Thursday, 29 March 2018

Defining Moments For Me In The Gaming Hobby Part One

I thought I might give a meme another go. For a while now I have been thinking about what influenced me to be the gamer I am today. There have been a huge amount of influences over the years and I have been working out what they were. So I guess this is where I start. Well I wrote a list and figured that it was a massive piece of work so I decided  to split it into two. This part is really about my childhood. I will do a post about adult life next.

It starts with my first day at school. At nursery school I had played with some Britains toy soldiers but they hadn't really stuck with me. One of the kids in my class had brought his brothers painted Airfix Romans with him. I remember them looking really good to my five year old eyes and losing one of them down a crack in a step as we threw stones at them to knock them down. As I recall he got into a world of trouble. This is really where it all started for me.
As I got a little older I moved into  buying them myself. Mostly in the form of WW2 HO/OO figures. Over time I moved onto the 1/32nd scale stuff. I ended up with huge numbers of these. I suspect the owner of the house I grew up in is still finding them in the garden. If there is one thing that still makes me think back to my early childhood it is the box of British Paratroopers. About the only 28mm modern figures I have painted have been paras.
My later childhood was dominiated and I mean dominated by one thing alone. Star Wars. It was all I had heard about for months and it was all I ever dreamed of. Playing with the toys is a guess where I learned about narrative. There were heroes and villains and sometimes the villains were in black and white. I has been a constant in my life, I see relics of my life with this film every day.

Tunnels and Trolls was the first role-playing game I bought and I have mentioned my love of it before. I got my dad to go to Game in Liverpool which I am always grateful for. It's tongue in cheek approach still impacts what I do as a GM today. As rulebooks go, it is perhaps the one I have read the most. You just have to look at it to see how loved this book once was. It was the solo gamebooks from T&T that created the Fighting Fantasy surge of the mid eighties which was also a lot of fun.

Reading the T&T books got me into playing the games but it was seeing the citadel miniatures fantasy figures that really sold me on the who hobby. The first figures I ordered from GW had a leaflet with them. This leaflet was so well read that the paper just wore away at the folds.

The next load of GW figures I ordered came with a catalogue. This to got read and re-read. As well as all the lists of figures and pictures it had the first painting guide I had read along with types for customising figures. For me this represents a golden age of figures. It is the figures from this book that still have the biggest pul for me.

One holiday I found a shop that sold so roleplaying books so I brought the original D&D basic set. I spent the rest of the holiday creating characters and running them through The Keep On The Borderlands. Back then I kind of loved the game then but I have had a real falling out with it since. D&D, whilst it has improved, has become about selling the next book and the next, each in turn allowing the creation of stronger characters which create an unpleasant kind of arms race. What D&D did do for me was give me Imagine Magazine. This really was one of the best RPG magazines of all time and I still refer to it even now.

As part of what I was doing I kept buying wargaming magazines as that was all that was really available. As a christmas present I got some 15mm figures and I especially fell in love with the Navwar ECW. This started a love affair with not only the period but reading about the periods I love. The first Osprey books I got were about this period and I would borrow books from the library to.

In the months after that I purchased the Traveller Starter set. In the years that followed I hand generated a whole sector and did a few detailed subsectors. A few years ago I threw about a card filing system with two hundred hand generated characters. I miss them now. A decade or so ago I made it a mission, still to be completed, to collect all the classic GDW stuff and anything else I could get hold of from the classic era. It is a game I have played and run a lot. I found a fellow obsessive about the rules in Jim and we still talk about the good old days even now.

As I got more and more into sci-fi the film Alien became a big pull. I read the novel and got a books about the set and costume design for the film. I was way too young to watch the film at the time it came out but remember sneaking around to watch it late at night on the 14" black and white TV. This film caused me to create my own Traveller universe just to fulfil the fantasy. It is a series of films that I have watched a lot (well maybe not the third one...travesty). I have brought figures and played board games, role-playing games, card games and even computer games.  Whilst it isn't Star Wars it is a close second.

In the first issue of Miniature Wargames had a sci-fi ship to ship combat system. I used this ruleset to make my own game. Counters were made from cornflake packets and games were played out on a large piece of paper with a hand drawn grid. I set up the different species as different fantasy races. This is probably because I didn't have much imagination.

Whilst I was doing my A levels videos were all the rage. One of my mates rented Dawn Of The Dead. The film was a revelation. Survival and horror. It made me a life long Romero fan. It was a world I could relate to and problems that I could actually sort out. Zombie horror films became my main source entertainment for two decades. Later on computer games like Resident Evil and Dead Rising have occupied me dir many days.

This one is an odd one. 40k was a great game in its day. Sadly that day was really in 1987. It's figures were a change and I loved them at the time. The races were fantasy one and this appealed to me at the time. What was I saying about not having much imagination? It seems like I was not the only one. I spent a lot of money on the figures at the time. In many ways it was this game and the figures I painted that got me through some of my darkest teenage years. It is also a time I lament. White Dwarf had become a staple of my life and it was around this time that it, like the shops, changed into something I started not to like.

More tommorrow.

1 comment:

  1. This really strikes a chord Fred - looking forward to reading part two :-)