Saturday, 12 March 2011

My Gaming Memoirs Part 1 - 1983

Is that how you spell memoirs? I suppose I could have looked it up on an online dictionary but I didn't. I guess I could have looked it up in the time it's taken me to type this up, but now that I've spent the time writing this it seems a shame to delete it all. Ah, well, I'll go with 'memoirs'.

MY GAMING MEMOIRS Part 1

It's 1983. My little sister Christina is still at primary school and I've not long started secondary school. She comes home one night with a small pamphlet filled with small images of children's books, all published by Puffin and being made available to schools. She wants to know if anyone wants anything as she is going to purchase a book or two.

Up until this point I've been a passive observer of the science fiction/fantasy genres. I've cut my teeth on Star Wars, Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, the BBC dramatisation of The Lord of the Rings and plenty of classic sci-fi movies such as This Island Earth, The Thing From Another World and the Day The Earth Stood Still. I was still a distance from appreciating science fiction and fantasy in all it's forms - I still didn't like Blade Runner because Han Solo wasn't doing what I expected him to do.

So I'm scouring these book images for anything that seems even slightly quirky when my roving eyes fall on the image of some kind of cat/wolf beast with black fur and red eyes, at the head of a long line of beasts all exiting a castle as bat-winged creatures soar through a blood-red sky. It's 'The Citadel of Chaos', book two of the Fighting Fantasy series, and I'm intrigued. An original fighting fantasy adventure in which YOU are the hero? Whatever could this mean?

So, bang goes a week's pocket money and the book is ordered. Several days later, I sit down on a rainy Saturday afternoon to read it and I'm perplexed by these scores, dice and apparent rules. After raiding the tattered Monopoly box for two six-sided dice I tentatively have a first go at the book.

I don't remember how well I did, but I do remember missing my tea as I was totally absorbed by the book. I went to bed late and arose early the next Sunday morning, like pre-8 o'clock early, to carry on playing and it was only when my mom physically dragged me out of the bedroom to eat my Sunday dinner was I able to get any kind of grasp on the real world. At school the following Monday I gushed to classmates about this book, how amazing it was and how it allowed you to take part in and even decide the outcome of a story. I was hooked, and after I located a copy of 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain' I began to collect the books in earnest. I loved reading and my over-active imagination loved adventures - how could it get any better than this?

The following year, I'd have that question answered.