As with many things, I can thank my dad for the countless hours I’ve lost to games. The 386 (soon upgraded to a 486DX–that’s right, math co-processor) PC that invaded our home in the early 90s was certainly intended for my education and technical enrichment, but it was much more fun to sit beside my dad for a gaming session.
I can’t recall all the titles–I was very young–but I have flashes of watching him gun down the Nazis of Wolfenstein 3D, blast demons in Doom, and slash and spellcast his way through the dungeons of Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos. The Legend of Kyrandia, Quest for Glory, King’s Quest, Space Quest–so many quests–were how we bonded, much as your traditional father-and-son duo might go to a baseball game or throw a football back and forth (OK, so we did do the latter).
I can dimly remember the original Duke Nukem, and before that, the all-but-unknown yet brilliant Obliterator–as a young lad I couldn’t voice more than “Oblit” when trying to goad my dad into a play session.
As I grew older (but never grew up), I immersed myself in Command & Conquer, Diablo, and the lesser-known but fantastic Exile and Avernum series.
I could just name game franchises for another few pages, but that’s hardly the point. What I’m getting at is that gaming was the backdrop of my coming of age, and coming from a practically broke family, the few titles I could afford got played into the ground. I played for entertainment, for distraction from the difficulties of life, but I also played to explore the concept of play itself. Game mechanics, character and story design, and what made the greats so damn great–that was what I really played to experience.
Many of my early forays into writing were pretty much derivatives of the stories I’d lived through pixels and polygons, and in turn the stories I wrote begged, at least to me, to evolve into games, to permit me and others to participate in and interact with them.
Life and its necessities (read: bills) led me down the safe path of the day job and the night classes, but I could never shake the pressing desire to create worlds and wonders like those I’d experienced beyond the glow of a computer screen. I kept up the occasional short story writing, but the hunger to create games–stories not for audiences but for participants–remained unsated.
Eventually I was forced to do something about that.