I began playing games at a young age. I don't remember exactly when -- but it was early. Memories of early games of Old Maid, Uno, and Go Fish flood my head. My parents gamed with me a lot, and I even remember gaming with my grandparents frequently. As I matured my tastes shifted to board games. Early board games included Candy Land and Uncle Wiggily -- simple stuff for young kids.
I remember being fascinated by a copy of King of the Hill that my grand parents owned. The 3-D board was unique enough to me. But the game also featured a randomizer that was terribly exciting to a 6 year-old boy! It was a teeter-totter-like "plinko" device (pictured on the upper right of this image) with a small metal ball inside. You tipped the teeter-totter to one side. The ball bounced through the series of pegs eventually landing in one of the numbered slots determining how many spaces your marble could move. I think my fascination with King of the Hill led to my later desire to receive other 3-D type games for birthday and Christmas presents. Some of my favorites included: Fireball Island, Torpedo Run, and Crossbows & Catapults. I was certainly into having fantastic playing "bits" at a young age. And I still think beautiful, tactile components are are great way to get children hooked on gaming. Sure, a well designed and well tested game can certainly come in a plain box with ordinary bits. But the power of beautifully detailed and sculpted components can grab a child's attention like little else. And if the game components can double as toys for those not old enough to appreciate the game's mechanics then all the better! My early game collection certainly opened up my imagination to the possibilities that games provide. I hope I am passing on the same passion to my children.
Around age 10 I started to desire to play more "real" games -- those that focused less on purely having nice bits. I wanted to play games where you had to think a little to win. In hindsight, I realize the games I longed for when I was 10 are not exactly what would be considered "meaty" games by today's standards. Games like: Monopoly (which I don't think I ever actually finished a game of), Scotland Yard, Survive!, Balderdash, Cathedral, and my favorite, Pay Day, brought many hours of joy to my family. I would take games with me on sleep-overs at friends' houses. I would take them with me to summer camp. Many of the early games I still own bare the scars of such trips: my name written in permanent marker on every important game piece and the outside of the box, rubber band marks from trying to hold all of the pieces and the box top together, missing small components (a few of the castaways from Survive! come to mind).
My fondness for board gaming was replaced by computer gaming in my late teen years as our family purchased our first "multimedia" PC when I was 17. I'd been playing PC games of the 16- and 256-color variety for years, but CD-ROMs raised things to a whole new level! Throughout my college years and early adult life PC (and to a lesser extent console) games dominated my gaming, and much of my social, time. It was only in the past 2 years that my passion for board games resurfaced.
Next time I will talk about my move back into strategy board games and away from PC and console gaming.