Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Copra (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on July 9, 2009

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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?

When I was a child we had a month long summer holiday at a summer cottage of my grandfather’s which was out there in the middle of nowhere, by the sea. The cottage didn’t have any electricity, so the pass time in the evening was playing games. Cards, board games, word games, you name it. As amazing as it seems, this trait lived well beyond the summer vacation time and we played quite often at home, too. At later age I was introduced to computers and only after that I found pen and paper roleplaying, which is still my main reference point in my gaming.

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

I have been an avid reader the whole of my life, so reading and sports don’t mix too well: I have always been lousy at sports. However, I sang in a couple of choirs up till 16 years of age, at which time some other aspects of life started to play bigger part in my free time…

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

Like I mentioned earlier, I have been quite active in pen and paper RPG’s. In fact, I worked in a local game shop (the first one in Finland) for about 6 months, at which time I devoured a huge amount of lore and background from several games. The first game I ever played was Metagaming’s old and devoid “Into the Tunnels” (I think), but soon after that experience I bought D&D (the red box) and started to GM games to my younger brother and his friends. The group changed and evoved over the years, as well as the games chaged. But the love to this form of story telling hasn’t changed.

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 quite a lot: in fact, my parents remember me reading always as a kid. I didn’t have any favourite authors at that time, I just consumed literature. I read everything from historical stories to scifi, from agent stories to crime and mystery. Later, when I switched to English language literature (at the same time I dug deeper into the RPG material and learned to trust my language skills at around 15), I found the author who has since remained my favourite: Gene Wolfe. And of course H.P.Lovecraft, whose works cast a sizeable shadow over the RPG campaigns I devised…

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 so: my computer gaming has always been a search of the story and puzzles. Not to say that I would hate FPS’, but I just don’t see the point in them. Heretic II was one of the few FPS kind of games I’ve liked, but that comes from the strong story line.

The same goes now with WoW: the lore is deep and the quest lines –when applied to the game- picture the stories and the world very neatly. I think the stories and their presentation is a huge part of my enjoyment in the games.

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

I think I saw this one coming… I was introduced to videogames by a friend of mine when he got some of the first Atari consoles home back in late 70’s: I must have been less than 10 years then. My first computer was Commodore VIC-20 and it was quite something, at least for the time being and for as long as it WAS the homecomputer. Then came C-64 and Atari ST. I got VIC-20 when I was 14, and it’s been constant downhill ever since…

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

Of course: the first coin-op’s I played were the good old Space Invaders and sorts. And they completely blew my mind away: I must be somehow addictive and self-competitive personality, as I had to always improve my score. I didn’t care about the high score list, my own score was the only one I was comparing to.

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

For the fore mentioned reason it was a game called Radar Rat Race for VIC-20: totally addictive maze run in which I always had to beat my own score. The tune still haunts me…

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Not so much gaming consoles nor computers, since RPG’s took my time pretty completely during their time. We’ve had PS1, PS2 and that’s about it.

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

My addiction to the VIC-20 was such that I took the darn machine with us to all our travels and trips, even to holidays abroad for the next year or so. My biggest challenge with it was to find how to hook it up with the hotel tv and whether I needed an adapter for the electricity. And that done: I was at ease.


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