My first truly memorable experience with gaming was watching my dad play. I would look over his shoulder or sit in a chair next to his and watch him play games on his computer. I saw everything from Half-Life, Rainbow Six, and Wolfenstein, to Red Alert, Tribes, and Diablo. At first, he'd say things like "You shouldn't watch this game" sometimes, and so I'd walk out of the room, but pretty soon he'd say it even less and less often, I suppose after seeing that I thought they were awesome and I wasn't murdering the other kids at the day care or anything. Games and specifically PC games are my connection with my dad, a way I found that I could bond with him and relate to him from a very early age. I always asked if I could have a turn, and eventually I had my own computer to share with my brother with my own copy of a few games.
My dad would take me to LAN parties, which my mom and us kids called the "computer parties." I would wake up one Saturday morning and find that my dad's computer was gone, and it would almost be like Christmas. I would help him move mine to the car, and off we went. I wasn't always allowed to play, and sometimes I wouldn't be allowed to go at all which that bummed me out, but I understand now that not everyone wants to play Diablo with their adult friends and a five year old. When I did go, though, it was amazing and exciting. I would run around and crawl under the long tables and things to help people put their computers together and hook them together with the ethernet cables. There was food and family and people laughing, and I was happy to be recognized as being responsible enough to play all of these M rated games with my dad and uncles and cousins and people I didn't know.
LAN parties and playing games with my dad were my first step to learning what makes a computer tick and my first step to being an avid gamer who understands that they do not themselves make kids violent. I now have my own LAN parties on occasion. Even in high school my dad was still coming into my room and having conversations like this with me:
DAD: Can you help us beat No Mercy on Expert? The Zoey bot's killing us.
ME: Dad, it's a school night.
DAD: Yeah, but we really need your help.
Games are a great hobby, and my friends and I recently played through Diablo II together, which was the second time for me. Playing with family and friends is the reason I love online gaming and LANs so much, and LANs in particular are always good times.
If you like older games, you'll love my good friend Patrick, or Werebear
, who is currently playing through every single Zelda game in order, and is probably going to start writing what he calls "backlog reviews" soon.