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The collapse of Western Society (AKA How The H#!! Did I Become A Gamer???)

Posted: Tue, Jan 29 2013 at 07:00pm
Azaiatavin Blog

Well... for those who know me, it should come as no surprise my first foray into gaming came not with joysticks and  repeated (and occasionally successful) attempted muggings of parents for quarters, but with pen, paper, and funny looking dice.

Yes, I am a D&D nerd.

My first exposure into this new form of game was courtesy of a random score at a thrift shop. A box that claimed it was a game, but without a game board and multicolored pieces, but rather rule books, sheets of paper, and the previously mentioned funny looking dice. What caused me to spend the dollar for the box of game-that-was-not-a-game however, was the cover art. Warriors dressed in strange armor, wielding massive weapons, a sorcerer, holding a staff aloft, sending a bold of lightning forth, into a hoard of goblins. So many goblins. At least, that was what I believed those... things... were if the title was to be believed. 

I pored over the materials  until I believed I had a grasp of how this game was to be played. A shame I never got a chance to find players for that game. That was right about the time when those news stories started to come out about tabletop gamers killing each other for imagined loot, college larpers getting lost in some unused steam tunnels, only to be found dead some time later... you get the idea. 

This awesome new game that would allow me to recreate my favorite fantasy characters and for a few hours a week actually BE them was demonized to the extent that, even in elementary school I understood that I would never be able to play this game while the stigma existed.


My first console was, of course, an Atari, followed by an NES, a Geneesis (with the Sega CD and 32X attachments) and several others of lesser infamy. OK, not really MINE. I have sisters, so naturally, we all had to share. My first electronic RPG was an NES title called Crysalis. I loved the fact that you can upgrade the weapon, and that as you got stronger, so did the enemies. Funny thing, though: I only actually completed that game some years later on the GBC  port.

It wasn't until high school, when a friend, who played D&D and realized my interest, showed me some games made by a company called SSI that I made my first jump from pen and paper to keyboard and mouse. Oh, don't get me wrong, we still played good old pen and paper RPGs (these same high school friends also introduced me to other tabletop genres) but by having the battles played out on a computer screen, even in 8 bit (good old D&D Gold Box games, how  I still miss them to this day) and later, as a dungeon crawl (the Eye of the Beholder trilogy is still my top computer game series of all time) forever hooked me.

But, there was another game that my friend had a copy of that he showed me that really wowed me. It was distributed using a new sales model called "shareware" (that I later started calling electronic pushing...as in, similar to the guy on the corner offering you a strange smelling cigarette for free, knowing that if you take that first taste he probably had just made a customer for life) that only had a single word for a name: DOOM. 

when we weren't off in some fantasy world slaying orcs, we were at another friend's whose parents were techies, playing multiplayer DOOM. 

So, of course, when I heard about Halo, as soon as I could, I got an Xbox and got both Halo 1 and 2. The story was amazing! The gameplay, a huge leap forward from DOOM, grabbed me and has not yet let go. It was the closest I came to combining my two favorite genres: shooters and RPGs... until I found out about The Elder Scrolls. Then Mass Effect. 

Needless to say, a majority of my library is either shooter, RPG,  or a combination of both.

But, if given a choice, I still have my dice collection on standby, always prepared for a showdown with a dragon.

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