Friday, October 21, 2011

Open Friday: When Did You Enter the Hobby?

Partially as an experiment and partially out of genuine interest, I'm making this week's Open Friday post a poll (which I hope I configured properly below): when did you enter the hobby? Feel free to use the comments to provide additional context or detail to your vote, if you wish, but what I'm curious about is the overall temporal skew of the regular readers of this blog.

Update: I realize it's still very early, but, so far, the poll is skewing almost exactly the way I expected it would, particularly the huge surge in the 1980-1984 period. The only thing I didn't that strikes me as odd is that the 1990-1994 period has more votes than the 1985-1989 period, though, in retrospect, I can easily see why. But it's still early, so things could change.

110 comments:

  1. 1983, 5th grade, 10 years old.

    After my 6th-grade neighbor showed off his new Gamma World 2e boxed set on the bus, I had to have my own copy, because the art and the concept blew my little mind. I begged my mom to take me to the mom-n-pop (and long defunct) Gierspeck & Roper bookstore in downtown Conroe, Tx, and I plopped down some allowance to get it.

    I spent weeks just happily rolling up characters, until it dawned on me that I was supposed to do something with them.

    Been a gamer ever since.

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  2. It depends on what you mean by "the hobby". If you mean the first time I actually sat at a table and played a proper role-playing game, then it's somewhere around 1994/1995, but I went for the latter.

    I'd got into Games Workshop games -- HeroQuest mainly -- around 1990 and I'd been reading Fighting Fantasy gamebooks earlier than that, but I don't know if they count.

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  3. 1980, I was 10 years old and on summer vacation. I went into a bookstore and got the D&D coloring book. Played it with my friends when I got back home and that got us all started.

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  4. 1981 for me, when D&D was at its height. I played religiously until '87. When the Dragonlance craze took over in the middle of these years, I became frustrated in the direction TSR modules were taking, but found solace in ICE's Middle Earth gazetteers. So my post-'83 gaming was a bit schizophrenic in that I situated the old TSR pulp fantasy scenarios (from the pre-'83 era) within an over-arching context of high-brow fantasy that would have had Tolkien shrieking in his grave. Ironically, it never seemed contradictory to me.

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  5. Kelvin,

    In this case, "the hobby" means tabletop RPGs rather than related types of games.

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  6. 1994. First session was my 12th birthday party. :D

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  7. I was about 14 so 1993. One of my brother's friends had the AD&D 2nd edition books and he convinced me to play. The first thing I bought was the Basic set, not realizing, there was a difference.

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  8. It was either late 1980 or early 81 for me.

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  9. 1982. I was in the 9th grade and had decided to enter the ROTC program, mainly to avoid PE. But not only did I find ROTC to be a lot of fun, I also met some guys in the program, who played a certain game I had heard about and in which I was very interested . :)

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  10. My first game was at a boy scout meeting. We played a bunch of dwarfs (with a hobbit and a magic-user, no doubt) going through what i think was the Keep on the Borderlands. I vaguely remember battling goblins or kobolds in a cave complex. And having my mind blown.

    I looked it up, and I guess that it must have been the summer of '80 (when B2 came out). Certainly i was into it enough that i received the Monster Manual for my (12th?) birthday (March '81?).

    (by the way, i thought it was earlier than that, so i voted 74-79 up there, but i guess it should be 80-84 - sorry to skew the results...)

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  11. The end of 5th grade in 1980. We went through B2 and then straight on to The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief. We were the very definition of munchkin and it was magical. :-)

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  12. I forgot something. I was first exposed to D&D when I was in 4th grade. Mrs. Elmore, my 4th grade teacher, was the sister-in-law of artist Larry Elmore. Larry was good enough to come to our class and show off some of his work. Before I moved away from my home town I used to run into him every now and then.

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  13. '93 at my friends 10th birthday party we played D&D all night and i fell in love. Before then, it wasn't even on my radar.

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  14. Entered: 1979
    Serious gamer: 1981

    What I find so cool is the number of people that did come to the hobby after the "Golden Age" and still talk about how much fun they had. It goes to show that someone's new "not-really-D&D" edition is someone else's "nostalgia, this is the way we did it back in the day" edition.

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  15. Christmas of '91 brought me the Moldvay Basic box. 12 years old, 7th grade. Moved on to AD&D by buying the PH and DMG about a year later, and moved on to 2E in college (bought into it right when it came out), but I've come back around to Basic being the only way to play.

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  16. As noted two months ago on my blog:

    August 25th, 1977.

    I was 8 years old.

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  17. Tried to get in in jr high but just didn't pan out. Partly lack of people, partly immature mind. Fast forward to uni, 1989, girlfriend at the time got me into it. She disappeared in a room every Sunday with 4 dudes, thought she was making porn or something (not really) and demanded in. Rolled up an Elric-inspired elf (tres original I know) that was banned from the table for chaotic TPK-causing. Ah, good times...

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  18. 1990? I was eleven? That sounds right. Either TMNT & Other Strangeness or Red Box; my memory isn't clear on that. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm not sure it wasn't earlier? Crap, I suck at remembering my childhood. I could tell you about the characters I had, though!

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  19. I'm in the 1979 group. I was 9 years old. I guess I never really did the math before but I didn't think I would be in the "low end" of the pool.

    We started with what people call the "blue box", the one with the dragon sitting on a pile of treasure. It didn't have dice for some reason, just cardboard chits. Soon after we saw the "red box" basic set, the one with the green dragon on it, in a book store and bought that. A little while later we decided "Advanced" was the way to go and off we went. We never thought of them as different games so moving from box 1, to box 2, to Advanced really confused us for a while until we figured out that they were all slightly (or very) different games and stuck with Advanced from then on out.

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  20. Toward the end of 8th grade, I was in a toy/hobby shop at the mall when I picked up a book all about the gadgets in the James Bond movies (in fact being the Q Manual for Victory Games' James Bond 007 RPG). I later wanted to get the rulebook and discovered the local gaming store in the process.

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  21. Larry was good enough to come to our class and show off some of his work.

    That's really awesome. What a memory!

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  22. The answers will be probably birthplace biased. In Italy for example RPGs arrived about '86 with the Red Box (actualy, together with The Dark Eye, because adventure path books were relatively big, and some more or less obscure RPGs already existed, but still...).

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  23. The players handbook was not out yet. The first time we went to the game store as a group the Monster Manual was there, but none of us had seen it before, we were already playing Holmes (Armor Class -2, what does that mean?). Not sure if we really started pre-MM (Dec 77) definately pre PH (June 78). So late 77 early 78, I was 14 or 15.

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  24. I might be the only gamer who started playing D&D because of a detention in school. Back in '79, junior highschool. I was given a detention (I don't remember for what) and went down to the room assigned. When I got to the room another teacher was there (not the one I was in trouble with) so I was free to do anything. Several guys in the back were playing AD&D and I joined them for my first RPG game.

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  25. I am proud to say that James Maliszewski was my mentor way, way back in 1981 and introduced me to the world of role playing games. I had never experienced any type of fantasy or role playing, but during the time we lived in the same neighborhood (and attended the same school)he was the catalyst that introduced our small group to Basic D&D, Advanced D&D, Gangbusters!, Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Boot Hill, Star Trek, Call of Cthulhu and many, many other mini games. I am sure I missed some, perhaps the Marvel Heroes game and some more I am sure I will recall hours or days from now. James was the single most influential person in my young life in regard to exposure to the amazing world of fantasy gaming, comic books and just plain imaginative fun. In case I had never said it to you, Thanks~

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  26. 1979, August 11th, on my 12th birthday when I walked into Waterloo Hobbies (Stony Brook, NY) for the first time.

    A different kid walked out, let me tell you...

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  27. I started playing in 1999. Nine years old (youngin alter!) and player AD&D first edition. It wasn't until high school that I started playing 3.5, which lasted a couple of years. Now I'm back to AD&D. Funny how these things happen.

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  28. 1975, for me. I'd just gotten my driver's license and, tooling around Sacramento, found Viking Hobby near my high school. I hadn't heard of D&D, but was a Lord of the Rings fan and was fascinated by the Minifigs orcs for sale. That's when the store owner mentioned there was this new game out that let you play as if you were in Tolkien's world, and he showed me these three little books...

    I was doomed. :)

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  29. 1982. One of my friends introduced me to the Fighting Fantasy books and shortly after that we got together for our first D&D Game. I still game on a regular basis with some of the players from that first adventure.

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  30. 1985. I was eight years old. My older siblings (all of whom had played at one point or another) decided to introduce me to AD&D.

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  31. At age 14, in the autumn of 1982, in a game shop in Paris I stumbled across SPI's Dragonquest and Universe RPGs. I bugged my parents and got them both during the next month, read them and was entirely confused. At school I managed to find some other guys who were already into D&D and Runequest and it all snowballed from there.

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  32. I started between '85 and '89, and I find it strange that the span of those years seems to be a "lost time" in a sense, according to your poll. But then again, I'm not a huge "sage" of the hobby, so I could use some insight from James and the rest of the community as to why those years seem to be polling so low. And again, I realize this isn't a question of "when did you start with D&D" but rather the entrance into the hobby itself.

    From what I can remember from my "self-lore," I started in 1988 when I was 13 with AD&D (the books with the revised cover art, which according to The Acaeum first appeared in 1983). I might have started playing D&D a couple years earlier, but my mom had me so terrified of going to Hell for playing the game (she tried hard to raise me as a devout Baptist like herself) that I didn't have access to it until '88. And, in light of all the discussions of late about Christianity and D&D, I want to reiterate that it was a Catholic kid who insisted that there was nothing wrong with D&D (my old friend Patrick) and got me into the hobby. Again, I stand firm that for the most part Catholics did not fear D&D nearly as much as Protestants (I'm curious if this is similar to what others experienced).

    Like you said, James, I guess it does make some sense that there is a surge around 1990, which pretty much coincided with the beginning of the 2E AD&D era (though, again, this isn't an exclusively D&D poll). But I want to clarify with you: when you said "in retrospect, I can easily see why," what did you mean? What, to you, makes sense about the surge during that time?

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  33. 1983...12 years old...a friend of my dad's introduced him, my uncle and me to AD&D with U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh. I was immediately hooked.

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  34. But I want to clarify with you: when you said "in retrospect, I can easily see why," what did you mean? What, to you, makes sense about the surge during that time?

    1989 saw the release of 2e, while 1991 saw the release of Vampire: The Masquerade. Together, those two RPGs were probably responsible for bringing a lot of newcomers into the hobby, so I'm not at all surprised to see a small surge there, compared to the dying days of 1e.

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  35. Fall of 1981, Grade 6, Moldvay Basic, my younger brother my only player until I changed schools for grade 7.

    I had sent away for an "Intergalactic Trading Post" catalog based on an advert (in Starlog?) in 1980. In that catalog were classifieds that included Flying Buffalo's distinctive logo. I sent away for FBI's catalog & upon receipt started pesting my mother for Tunnels & Trolls. She eventually got me D&D Basic from a toystore.

    Funny to think that if FBI had "non-hobby" distribution like TSR did, I might never have played D&D at all!

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  36. I want to reiterate that it was a Catholic kid who insisted that there was nothing wrong with D&D (my old friend Patrick) and got me into the hobby. Again, I stand firm that for the most part Catholics did not fear D&D nearly as much as Protestants (I'm curious if this is similar to what others experienced).

    You're basically right. I went to a pretty conservative Catholic high school (though was never Catholic myself), but there was a gaming club, and D&D was never frowned on in any way. On the other hand, there were a couple of fundie-families in my town who saw D&D as the devil's work. Naturally these weren't mainline Protestants.

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  37. Wargaming (where I was taught that the plastic figures under my command were representative of actual people and should be treated as such): late 1975.

    Roleplaying (when a friend at the wargames club came back from a trip to the US with this new game in a white box): mid 1977.

    And I was lost.

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  38. I remember I was 13 when some of the new kids in my school introduced the hobby: before anyone could realize everyone was reading de 1E Players Handbook; since I didn't have very much friends there (yeah, I was the kind of nerd kid that even the D&D players shun!), I had to find and buy my own Basic copy all by myself ...

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  39. 1986, grade 7, James Bond 007 by Victory Games.

    I had heard of rpg's before (going back as far as '84; mainly via comics & Starlog magazine seeing ads for JB) but never had the opportunity to play, or even know where to buy them for that matter.

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  40. 1982. We saw "E.T. the Extraterrestrial" that summer and I wondered what the game the kids were playing in the kitchen was. Had to read the novelization to get the name of the game, and then proceeded to the local Kay Bee to purchase the Moldvay Basic set. Spent the rest of the summer in the basement with my little brother, hunting orcs.

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  41. Our local hobby shop was in the same shopping center as the grocery store and the town library, and they had a sign in the window about learning to play D&D. We were interested and said something. My mother had heard good things on the mother-grapevine about the game, so we three kids were dispatched to the hobby shop one Saturday, there to roll up our first characters. Our mom bought the AD&D box.

    For a while, it was a great thing for sibling togetherness! :) But we never played together, just planned out settings, and then played with our separate friends at school. (My brothers especially with their Cub Scout/Boy Scout friends.) We were weird kids, I guess.

    Now that I think about it, it was right before all that Dallas Egbert mess. He was from our town, but I think most people (and crucially, our parents) thought he was more a druggie than anything else, so there wasn't much harassment. (But yeah, we were Catholic.)

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  42. Believe it or not, we had a 3 hour class once a week in school where the teacher DM'd. That was an awesome school!

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  43. The first game I played was Marvel Super Heroes back in 1988, at age 9, but I'm not sure if it counts. My brother and I had a couple of modules, the GM screen, and a massive amount of cardboard figures, but no rules. We created our own rules using 2d6 and had a blast over the summer. We were house rulers before we knew the main rules.

    I didn't get into RPGs as a hobby until nearly the end of my college days in 2000, through Mechwarrior, Heavy Gear and 3E.

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  44. Right after the release of Holmes. So like 1978 or 1979, I think. It's strange to me that i'm part of the fisrt wave, because at the time there was a vibrant wargame community in my town and there were a lot of older guys in the scene (at least the seemed older to me when I was 12)

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  45. One of the things I've heard time and time again amongst British gamers is the influence the solo Fighting Fantasy gamebooks had on them getting into the hobby. I heard one UK source--whose name I can't recall--state that Fighting Fantasy was more popular in Britain than D&D. I'm not doubting this and with the marvels of the internet I've come to realize how true this appears to be. This furthers my belief that solo gaming--modules, adventures, have and will always have a place in RPG.

    Christmas, 1981.

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  46. Either 1999 or 2000, shortly after I turned 13 and my parents just stopped caring about what I did with my time, so I rebelled in the single most tame way possible.

    And yes, I realize this practically makes me a newborn among your readership

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  47. Early 1980. I was stationed in Orlando, Florida with the navy, learning about nuclear reactors. One of my classmates had started telling me about this game one of our other classmates was running on the weekends in the backroom of the Petty Officers club. First few times I heard about it, I told him that was ' the stupidist damned thing I'd ever heard of'.

    A few weeks later, my girlfriend was out of town on a business meeting and he asked again. I didn't feel like going off base, and I had just finished the book I was currently reading, so I told him sure, I'd give it a try. The DM was an amazing guy, he made the world feel alive with his descriptions, and the players were all very willing to help 'the new guy who thought it was stupid' get his feet wet and have a good time.

    At the end of the session, I thanked all of them and apologized for being closed minded. I wound up playing with them off and on for the rest of the time I was stationed there, and have been playing (and gamemastering) on a fairly regular basis since.

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  48. "I realize it's still very early, but, so far, the poll is skewing almost exactly the way I expected it would, particularly the huge surge in the 1980-1984 period."

    Yeah, actually this poll's coming out identical to a chart I have hanging over my computer on "When Did You Start Playing D&D?" from ENWorld poll data back in 2006: Link

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  49. I never heard of a local parent freaking out over the game because of their religious sensibilities. A friends' mother did go nuts over Gamma World though, because it trivialized nuclear war. But she was crazy anyway.

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  50. In 1984 (8th grade) with the French translation of the Moldway Basic D&D, the French SF rpg Mega and Légendes celtiques.

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  51. I started in 1984 when 'Das Schwarze Auge' (The Dark Eye) was released in Germany. Started playing D&D maybe a year or two later. Before 1984 there was no real roleplaying community in Germany, except a few people, who had access to the American versions of D&D or AD&D. With the success of the German game 'Das Schwarze Auge' the gaming market exploded here. At first, we waited for the translation of the Mentzer boxed sets and the AD&D books, but we migrated soon to the English originals. Strangely, just as in the U.S. the Monster Manual was translated first and the Player's Handbook second, even though, the Player's Handbook had been already published in the U.S. This resulted in the same strange twilight world that existed in the States here in Germany, where you would use the AD&D MM together with the Metzer rules. I remember a D&D paladin taking on the devils from the MM, for example.

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  52. 1980-ish. I do remember it was winter, but I can't remember if I was in 6th grade or 7th (might even have been 5th). I also can't recall if I found Top Secret before Basic D&D, or the other way around. Either way, it was one or the other of the neighborhood kids. My father is a model railroader, and the Hobbyland stores had games and model kits (my other passion then) and railroad stuff and much more.

    re: religion-- My family is Catholic and I was attending Catholic schools, and we never encountered any anti-D&D pressure there. My parents said they'd heard some from other parents, but they brushed it aside.

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  53. 1989 saw the release of 2e, while 1991 saw the release of Vampire: The Masquerade. Together, those two RPGs were probably responsible for bringing a lot of newcomers into the hobby, so I'm not at all surprised to see a small surge there, compared to the dying days of 1e.

    For what it's worth, my first rpg was the second edition of Shadowrun. I played Vampire about three times in 2001 or thereabouts and AD&D2 once in 1996ish.

    One of the things I've heard time and time again amongst British gamers is the influence the solo Fighting Fantasy gamebooks had on them getting into the hobby.

    It's certainly true of me. I was well versed in the topoi of fantasy gaming long before I ever played D&D, more or less entirely due to the Fighting Fantasy books. One irony is that I was reading the Dragonlance novels in the mid 80's because of their fantasy content, with no conception at all that they were related to a game.

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  54. 1980-1984 Period is when I entered.

    I was first introduced to RPGs by my cousin. It started with The Moldvay Basic D&D box set around 82 or so when I was about 10 years old. About a year or so later, I was introduced to AD&D by a friend, we gamed both for a little bit, but by the time we were in High School, it was pretty much AD&D with house rules. During high school, we played a few games one off games of other RPGs - MERP, TSRs Marvel Super Heroes, Gamma World, Top Secret, Star Frontiers, Car Wars, Shadowrun some Homebrew Fantasy RPGs and, my favorite, Twilight:2000.

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  55. First time? a one-off in the summer of 1976 (or '77? they blur slightly) when I was 10 or 11, at Summer Camp. I was invited along by some counsellors and had absolutely no idea what was going on. Big group of 15 or so people; I occasionally rolled a die for reasons unknown to me. But the DM's descriptions were great!

    In the winter of 77 or 78 I got the Holmes box and shared it with friends in the neighborhood; one the them ended up with a Monster Manual. We went from there ...

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  56. This was back in '82 - '83. There was a gaming store that I would walk by everyday on my way home from school (I was eleven or twelve at the time). I remember the artwork on the games really stood out to me, since I was already a lover of fantasy and science fiction. Unfortunately, there was no way my family could afford the rule books.

    Around the same time as this, one of my friend's parents read something about how D&D was bad for kids, so they made him get rid of his books. I managed to get Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual for $10 (for the trio).

    I still have those copies.

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  57. I started playing D&D (as well as Gamma World and Traveller) during the summer of '79. My first purchase was the Monster Manual. Got my Holmes set October of '79, and had all of the AD&D books by Christmas.

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  58. Fall 1978/spring 1979. I was a 10-year-old wargamer (mostly the Metagaming Microgames); I wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons, but for some reason my folks wouldn't let me get a copy. I did get Wizard, though, and I had a friend who had Melee; putting them together, we played an RPG of sorts (wandering around and killing things). Then in the summer of 1980, I finally got the Holmes box set, my friend got Tunnels and Trolls, and between us we also managed to get all three booklets of The Fantasy Trip. So we played a mashup for a while, and then moved to AD&D because it was the only RPG any of our other friends wanted to play.

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  59. The data would probably be more meaningful if you also asked the respondent's age.

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  60. Apparently I can't do math in my old age, because I voted 1979 but on further thought I actually started playing in 1981, playing a brief 10-minute session during recess in the spring of 5th grade, and playing a sustained game with a character I actually cared for the following fall. I got my first books that November when the Fiend Folio was a new release. So it's pretty much my 30th anniversary of playing right now. Next year will be my 30th anniversary for DMing.

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  61. 1983, 3rd grade, turned 9 that fall. Played solid for about 3 years, dabbling in many other games but mostly focusing on AD&D. Campaigns were what you would expect from kids of that age.

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  62. In case I had never said it to you, Thanks~

    You're going to make a middle-aged man cry! :)

    But thanks for saying this. It really means a lot to me.

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  63. Yeah, actually this poll's coming out identical to a chart I have hanging over my computer on "When Did You Start Playing D&D?" from ENWorld poll data back in 2006

    Now, granted, any data I collect here will be skewed by the focus of the blog, but, even so, I fully expected to see a large cohort in the 1974-1979 period, an even bigger one in 1980-1984, followed by a significant drop-off after that point. That this corresponds roughly with what an older poll with a different audience came up with several years ago is very interesting, though not surprising.

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  64. It was 1979. I tell the sorted tale here.

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  65. It was 1979, and I learned to play with friends who got the original Basic D&D box set. That November, on my 13th birthday, I got the Holmes Basic D&D box set. I haven't looked back since then.

    I know that Xmas my parents were trying to track down AD&D materials that had already come out.

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  66. '83 or '84 or so, at the ripe old age of 7.

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  67. Late 90's

    Had been playing RPG computer games and MUD's since the early 90's. My patrol leader in Boy Scouts who was two years older than I had to convince me that D&D wasn't Satan worship. We started with AD&D 2e, revised hardcovers in about 98 or 99. It has been my game of choice ever since. I've played a plethora of games since, but it's the only I game that I run and the one I enjoy the most. It is a shame that no one else in my area seems to feel this way, as I have come to realize that I will most likely never be a player in AD&D 2e again.

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  68. 1985-1989. I was 11 years old when I read my first fantasy book (The Lord of the Rings) but my first DnD experience proper was a small dungeon crawl in 1987.

    http://bytesanddice.wordpress.com/
    Jon

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  69. 1977, coming in from hex-and-counter wargames for several years before that.

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  70. 1982. I was 9 years old. My older sister came home one day with the Moldvay Basic box, gleefully telling me about this game she'd started playing with her friends called "Dungeons and Dragons".

    I rolled my first character - an elf - that night.

    Been playing ever since. :)

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  71. 1977 - White Box and Supplements - including Chainmail and S&S. I was in the 8th grade. Played RPGs until my sophomore year in High School.

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  72. I started in 1989, with Paranoia 2nd edition and Recon Revised. I didn't play any version of D&D until 1993, by which time it was AD&D 2nd ed, possibly the worst of all editions (with the exception of 4th ed which is tripe from start to finish)

    Although your poll is skewing the way you thought it would, I would suggest it's because of your readership, rather than reflecting the extent of the real world - the vast majority of people I roleplay with now were somewhere between 4 years old and NOT BORN YET in 1984!

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  73. 1989 saw the release of 2e, while 1991 saw the release of Vampire: The Masquerade. Together, those two RPGs were probably responsible for bringing a lot of newcomers into the hobby, so I'm not at all surprised to see a small surge there, compared to the dying days of 1e.

    Right, agreed, 2E had a big hand in the '91-'94 surge. I feel sheepish for even asking! And how could I forget about Vampire? ;-) Double duh on me! Seriously, though, now that '85-'89 has moved into third place in the poll at this point, I feel much better!

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  74. Sorry, I meant the '90-'94 surge. Man, I need more sleep...

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  75. I bought the Holmes D&D basic set in 1978. Later I bought Gamma World. That same year I picked up the AD&D hardcovers as they came out. I remember seeing an ad for Traveller, and having to order the box set through the mail!

    I don't remember where I purchased the blue box at, but it was probably Cooper's Toyland in the Plymouth Park Shopping Center in Irving, Texas. I know this is where I bought the hardcovers! This was waaaaay before the city had a mall.

    Like many of the creators of the game I started with Avalon Hill war games, notably Gettysburg. Before that I was a voracious reader of fantasy and science fiction.

    After the hardcovers I didn't make many game purchases until years later, and got into the Iron Crown Enterprise systems.

    Of course I got involved in just about everything from the CCGs, miniature wargames, LARPing, etc. and have enjoyed most of it.

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  76. I started playing rpgs in 1977 when I was still 10 years old. An older friend in the Boy Scouts had an older brother who'd gone to college in Wisconsin and he'd picked up the original books. My friend brought his own copies on camping trips and just looking at the cool/awful pictures hooked me.

    I played sporadically for a year or two and then things exploded with the advent of the Advanced rulebooks.

    Within another year I was playing Boothill, V&V, Top Secret and Gamma World. I was at that stage where it was all great and even the Arduin books made perfect sense.

    By 1982 I was done with D&D and was off playing DragonQuest.

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  77. I started playing in sixth grade, 1981. My second cousin brought the D&D Basic set to recess and we sat in the gym with three or four other friends and played. We continued playing a couple times a week at school or at his house for a couple years.
    Later on we also tried Star Frontiers, Gamma World 3rd, Marvel Superheroes, Call of Cthulhu and AD&D.
    Through the years I played other games and collected many other games.
    I come from a family of collector's. It's either a mutation or a curse.
    I've been collecting comic books and role playing games for about thirty years.
    I've got great heaping piles of them 'round.

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  78. Christmas of 1981 Dragonquest dropped into my life and by the 26th we were rolling up characters and trying to figure out the game.

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  79. Remember James, you are a dude pushing 40, so it's no surprise that your readership consists overwhelmingly of other dudes pushing 40...

    If you were able to have captured the 18-35 demo, the WotC would have hired you long ago :)

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  80. Approximately 1980. It could have been a year or so in either direction. I was 10 in 1980.

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  81. 1979? 1980? Don't remember the year, exactly, but I will never forget the experience. My older sister received the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set for xmas, and my Dad ran an adventure for the both of us. It didn't even come with dice! We had to pick chits from a bag with our eyes closed LOL. The adventure didn't last long as both my sister's and my characters were slaughtered in short order- the three of us laughed for hours about the whole thing. Within a year or two, I had appropriated the box and even though I had no one to play with at the time, I poured over the books and maps memorizing every line and detail, adding my own elementary sketches and odd notes. Years later, dog-eared with taped edges, it was stolen by a "friend"- I was crushed. Decades later, thanks to the wonders of the interwebs and eBay, I found another Basic Set in good condition for a reasonable price. Such memories! The whole thing now holds a place of glory on my bookshelf.

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  82. 1980, started playing D&D with a group after school until it broke up. Later AD&D and Battletech then onto many others.

    ColKG

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  83. 78 - saw the Holmes set at a friends. This lead to joining a gaming group that were using the LBBs but other than seeing the box, I never saw any rules as the DM did all the rolling for the players. Bought the paperback MM and PH as they became available. Still have my original MM.

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  84. Fall of 1997, senior year of high school. A friend invited me to play. It was 2e but it was still a blast!

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  85. 1976. I was 15, and already playing AH/SPI boardgames and some miniatures. My dad was/is a model railroader, so my first exposure to the existence of D&D came from a general purpose hobby shop where I'd pick up Wargamer's Digest (which ran an article on it in '74.) My LBBs were a birthday present; parents had to trek out to Rider's Hobby Shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which was the nearest known location that carried that sort of thing.

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  86. 1977 Freshman year in high school; so excited to try game out talked my Mom into DMing one-on-one with me; maybe she was not thrilled -- first random encounter I was attacked by 12+ bandits; my 1st level fighter (name long since forgotten) never had a chance

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  87. I voted 1990-1994, because that's when I first played D&D. But I had Top Secret/SI long before that, though I only got to play it once. And, I had several bits of licensed D&D merchandise including solo or paired gamebooks and one of those plastic model playsets I always forget the name of. Of course, I also watched the D&D cartoon every Saturday morning!

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  88. 1981 is when I first got the red-box AD&D Basic Set. I was 9 and very proud that the box said "10 and up" but I was only 9. :)

    Not my first actual encounter with games, but it's really my "enter the hobby" moment instead of my "what is the stuff with monsters on it that my uncle has?" moment.

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  89. It would have been 1980 for me, although I was aware of gaming prior to this through adverts in Starburst magazine, and then later through conversations with my mother's first boyfriend following my parents' splitting up. Stuart talked about dungeons beneath "Lake Geneva" and adventures that resulted in their being flooded.

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  90. 1979 Penn State
    LBB traveller Age 19

    Loved it, within a month started playing AD&D as well.

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  91. Summer of '81, 13 years old, was given a copy of the Holmes box set by my older brother.

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  92. I first discovered my father's books in his closet sometime in the late 90's (maybe 1999?) I believe I was 10 or 11 years old at the time.

    I played a couple one-on-one games with him and a couple of games with friends on my block -I remember one occasion where I said to my dad: I wanna play the slavers stockade one! Me and a friend both got to use his old 10th level fighters, and, being 11 years old, decide to simply run up to the gates and smash them in. I think eventually we wound up falling into a pit trap and starving to death. Ah well.-

    I was 16 before I got to start playing in an old-school campaign; Brought in an illusionist, he got literally splattered against a wall 10 minutes into the session.

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  93. As a matter of fact I'm still playing in that campaign; last night was the latest session and 7 out of 9 got turned to stone by gorgons. Nothing dumb or silly happened just ran into a cavern (we're in the underdark looking for that dang dark elf city) our scout, being 60 feet ahead of the group, got stoned, and when we, ahem, "cautiously" followed we discovered how much range a gorgon's breast weapon has. Most of us failed our saves by rolling ones.

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  94. 1980 - Got the Holmes Basic Boxed Set for my eleventh birthday (the one with the DSL red dragon on the cover and the chits inside since TSR ran out of dice for several months).

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  95. Christmas 1979, with the Holmes Basic Set (sixth print, with the chits and B2). Really, this distribution probably closely mirrors TSR's sales figures.

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  96. I voted 1984 - I discovered Fighting Fantasy gamebooks in 1984, at age 11, and that led in to RPGs. D&D wasn't until 1985, though.

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  97. I answered "1990-1994" though it's a little more complicated than that. I was born in 1980, and started playing RPGs when I was about 8 or 9. I didn't really have access to any actual RPG books at the time, and I couldn't ask my parents, as they were Evangelical Christians and had bought into the "Satanic Panic" of the 80's, which persisted, in some communities, into the 90's (and beyond, from what I gather-- having seen a few "Harry Potter is a gateway to the occult" pamphlets). The made-for-TV movie "Cruel Doubt" I remember, had a considerable impact.

    So in the absence of actual gaming materials, my friends and I (mostly my friend James) would make up our own rules (usually simple coin flips or random number charts in imitation from the ones on the backs of Lone Wolf gamebooks) and create our own worlds influenced by whatever we were reading or watching at the time (Star Wars, Star Trek: The Next Generation, featured pretty heavily, along with the ads for D&D and Palladium games that featured heavily in Marvel Comics at the time).

    I played D&D and Rifts (well, character creation, anyway) a bit in Junior High and High School, but the games were always frustratingly short-lived. I did a lot more borrowing books from friends or shoplifting them (which I then had to hide from my parents like porn) and daydreaming than actually playing. It wasn't until around my junior year (1997) that I started getting involved in campaigns, running my own games, etc. My friends and I were mostly theater geeks, with a few artsy types and band kids thrown in, so Vampire: the Masquerade and other White Wolf games were a natural fit.

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  98. I voted late 80s, but after I thought about it, we didn't get into a routine of regular play until 1990. I played a couple dozen sessions of 1e/BECMI in 88/89, and then after the 2e books came out the guys in my group were hooked. I had 1e books, one guy had the BECMI sets, and everyone else had 2e books. We played a mishmash game and it worked pretty well.

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  99. I put down the early 80s. In truth, I was introduced to the game and played it for the first time in the early 80s, but didn't really stay with it. In 87, I met a group that played and we played off and on for the next couple years. Then we broke off and I didn't try again until the early 90s. That lasted about 2 games and then I lost interest. Then in the last decade, my boys became interested in it due to LoTR and Harry Potter. We decided to play it together, starting with version 3.5, but quickly going back to AD&D 1st edition. We've played for over a year and a half or so. But to be technical about it, I would have to say the early 80s were when I 'started', even if it didn't go anywhere at that time.

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  100. My first exposure to D&D was probably 1983 or '84 via summer camp; it was one of the activities you could sign up for. I didn't, but a buddy of mine did and he came home with a few lead miniatures and a vague idea of the game. So he 'taught' me how to play and we goofed around for a while with no rules except what we made up in our heads. I eventually went looking for rulebooks at the local hobby store, ended up getting the Mentzer Expert sent first (by confusing 'expert' with 'advanced'). Got that straightened out in short order, and spending on D&D and AD&D commenced.

    Go forward a few years to junior high school and fell in with a bunch of gamers and played basic D&D, AD&D, Marvel, Paranoia, Twilight 2000 etc. Then stopped playing in the late 1990's, and just rediscovered the hobby as my mid life crisis earlier this year :)

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  101. I think the reason this blog got the votes it did is who is still reading it regularly and semi regularly.

    The 4e guys and the 3rd eds aren't really gonna be here or care about any topics covered unless its something for fodder for a "grognards.txt" thread.

    Gives you an idea who your readers are and their background however.

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  102. It was around 1980 for me. I was 13, and my brother introduced me to the game. That was also around the time that basic computer games for the Apple ][ were starting to appear, so my love of computers contributed to my excitement about D&D.

    Funny thing, I don't think it was until just this year that I asked him how he'd gotten into D&D in the first place. He said there was a guy sitting behind him in class, who would lean forward and say quietly, "You're entering a room, and you encounter a mummy! Do you want to attack?" and my brother was like, "Um, OK." From that point, after a quick trip to Klippers hobby store in Glenview to buy the blue book with the dragon on the cover, and the rest is history!

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  103. 1982 Joined the D&D club at school. Also had a D&D themed yearbook that year.

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  104. Aw, the poll's closed! Well, for the record, it was the 74-79 period. I used to go to a lot of New York City conventions, and started to notice guys playing OD&D. I'd sit and watch, but no one asked me to play (I was a teenager). I wandered the tables, and brought home a copy of the Dungeon board game. My little brother and I played that for a while, meantime I subscribed to S&T, and ordered some orc figures. Finally, I bought Snapshot, and little brother bought Holmes D&D, so we played those. Shortly thereafter I started college (still not quite the 80's), and played in a game that was a mix of AD&D and OD&D books.

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  105. Missed the poll, but I started, I think, in the summer of 1977... a neighbor's older brother came home from college and began running Empire of the Petal Throne for his friends. We were allowed to watch a few games, but I would have been 12 then, and wasn't invited to play. I bought the White Box just before summer ended. I pulled it out recently, and was pleased to see I'd kept the original "catalog" that came in the box, with all the original prices for games, dice and miniatures.

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  106. this a dmb thing you should not put this on you fucken ass whole

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  107. this is dumb suck it and eat it in your poop you fucken a whole you shoulden't of done that.

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  108. Started wargaming as a kid in the early seventies, S&T and AH, then minis, initially Airfix plastic, with LoTR Minifigs used for Chainmail as my first metal figs. Bought D&D at Winter War '75, thinking it was an expansion of Chainmail.

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