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Because all the cool kids are doing it: My gaming DNA.

I am, like many people my age, 41 years old. I've been gaming since 1982. I found gaming in a weird bookshop under the Champs Elysees in Paris in autumn '82. I'd seen - I think; my memory is notoriously poor - hints of the gaming scene in the Diceman off Grafton Street in Dublin, but it was that shop in Paris where I actually bought my first two games. I don't remember now if I bought them both at the same time or if I wheedled my parents into coming back again to pick the second game. Those games were Universe and Dragonquest, both published by the much-missed SPI. At the time I was completely unaware of the game culture the SPI games grew out of. I was also ignorant of D&D and the designs that both Dragonquest and Universe were responding to.

I had no gaming group. I didn't know what a gaming group was. But those two books grabbed me and fired my imagination something fierce. I did what we all did I think. I made characters. I drew maps and dungeons. I wrote new spells and drew pictures of guns and starships. A few months later I met mates in high school and we started playing for real. By that point I'd found another game shop, one that was to become a Mecca for me while I lived in Paris ('82-'86). There I bought Runequest.

Runequest was our go-to game for most of my high school years. The steady improvement of characters through the skill system and the mad Gloranthan setting sold it to us. I made friends in high school with an odd mixture of guys. Phil and Sean, Canadian brothers who dived into trollish culture, Phil and Matt, who took to Humakt, and Sean, another Canadian, who loved his Dragonewt PC. In retrospect we were like that motley gang of adventurers that turn up in King of Dragon Pass. Powergamers and loons, I'm surprised we didn't have a Baboon or Morokanth PC. (We did, of course, have ducks. A Zorak Zorani duck.)

High school wouldn't have been complete without D&D of course. I had the Erol Otus red box basic D&D and soon after the Expert set too. We played The Keep on the Borderland, and went bonkers trying to map the twisty little passages. We moved on to AD&D at some point too. Not sure when exactly but my DMG has a patina of age and fingerprints born of Boursin and coke from many weekend sessions at my parents' dining table.

We also played Call of Cthulhu (flaggerbastard!), Paranoia, Warhammer FRP and many, many other games during those heady days of '83-'86. Then I finished school and moved back to Ireland to go to college.

I didn't play much in college. I'm not sure exactly why, though roleplaying wasn't as big in Ireland in '86 as it later became. We did have a few games, mostly later on when I was a Ph.D. student. It was during that period that I GMed a game of Amber Diceless Roleplaying for a large group (12) of friends. That campaign still features as the highlight of my gaming career. I'm not sure why but the combination of the players, the in-game intrigues and the out-game relationships of a gang of twenty-somethings, and the roll-your-own freedom of Amber's shadows seemed to really gel into something special.

We played other games too. Pendragon, long a favourite, got an outing with a couple of friends, my brother and a couple of his friends. One-off games of Call of Cthulhu and a fun old school campaign of Shadow of Yog Sototh filled some months of play time. I played in an intense, dark game of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun-inspired SF disguised as fantasy set on a prison colony under crumbling domes on a world bathed in UV light. We never discovered the fate of Raqad, the first domed city, as out-game relationships sundered the game before we reached a conclusion.

Eventually I got my Ph.D. and by a strange coincidence moved back to Paris for a post-doc job for a couple of years. I did essentially no gaming in this time. But man, did I buy a lot of games. Paris has quite a few game shops and I knew them all.

I got married and moved back to Ireland at the end of '98, started working in Alcatel at the start of '99 and there met [profile] marzut, who I quickly enmeshed in my nefarious gaming plans. Luckily she knew a couple of other Cork gamers, one of whom, [profile] alaimacerc, was known to me from the Gloranthan and Pendragon fandoms. We've been playing together ever since.

So thanks to Phil and Sean, Chris and Matt, and Sean C. You helped me put my foot on the road that goes ever on.
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