My Gaming History
My early family life began with general card games, particularly a version of Rummy which was called Coon Can (or Coon Can 500 for the suped-up version). Scrabble also saw regular play at Christmas (one of my grandmothers particularly enjoyed Scrabble). Fairly typical family stuff really.
My hobby gamer career began in 1984 when I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons. While we had the “red box” set around, we basically jumped straight in with the 1st Edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. My friends and I tended to do a lot of our D&D playing as a free-form style role-playing experience as we walked around the school yard at lunch. This largely stemmed from the fact that we didn’t actually have a DM’s Guide. That mystical tome was owned by my friend’s older brother who jealously guarded it from our young, prying eyes. On occasion we’d manage to find that tome’s latest hiding spot and then we would steal it away and begin a frantic session of hand-copying out tables of all sorts (but usually the magic item tables). (This is of course before the time of photocopiers and scanners.) We toyed with some other systems including Champions, Marvel Super Heroes, and Robotech but D&D was the core of my early role-playing experiences.
My role-playing more or less stopped towards the end of high school as a lack of players and money took its toll. I would come back to D&D for a short while in university but the bloated bulk of 2nd Edition D&D failed to hold me. (The fact that the group I found constantly chopped and changed what they were doing each week didn’t help either.)
Through a review in Dragon Magazine (which I still read even if I wasn’t playing D&D that much) I found this game called Magic: The Gathering. It sounded really interesting and I managed to get myself a couple of (Unlimited) starter decks (from which I scored a Black Lotus which I never actually really used because of that whole ante thing from the early days). Sadly while the cards and game appealed to me I didn’t really have much opportunity to play nor the finances to support playing Magic. Thus began my on-again, off-again relationship with Magic (as of this writing it’s currently set to “Off”).
University was a fairly hobby-game-free period for me. However I did still rack up a lot of games of 500 and Yahtzee as I was doing a degree in Outdoor Education and would always carry a snaplock bag containing a deck of cards and some dice on our camping trips. During university I also began the gamer conversion of my future-wife Joanna as the awesome coolness of Slivers drew me back into Magic for a time and I conned her into playing with me from time to time.
In 2000, my wife and I were in the midst of a trip around the world when I wandered into a game store in Canada. The 3rd edition of the D&D Player’s Handbook had just been released and I decided to pick up a copy of Dragon Magazine (Issue 274) to see what they were doing with this game from my childhood. I was intrigued by what I read and in England I picked the next issue. By the time I returned to Australia I was set on getting back into D&D. I found a group to play with in Melbourne and my wife later decided to join as well.
From 2002 to 2007 my wife and I were living in Tokyo, Japan. When we went we made a point of fitting in our D&D books so we could get a group together in Japan. And we were able to get together a fantastic group of people (many of whom came and went as is typical of ex-pats) to play D&D with. My D&D gaming in Japan both kept me sane and introduced me to the best friends a guy could hope to know. It was an amazing experience being able to play around a table with Australian, American, English, German, Spanish, and Swedish accents and to have the input of such well-traveled gamers into my game. My campaigns in Japan are still the highlight of my D&D career.
Magic also had a big revival for me in Japan as I could actually afford to play in Japan and I had the opportunity to play weekly in the friendly league at Shakey’s Pizza Restaurant in Takadanobaba (Tokyo).
In Japan I also became a regular listener to way too many gaming podcasts and many of the role-playing ones turned me onto the Indie role-playing design movement.
While in Japan, one of my players also introduced me to this game called The Settlers of Catan which my wife and I quite enjoyed. Around this time I discovered BGG and started noticing some of the games being produced. Fantasy Flight Games particularly grabbed my attention as I really loved the idea of a massive game like Twilight Imperium. Just before leaving Japan my wife and I finally had a weekend off which allowed us to go along to one of the regular games days run by members of the Japan International Gamers Guild (JIGG). There I had the chance to convince my wife to play a couple of games I’d read. One game of Arkham Horror and one game of Fury of Dracula later our designer board gaming life began. Just before leaving Japan we bought a bunch of small games including Lost Cities (which continues to be a favourite of ours).
My Gaming Present
These days I’m a gamer who’ll play most anything (if I have the time) but I’m not really that competitive. The social side of gaming is much more important to me than my win-loss record. (That’s probably why co-op games and role-playing games appeal to me so much.)
My role-playing sessions see a wide range of games hitting the table: lots of small-press stuff and of course some of the bigger games out there. Right now, I’m really excited by the fifth edition of my beloved Dungeons & Dragons. It feels like a perfect match for me.
I am one of the founders of The Sunshine Coast Boardgamers board game club on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. We meet every second Sunday afternoon to play a wide range of games. For more info check out our website:
Professionally, I’m now working as a freelance editor and proofreader in the gaming field. You can see my professional BGG page here.
If you’re ever on the north side of Brisbane then let me know and we can have a game!