As I've mentioned too many times by now, 2009 marked the 30th anniversary of my introduction into the hobby. I started playing D&D at Christmas 1979 at the age of 10 with the Holmes-edited boxed set. What's intriguing to me is that I keep meeting gamers who are younger than me and yet have been roleplaying longer than I. This means that there were apparently lots of kids who started gaming when they were as young as five years old.
That strikes me as strange; I can't imagine having the interest, let alone patience, to play D&D when I was in Kindergarten or First Grade. I've long suspected I got into the hobby when I did not just because of a series of serendipitous events, but because, at age 10, I was ready to do so. That is, I had grown up enough to (mostly) cast aside a lot of my childhood toys, but I wasn't yet old enough to cast aside the fantasies that went with them. Roleplaying thus provided me with an outlet for my imagination free from the toys I associated with being "a little kid."
Had I been younger, I doubt I'd have taken much notice of D&D, since it would have seemed a poor substitute for playing with GI Joe or Star Wars figures -- and too complicated to boot. Obviously, not everyone felt this way, given that seemingly so many of my "elders" in the hobby are in fact younger than I am -- but it's still odd.