were for healing, ’tiltowait’ was the big nuke. It amazes me what I remember about older games. Oh, I still have coordinates memorized for the garrison room in the Castle in Bard’s Tale – the room with four groups of 99 Berserkers? I used to teleport up there with some hefty tanks in the first ranks, two sorcerers and fill the last slot with a character I wanted to level. I’d then just Mind Blade the four groups with the two sorcerers and by the end of the fight the 6th slot character would get a ton of levels. (From the entrance coords were 2 up, 5 north and 12 east – that’d put you at the door).

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Atari, Sega Genesis, Nintendo, Playstation, PS2, Wii, and PS3.

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

I remember playing D&D with my parents, it was only one session but I remember it like it was yesterday. The module was Palace of the Silver Princess and I was playing a Halfling (basic D&D the demihuman races were classes heh). We came across a long hall where there was a storeroom and a kitchen. My father listened at the door of the kitchen and heard what sounded like goblins making a bunch of noises. He made us all go back to the storeroom and roll some kegs of ale to the kitchen door, then knocked and hid back in the storeroom. After a couple of hours we checked on the room and could hear the goblins singing drunkenly in the kitchen. We open the door and attacked, taking advantage of their drunken state. It was a lot of fun.

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