I was going to write a post on how different roleplaying was when I was younger and what I miss about those days, but during my research I came across this post at Circa Games that makes my points far better than I ever could.
Now that I think back, it seems inevitable that I would become a roleplayer. I enjoyed reading fairy tales when I was a child, and discovered The Hobbit when I was eight or nine (the Rankin-Bass movie came on TV and I noticed a book of the same name on my dad’s bookshelf).
When I got older I started reading books of brain teasers and the Encyclopedia Brown series. So I had both the “Fantasy is Cool” and “Figuring Things Out is Fun” memes firmly in my head.
I got a little older, maybe eleven or twelve. I’d heard Dungeons & Dragons mentioned by friends, and saw it played in the movie E.T. I also was reading things like Choose Your Own Adventure books. I’d played the original Atari 2600 Adventure cartridge and enjoyed it, and had heard about the Crowther and Woods Adventure game, though I hadn’t played it yet.
These experiences all kind of percolated in my head until one afternoon I asked my sister, who was about the same age as me, if she wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons. When she agreed, I gave her a list of equipment items and allowed her to pick three of them. Then I ran her through a few situations that I had designed…one involved her having to disable a force field by throwing water onto the machine generating it; I can’t remember any of the others now. That was the first roleplaying experience I ever had.
And then I got into junior high and encountered the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. Oh, man, did I love those things – I finally understood what the dice were for, the books were designed to be played by one person, and they were actually well-written and illustrated.
And then in high school I finally got to read the Red Book, and that was about it. My infatuation was only reinforced when computer roleplaying games came along.