During a recent conversation with gaming friends, the topic of “what games most influenced us over the years?” came up. It was so interesting to hear how games we played as kids, in school, and later in life influenced our gaming interests today and led to some of us working in the game industry. This Monday series will take a personal look into my history as a gamer with my #Top10InfluentialGames. This week, we fly into my first roleplaying experience, which I was introduced to on a school bus.
During high school, I rode the bus until my senior year. So many memories, not all of them wonderful, but there is one that I am thankful for. While riding home on the bus one afternoon, I noticed that the guy sitting in front of me was looking at a book with wonderful drawings of comic book heroes and he was taking notes. I was very intrigued, as I was a huge fan of the Super Friends cartoon and read a comic book here and there when I could afford one from the local Hook’s drug store. I leaned over the back of the seat and asked what kind of comic book he was reading. He turned around with a beaming smile and said it wasn’t a comic book but a new game he had found recently. He handed me the book, Villains and Vigilantes, and began to excitedly tell me about this superhero game. I was overwhelmed and confused. He was so excited and babbled on about characteristics, randomly rolling super powers, weaknesses, and something he called polyhedradice. I was like, whoa . . . slow down. Is this a board game of some kind? He just kept smiling and said it wasn’t but it was played at a table, with dice and paper, and your imagination. He asked if I would like to play it with him sometime.My first RPG purchase ever and I still have it. The books are full of my notes and highlights as I learned what roleplaying was all about.
I barely knew him other than riding on the bus together, but he handed me the book and told me to read it. Why would this guy I don’t know at all trust me with his book and want to play a game with me? Well, I did love superheroes, so I borrowed the book, thinking I would read it and just give it back to him later that week. Once my homework was done, I pulled out the book and started reading. The artwork was great but the book didn’t read like any game I had read before. It has rules for creating your own superheroes like I had read about in the comics. It explained how you could use more rules and some dice to create fights between superheroes and villains. It even described a world much like in the comics, where superheroes and villains would exist. Before I realized it, I had read the entire book and wanted to know so much more. Next day on the bus I returned the book. I asked where he had found this, what had it called itself . . . oh yeah, role-playing game. He said at a store in Muncie called The Wizard’s Keep. I said I definitely wanted to play this some time and would like to get my own copy of the game. That Saturday, I had my mom take me to my first ever friendly local game store. She and I were both overwhelmed by this store, but the guy behind the counter pointed us to a table loaded with game boxes. I flipped through the boxes to see games like Aftermath!, Bushido, Boot Hill, Car Wars, and Justice, Inc. until I found what I was looking for. I used my hard earned allowance and bought a boxed set of Villains and Vigilantes. My first ever RPG purchase, and I still have that box set on my shelf to this day.
From that chance encounter on the bus, I had many a conversation on the bus and numerous Saturday afternoons talking about and playing V&V as we called the game we loved so much. Early on, we were inspired by the images in the book, designing characters around what we thought their powers would be, then we created our favorite comic characters, then finally we moved on to creating our own unique superheroes and villains. Over time, my friend became more and more busy with his job and we did not game together as much. Eventually, we quit meeting altogether and I was left making up characters just for fun. It was during that time that a group of friends who had seen me with my superhero books and folders of notes approached me about another game . . . but that is a story for next week.
What about you? What game have you played the most over the years that had a huge impact on you? I would be very interested in others writing about their #Top10InfluentialGames. Next week, I will share my expanding experiences in the roleplaying hobby during a time that it was very frowned upon.