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Gabe Hawkins
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I thought it might be interesting to talk about how we all got started gaming and how we've evolved alongside the hobby over the years.

How were you introduced to video games? How long have you been playing? Have your tastes changed over the years? Are you playing any of the same games today?
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p55carroll
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I guess I was introduced to video games when some of the first arcade games started appearing in bowling alleys, bars, and other places, around the mid to late 1970s. To me, it was a novel alternative to pinball, and I had never liked pinball much, so these video games got more of my attention. By 1981 video arcades had sprung up, and I had a friend and coworker who liked to go there and play Missile Command. So I went with her and dabbled at various games. The only one I really fell for was Red Baron (1980/Arcade).

My friend moved away, and I wasn't interested enough to go to arcades on my own, so I'd have separated myself completely from video games if my mom hadn't sent me an Intellivision as a present in 1984. Since I had the gadget, I played the few games I had for it, including Space Battle. But a couple years later I moved, and I don't know what ever happened to the console; I must have left it behind, as it hadn't gotten much use anyway.

I had a little chess computer, but it was slow, and I wasn't any good at chess, so that wasn't such a big deal for me either.

In 1988, I'd been married for a year, and my wife (who's much more of a geek than I am) wanted a home PC system. I resisted a little, as the thing seemed expensive and mostly useless to me, but I gave in. And once we had the system in our house, I looked for something to do with it. Eventually I bought The Chessmaster 2100, The Many Faces of Go, and Pool of Radiance. The latter really taxed our system; the game took at least ten or fifteen minutes to load, IIRC. Nevertheless, my wife and I rolled up three characters each and played side by side.

After that, I bought and played a number of PC games, mostly strategy games. I'd been playing board wargames for years, so Panzer General and the like were right up my alley. I also got into Red Baron (1990), hoping it'd be as good as the arcade version. It was, and I played the heck out of it. I still own a copy today, but I no longer have a controller or flight stick, so it's too awkward to play.

One of the early PC games I bought was Civilization. Since then I've played Civ I through V (IV is my favorite, though I suck at it). I also got into the spin-offs Master of Orion and Master of Magic; I still own both, and I play MoO quite often, but MoM has been superseded, for me, by Age of Wonders (just because the latter is cleaner, less buggy, and more modern).

Thanks to GOG and its games packaged with emulators, I've tried a number of old games I missed and revisited a few I played long ago. The ClassicReload site is good for that too. But usually the very old games feel too clunky. So, with a few exceptions, I stick to games no older than the turn of the century.

For me, video gaming is just another form of strategy gaming. I'm into it mainly because it's much more convenient and satisfying for solo play. If I were playing with other people, or if I weren't so spoiled by electronic gadgetry, I'd be just as happy to still be playing board wargames instead.
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Simon Lundström
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My first introduction to video games must have been when I was like 6 years old, when my grandmother gave me a few cents to play Sprint in a cafe down below. Must have been in like 1979 or something.

My video game memory after that must have been when I was about 10 ,in 1983, when a friend of mine had a Colecovision. I was late with getting my own machine, but I did play with pals as soon as I could around then. I got my own machine when I was 15. So I don't know how you would define "have been playing". Since 1983 or 1988, depending. Since 1988, serious gaming but with several pauses.

My tastes have changed immensely since. After my first blank, when I came to 16-bit machines, I was set on RPGs. Since then, I like games with a narrative, and that hasn't changed. With the switch to generation 5 (Playstation/Saturn), there came a surge for racing games, and I played Gran Turismo tons, and mixed that with RPGs. After the second blank (after PS2), I was much more hesitating. Racing games and long RPGs didn't do it, and what I fell for was short, mystical, games with a spooky atmosphere. Limbo was what threw me into video gaming again. I've played much, seen much, and I know what kind of things deliver joy and which ones are dead ends that in the long run don't give me anything, so now I'm not much for longer games. With some notable exceptions, I've grown to like 10-hours of condensated atmosphere. Limbo, Inside, Unravel. Metroidvanias.

However, these last weeks, I've sensed a new blank coming on – I find I don't want to play video games when alone. I play it only in company or if I can't find anything else to do. The role playing creative nerve is itching, and I find it more interesting to write on an RPG, not to have it done, but for the mental joy of trying to invent something.
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I played odds and ends as a kid in the 70s and 80s. Nim, Star Trek and Dungeon/Zork on my Dad's work Vax/PDP-11. Galaxian on the school TRS-80 and Crossfire on the Apple IIe. Occasional arcade games like Zaxxon, Asteroids, some old B&W racing game. I had a Microbee and an Acorn Electron, played a bit of Emu Joust, Lemmings. Mostly I programmed (wrote my own games) and played D&D. I also programmed some games on my Dad's HP calculator (Asteroids and Goblins and Gold).

Fast forward to 2012 when 47 year old me decided to get my kids and me a used Wii. Got heavy into The Legend of Zelda and Metroid Prime, Xenoblade Chronicles, Tomb Raider Anniversary, Prince of Persia Forgotten Sands Wii, Okami. Then a PS3, a Wii U, a PS4...

Still like adventure and racing and puzzle games the most.
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Alan Monroe
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ghostpants wrote:
How were you introduced to video games? How long have you been playing?.


My uncle's home version of Pong on a black & white TV.

ghostpants wrote:
Have your tastes changed over the years? Are you playing any of the same games today?


I dust off the old 2600 a couple times a decade. But mainly I do pinball, turn-based RPGs, puzzle games, and a few particular FPSs on PC.
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Kevin Brown
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Nice to see plenty of old folks here!
Wumpus and Hammurabi via accoutical modem and teletype to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory very early 70s. Pong, stand up arcade early 70s home version (from Sears I think) mid 70s, Atari 2600 after that, Atari 400 and then 800 after that.

My mom was big into technology and thought it was important for her kids to at least grok it. So as kids we were always early adopters.

Yah. My mom rocked. Also encouraged comic books because she said "reading is reading" and if comic books would get her kids to read she was all for it.
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Jennifer Hanses
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How were you introduced to video games?

Depends on what you call a video game. Arcade cabinets are usually counted, so at the bowling alley. My parents are competitive bowlers to this day. They couldn't always get someone to watch me in the evenings as a kid. Some nights I got taken along with them and they'd give me quarters to keep me entertained. I largely played Pacman and pinball. My Caterpillar game isn't too bad either. (Between this and my parents playing softball and hockey and being dragged to yet more games I didn't want to watch, I blame them for my utter loathing of most sports. It was boring. So, so boring. I also have a severe allergy to smoke and breathing problems.)

But if you don't count arcade cabinets, then probably school. In 4th grade they had us playing Number Munchers, Carmen Sandiego, and Oregon Trail during class time. I remember it was a big deal when we finally as a class playing Oregon Trail in rounds made it to the river and floated to victory. Group effort. Everyone had to stop what they were doing and come watch.

There is a possibility that I also learned from being taken with my parents when visiting and needing to socialize with other kids I didn't know who had Nintendo's Mario Bros. games or similar. I remember the Noid game too. But I'm reluctant to say that was the beginning because those were one off events and I'm not sure where they fall chronologically in my life. Arcades and school were constants and had more influence.

How long have you been playing?

If I count the arcade games, then since I could stand on my dad's shoes to press buttons. So, like 4 years old?

I usually say about 10 since that corresponds better with school and voluntarily seeking games out rather than needing them to distract from staring at walls.

Have your tastes changed over the years?

Um ... only slightly.

I generally still like things with an educational slant. I prefer RPGs if I can get them. Or point and click adventures. The story is always the most important part. I think I'm pretty much the same. I'll play games like Pacman and Tetris, but that style of casual game isn't what keeps me going.

Are you playing any of the same games today?

Yes. I had Oregon Trail on my phone, and part of my love for The Banner Saga is that it combined Oregon Trail with RPGs.

I still play King's Quest and Quest for Glory and Afterlife using old disks. I looked up Super Solvers: Ancient Empires and found a free version online. Have to find version of Carmen Sandiego I can play again. I recently bought Betrayal in Antara and Betrayal at Krondor from Steam.

I'm still brilliant at Tetris. I've gone through about 3 different Pacman clones.

I will always replay old games the way I also reread old books.
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Ryan Ahr
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I said this in another thread: I've been gaming as long as I can remember. My dad was an arcade rat back in the day, and bought the family an NES. Pretty sure I was holding an NES paddle before I could walk. It's simply always been a part of my life. Oh, and a couple of the baby sitters my parents left me with growing up (wasn't a common occurrence, but obviously they needed their alone time) also almost always were big gamers and let me mess around on their consoles. That's how I gained a deep affection for the Mega Man and Legend of Zelda franchises.
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The first video game I remember playing was Rise of Nations and Nanosaur. Some of you might be familiar with the second already from the Hangman thread. I remember how bad I was, it's horrifying . My taste has changed A LOT since then. I mostly play FPS and MMORPGs now with a sprinkle of F1 and maybe Rocket League.
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How were you introduced to video games?

I was four years old and had made some friends at school. One of them had an NES and we played Rush'n Attack, Metroid, and Super Mario Bros..

I'm fairly sure that Rush'n Attack was the first videogame I ever played. laughlaugh

Still love that pun.

The arcade game I have very early memories of is Twin Eagle, but that didn't come out until a year or so later.

How long have you been playing?

32 years.

Have your tastes changed over the years?

Recently? Not really. Over three decades? Sure.

I've liked RPGs since the original Dragon Quest (and even Faxanadu). I suppose the bar is high these days but the genre has never fallen out of favor with me.

Like everyone else, I loved platformers when I was young, and while I'll still play a Mario game here and there, it's a minor niche for me as an adult.

Stealth games didn't really exist when I was young. I missed the Metal Gear Solid craze when it was new, and liked the idea of Thief: The Dark Project without really getting into it. I suppose partly through System Shock 2 in the early 2000s, and then later through games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Dishonored I became a full-blown stealth fanatic. Went back and discovered earlier genre classics like Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. So that's a more recent development.

Super Metroid became one of my favorite games in the late 90s (I liked it when it was brand new but grew to like it more and more). Since then, I've always loved a good Metroidvania.

I enjoyed Myst during its mainstream craze - it took a while for me to recognize that sort of adventure genre as it's own fully-realized thing, but I like those games a lot (even if there is a lot of junk to sort through to find a good one).

I did not have a taste for survival games with highly constrained resources when I was younger. I'm not totally sure when that happened. Resident Evil 4 and System Shock 2 were a big part of it.

Visual novels (often hybrids with point-and-click adventures) were not on my radar at all until 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi.

"Tough but fair" was not a phrase that would have meant anything to me prior to the arrival of Demon's Souls, although the Souls games feel so apart from other genres.

Tactical/squad games were not on my radar in prior to the late 2000s. That's when I rediscovered Final Fantasy Tactics and, a couple of years later, fell in love with XCOM: Enemy Unknown

So, my tastes have expanded. It's harder to think of areas where they have contracted. Like everyone else, I thought First-Person Shooters were vital and important in the days of Quake, GoldenEye 007, and HλLF-LIFE. I haven't thought of them that way in a long, long time. I guess the same could be said of Real-Time Strategy games, a romance that began with Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and basically ended with Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings.

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Geoffrey Burrell
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I got hooked on video games by my uncle who gave us his Intellivision and the rest is history.
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I'm older, so I remember when my cousin got an Atari and Pac-Man was all the rage. I had to watch and rarely got a chance to play until a year later when we got our own Atari system for Christmas. PacMan was all right, but I was into Space Invaders, and later couldn't get enough of Pitfall!.
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Drew McClain
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I'm 35, so some of my earliest memories are of Intellivision and 2600 games. I have fuzzy memories of BurgerTime and Pitfall!, signified by a framed arcade marquee of BurgerTime that I will put on my wall when we finish unpacking.

Fast forwarding to my more cogent years, NES was the first console I really cut my teeth into. It was an era that still borrowed fairly heavily on the arcade games of the time, so a lot of games were too difficult for a young child, and accordingly I never got very invested in playing and usually preferred reading, watching television, and riding my bike. I do have some fond memories playing Caveman Games with my neighbors, and I fell in love with lightguns starting with Duck Hunt and Hogan's Alley. (I have a Hogan's Alley Vs. arcade foldout to signify that one.) I think the first NES game I beat was Kirby's Adventure, which came out after the next and significant console that would shape my gaming life...

Probably the first game I beat was Super Mario World, on SNES, when I was perhaps 9 or so. 72-exits and everything; it was the first game I was really obsessed with. Kirby came a little later, but even by then I wasn't yet enamored with video games. That would come on a fateful day in the summer after the 5th grade, in 1995. I went over to a friend's house, and he showed me Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals and Final Fantasy III (or VI, as I would later realize). I enjoyed my first minutes with the games so much that I immediately went down to a local video rental shop and traded Turtles in Time for Final Fantasy VI. Things were never the same afterwards.

It was a wonderful time to get into RPGs, as year after year the genre expanded and classic after classic was released. Within just a few years, I played Chrono Trigger, EarthBound, and Super Mario RPG, and started getting into more action heavy games like A Link to the Past and Illusion of Gaia. The trap was set, and it caught me.

After growing up with Nintendo, N64 was naturally my next choice of consoles, and Mario 64 was an amazing intro to 3D gameplay. Still, the console had a real dearth of RPGs, so when it was announced that Final Fantasy VII would come out for PlayStation, my Christmas wish became clear. I ended up buying the game before I had the console, so with no memory card I played the beginning of the game over and over on my brother's PS1. PS1 was significant, because it was the first time I set my sights beyond Nintendo. It would have been easy to simply transition to Sony consoles, but when I was about 14 a friend offered me his used Saturn and games for $100, so I took him up on it. Among those games was NiGHTS, and I later bought Shining Force III and Panzer Dragoon Saga, and then finally the message was received that the consoles weren't what was important, it was the games. And there were so many wonderful games on nearly every console!

Also, during the PS1 era is when I first found Point Blank, which moreso than the NES games explains why I love lightgun games so much.

Only three significant developments happened thereafter, all around the same time. When I was about 19 or 20, three things happened in about the same year or two:

- My then girlfriend (now wife) and I went to Coney Island, where I discovered Dance Dance Revolution. I played for over an hour and when I got back home immediately went to buy a home version to annoy the hell out of my downstairs neighbors. I'd played and loved PaRappa the Rapper and Bust a Groove before then, but DDR was the series that not only taught me about how deep rhythm games were, but also taught me about the world of Japanese games that never made it stateside. Further, the investments in controllers to play rhythm games is really what got me into my controller collection, which would become probably my defining obsession for a decade to come.
- After Saturn, obviously I got a Dreamcast on day 1 (9/9/99, baby!). On the Dreamcast forums on GameFAQs, in 2003 or so, there was a particular topic with hundreds of posts all about a single genre: Shoot 'em ups. I wondered how the hell such a simple genre could garner so much discussion. Little did I realize how deep a genre it was. Thanks to the discussions on the thread, I tried out Ikaruga and DoDonPachi and fell in love, and another video game obsession was born. Interestingly, and somewhat elucidating, after over 8000 posts, that thread still exists. It really is an enduring genre.
- Finally, after playing and loving Final Fantasy X, I naturally was going to play the next Final Fantasy game, which so happened to be Final Fantasy XI. An MMO? Why not, could be fun. Here I am, still playing it, 16 years later...
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Sam K
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I was introduced to gaming when I was about 2. I played with Kid Pix (an art program) with my mom and my dad had Gorilla set up to start playing against itself for me when I typed SAM into one of the computers (neither of these were in the database so I couldn't link them ).

For the 28 years since I was first introduced, I've been playing a wide assortment of games on a variety of platforms.

My tastes tend to go through phases of varying duration (usually a few months to a few years), so my top game today may not be something I want to play next week but I might come back to it in a year or two or if somebody wants to play it with me. These days I've broken Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005) out again with one of the kids who is enjoying playing as the clone army and shooting the droids. I'm likely to break out some Civilization and The Battle for Wesnoth when I get my computing situation back on track in the next few weeks.
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p55carroll
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WalkingDeadMann wrote:
I was introduced to gaming when I was about 2.

So was I. But my early games were Cootie and Tickle Bee--and the latter was brand-new at the time.
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Jeff G
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I first played an Odyssey when I was tiny. It was amazing for the early 70s.
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Simon Lundström
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krux wrote:
[stuff]


Very interesting story. Thanks for that one!
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Evan Hill
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We had an Intellivision and my grandparents had a 2600 (or was it our?) I was very young and it was in the early and mid 80's. AD&D Treasures of Tarmin, Nightstalker, Triple Action.
The first big game I remember and it had a lasting impact was Dungeon Master. My dad had just bought and Atari ST, and every Sunday after church my brother and sister and I would gather around his computer to watch him play Dungeon Master. It was scary, intense and had character and world progression. It was awesome and something we did for months.

Through the years we had Lnyx's, then I got a Genesis late in its life. My big one was the PS1 I got around my 17th birthday. Still my favorite system.

I went through my first person shooter phase with N64's Golden Eye and Xbox's first Halo. I went through my Strategy phase with a lot of strategy games for the computer.

Its all come full circle and I now mostly play Dungeon Crawlers and old CRPG's. I collect them too, and have built a sizable console collection of Playstation Dungeon Crawlers. I love the atmosphere, difficulty and exploration.
Still big into co op multi player games too.
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Caroline Berg
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By my mom and my uncles, and from pretty much the age of 8 onwards.

And my mom has always been a PC gamer - so we never lacked games in our house, though most were DOS games like Castles II: Siege & Conquest. She was the one who got me Treasures of the Savage Frontier and The Four Crystals of Trazere though she didn't play those with me. We did play through Myst and Riven: The Sequel to Myst together, as well as a number of other adventure games - those were her favorite genre! My mom and I still play the same games, though we're pretty far apart so we don't play together in person anymore, and we exchange hints as needed.

One uncle donated his old Intellivision II to us growing up (once he get a more modern gaming set-up at the time - the Super NES, so I spent many an hour playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Cloudy Mountain, BurgerTime, Shark! Shark!, Pitfall! and the like.

My dad was always more of a board gamer than a video gamer. We still play board games with him several times a year.
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Darren Martin
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I was first introduced to video games when I saw Space Invaders in an arcade in the early 80's, but my first home experience was when I received a Spectrum 128K (original model, not a +2) for Christmas in 86.

In the early days, I mostly played shoot 'em ups and platformers, as those were the kind of games 8 bit machines seemed to do well with. It was only when I played Buck Rogers and Phantasy Star 3 on the Mega Drive that I played an rpg, and those have been my favourite type of games since.

As I have become older (and have less time) I find myself drawn to games with an engaging story, rather than an opportunity to kill things. The Mass Effect trilogy has probably been my greatest gaming experience, even if I had to put the difficulty down to easy for parts 2 and 3. I no longer want the challenge of defeating a difficult level or enemy, the challenge of a difficult decision now seems more entertaining to me - which is why I really need to find time for The Witcher series.

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♬ Stephanie ♩♪♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♪♫♪
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I got started when my cousin got a NES (I think that came before us getting a computer anyway). I'd say I was 7, but that's the default age I use for everything I can't precisely remember. So, that's gotta be around 26 or so years ago.

Have my tastes changed? I don't think so. It might've been a while before I first picked up and RPG, but I was immediately smitten with them. I don't really play beat em ups or side scrollers anymore, but that was just dependent on what I had access to at the time. I occasionally will still play a platformer.

Not the same ones I played when I was 7, but some from the 90's - I've been speedrunning FFT and went back to finish FFVII. I was a teen when I was introduced to those. I'd probably also play Secret of Mana again if I could find my controllers, which I'd played when I was probably about 10 if I were to guess.

Actually, I also remember my dad used to take me to a frozen yogurt shop that had a couple arcade games (frogger/pac-man), so that might've been even sooner.
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