What are your gaming influences?

I’m not sure where I start. Growing up, it was common for my folks and our family to get together for card nights (they often played Blackout/Oh Hell). My mom hosted a couple of murder mystery parties when I was young. My folks had a Pong machine, and I was born into an Atari 2600. Both my mom and my Nanny (grandma) are/were ruthless Scrabble wizards, and always eager to play. This is all before we talk about crosswords, jigsaws, sudoku, etc. We had a pretty significant pile of older board games including Risk, Boggle, Scattergories, Balderdash, Yahtzee… the list goes on and on if I think about it.

I was going to take this somewhere else, getting into my own gaming obsessions (which started very early on), but I think I’ve solved my opening problem: I start with my mom.


My one big gaming influence is Civilization—the computer version, not the tabletop one. Years and years ago, I played it till my eyes were physically raw. Twice. Then I uninstalled it, and since then I haven’t done any computer gaming, because it’s too compelling. That’s a negative influence, to be sure, but it HAS changed my behavior and my preferences.


Tricky, this. I think for games in my family, besides the odd game of Monopoly (which nearly always my father won), we mostly played Trivial Pursuit. General knowledge is a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me, I love a quizz, and I am quite decent at them.

Other than that, Hero Quest, Inkognito, Escape from Atlantis and Risk were my main board games when I was a kid in the 80s, playing occasionally with my brother (who is 12 years my eldest) and friends from school. Then I got Advanced Hero Quest and Space Crusade in the early 90s and that was mainly solo playing.

I went through mainly videogames in Uni (second half of the 90s) and that was mostly Playstation. FFVII, Tenchu, or Metal Gear Solid were my favourites. Then when I moved to the UK I started playing more computer games, and mostly Total War games, the odd Civilisation game, and Crusader Kings 2 have been the core of my computer play, spiced up with Mass Effect, Oblivion and Skyrim on the Playstation.

So a bit of everything, like my collection. It has been nearly 2 years since I started going to our local Board game Guild, I am still a bit of a newbie, and it shows. Lately after every game of Splendor my OH beats me up at, she says that I suffer from lack of middle and long game strategy. I think she is bang on. I am more for the experience than the win, and often my strategy shows, I focus more on the nearby target than the long game winning tactics.


Early boardgaming, let’s see. Monopoly was never a big thing; we did have, for reasons I don’t know, Scoop, and what I think may have been Cargoes. But I got into RPGs in the early 1980s and really did boardgaming only as an ancillary activity to that. I have a memory of being surprisingly good at Mertwig’s Maze.

Then I got back into boardgames via demoing for SJGames. But I’m not at all sure any of those early games is really much of an influence, apart from a vague desire to design a pick-up-and-deliver game that’s mostly about the picking up and delivering.

One big influence on my modern boardgaming is Firefly - like Chewy77, I’m there for the experience.


I wanted to give a big nod to Mindtrap, not least of all because it’s amazing, but because it normalized the “format” of just hanging out while playing a game. Seems like a trifle, but for a group of dirtbag skater teens generally more interested in being dirtbag skater teens, routinely hanging out in my friend’s basement and just kind of thinking together was pretty unexpected behaviour.

Anyway, to the point, the end-of-week chillouts at my friend’s place became ritual, and eventually set the stage for my friend to introduce us all to AD&D. The rest was a long snowball from there.


Besides the usual suspects of Chess, Nine Man’s Morris (Mühle), Skat, Back Gammon, Scrabble and the obligatory “Spielesammlung” … a lot of the “notable” games that I grew up with were nominees of Spiel des Jahres. The first I remember is Sagaland. But looking through older winners and nominees I realize I played so many of those: Rummikub, Hase und Igel, Dampfross, Rubik’s Cube was given the only ever solo-gaming award in 1980, Scotland Yard, Heimlich & Co (probably the first Wolfgang Kramer game I owned–not anymore though I am tempted to buy a new edition), Barbarossa (Klaus Teuber made other stuff before Catan), Auf Achse (another Kramer).

It is quite interesting that the year we got our first PC (1990 I think) is the one where I do not recognize a lot of games from the nominations list. It is the year my parents stopped buying boardgames for us for Christmas. Instead we got California Games and Leisure Suit Larry.

Another big influence from my early years was my discovery of the “Choose your own adventures stories” being discussed elsewhere. I found a few at the local library and it was a quest of at least a decade (or longer) to find the games I really wanted… A first step was playing Clouds of Xeen (I just learned this was one of the first open world computer rpgs) in 1993/94, but it took me another 2 years to stumble across some pen&paper players at university.

At university I also encountered another major influence on my current gaming: Magic The Gathering. I do not know what I spent more money on RPG books or Magic cards? The combo-tastic, skirmish nature of magic and the deck construction will forever be something I enjoy. Also how incredibly portable is a Magic deck? It fits into any jacket pocket and with sleeves you could play on a sticky pub table or during a lecture. Perfect for university students who were always on the move…

We played a lot of boardgames but for nearly a decade I played mostly RPGs and Magic. Still I went to SPIEL a couple of times even in those years.

I really only got back to boardgames when the time/money availability switched from more time to more money. (Does that mean that RPGs and Magic are cheaper than boardgames? I don’t think it does… but boardgames definitely take up less time)

And I would say that I would call boardgames an actual hobby… maybe for the past 5-6 years when our Spiel visits were something I started prepping for.


If we’re looking as far back as childhood, I should talk about the Map Game. This is a game that starts by drawing a map of one or several large islands or small continents. Each player, in turn, draws roughly circular or elliptical boundaries enclosing an area of a certain size, which represents a colony. As the game progresses, new colonies are set up, usually adjacent to existing ones, but it’s possible to set up remote ones upriver from existing ones. The ability to do so is paid for with a budget equal to the number of colonies in being at the start of the previous turn. Budget can also be spent on certain types of improvements (I think canals were one of them) or on attempting to conquer another player’s colony that’s adjacent to one’s own. I don’t remember the formal victory conditions, if there were any.

I made this up in my teens, in the mid-1960s, and played it with my sister and a friend of ours. I had never heard of wargaming at the time. Regrettably, I no longer remember the details of how it was played.


Apart from the earliest boardgames I played (which came from my parents / grandparents: Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Cluedo, Chess, Othello) I had a lot of games that were popular in the 80s in the UK: Connect 4, Hungry Hippos, Guess Who?, Stratego.

Heroquest and Advanced Heroquest DEFINITELY made me into a dungeon crawl fan. Amiga games added to that, like “Eye of the Beholder” 1+2. And those completely explain why I have Gloomhaven:Jaws of the Lion, LotR:Journeys in Middle Earth and even Eldritch Horror.

But as for the others being “influences”, my current shelf is full of
worker placement (Everdell, Viticulture)
push your luck (Quacks, Parks maybe),
set collection (Kanagawa, Canvas, Herbaceous, Azul: Summer Pavilion) and
detective games (SHConsultingDet, CoCrime1400).

I don’t think ANY of those were the kind of thing you got from Milton Bradley in the 80s. The closest would probably be Santorini as a 2-player head-to-head on a square board with some simple rules and a lot of plastic :slight_smile:

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So was your next step war games then? How did you go from drawing on a map to RPGs(1)? I imagine discovering those at some point was a revelation back then as much as it was for me in the 90s.

(1) for me RPGs without any other qualifier always refers to pen & paper roleplaying games (or TTRPGs as I see often now) not the computer variant even though I personally first encountered computer rpgs.

It was a rather slow process. When I was at UC San Diego, in the very early 1970s, one of my friends introduced me to the Triton Wargaming Society, where I learned about various wargames and other board games. Then, around 1975, I went to my first science fiction convention, and happened to walk into a room where a group of people were playing original D&D; I got the DM’s name and phone number and got in touch with him a week or two after the convention. At that time, of course, there were no computer RPGs and few computer games, though early generation video games were becoming commercially viable.


I’m enjoying this thread, so I feel maybe I should contribute, but I’m not sure what I have to add.

I guess I’ve always enjoyed games. Some memories: I used to play L’Attaque with my grandfather, and lots of family card games. Racing Demon was a bit of a staple for a while. It’s perfect for large aggressive families, and my own children have inherited an appreciation of it.

We got a ZX Spectrum as fairly early adopters (1982 or 1983), and I remember Head Over Heels being the absolute pinnacle of computer games [Aside, I still can’t quite believe what was achieved in the 80s with 48k of RAM]. But computer gaming has always been like puzzle-solving (I’m actually more of a crossword geek than board game geek), and I’m old enough that I missed out on online multiplayer gaming, so I still see computer games (including chess) as primarily me vs a puzzle. I increasingly see board games as primarily a social interaction.

Hence I enjoy games with high player counts that allow negotiation, ganging up, entertainingly memorable unfairnesses… and generally do more than determine who is the ‘best’ at the game. The two games that came out recently(ish) that I haven’t played but have got my attention are Sidereal Confluence and Nemesis. One for the negotiation (and for being more or less its own genre, which is a plus) and the other for the chaos. So maybe family Racing Demon is really my most enduring gaming influence.


That was ace! My brother had an MSX, and he had that game, although he played the Batman version more (from the same programmers? They looked very similar). Wouldn’t mind having a go at that now, although I remember them being really tricky games.

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This is going to sound like a cop-out, but my gaming preferences are heavily driven by my lifelong love of playing cards. Part of that is due to the games I played when I was younger (my swim team’s go-to game at meets was Egyptian Ratscrew), but I’ve also just been obsessed with cards. I was really into card magic and cardistry as a kid, I wanted to be a blackjack dealer when I was in middle school, and even into college I was really interested in the history of playing cards all over the world. I would frequent Pagat.com in my free time and pore over all the different kinds of games that were played, teaching myself a wealth of trick-taking and shedding and beating games, with French and Swiss and Italian decks, that I would never play with anyone because I didn’t have any friends. I even started getting into cartomancy and tarot card reading, just because the dense history of it fascinated me.

Nowadays, if a board game doesn’t involve holding and playing with a semi-hefty hand of cards, or if the cardplay is secondary to some token- or miniature-fiddling, I’m immediately less excited by it. In fact, I think the only game I currently love that isn’t a card game is Istanbul, and that was my first foray into the board gaming hobby; my other favorites are anywhere between 80-100 percent cards. It’s so severe that when I design a game for one of the BGG design contests, I pretty much refuse to include any components other than cards. The act of shuffling a deck, drawing a hand, and playing a card is by a wide margin the greatest tactile feeling in board games for me.


This is correct!

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It’s the best game, but somehow it doesn’t have any artwork worthy of a Discourse avatar. For that you need the genius of Matthew Smith, who created Miner Willy. I still know his phone number* (6031769) which was the infinite lives cheat code for Manic Miner. And I don’t even know my own mobile number.

* Wikipedia says it’s from his driving licence number, but I’m sticking with my story.


Computer game influences…

Élite (original 1984 BBC Micro version obviously) probably helped sustain my enthusiasm for the Travellerish space trading model.
Carrier Command (1988, early RTS) made it clear to me that I enjoyed the production queue management much more than the actual fighting. Pity really that it starts you with a full load of everything, so what you actually want to do is go straight for the enemy rather than building up your replenishment economy. I played it through again a few years ago on DOSBox and still enjoyed it.
The Sims 2 (2004) (happened to be the one that was out when I was interested): while the narrative support is very basic, it’s something verging on a solo RPG (for me, much closer to that idea than “go down a dungeon and hit things”).

These are also how I discovered how to recognise when I’m getting addicted to something. If I have to say to myself “all right, finish this boring thing first, then you can do the other thing for half an hour” that’s a dead giveaway.


I think the earliest computer game I remember playing is superfly.

After that, I’ve mostly played Sim, turn-based, and real-time strategy games. I believe I have played all of the Civ games, and have lost an enormous amount of time to Theme Park, Sim City, Theme Hospital, the Sims… etc.

Thinking on it, I’ve also leaned towards puzzly and deduction-based games. Lots of point, and click adventures with a side order of The Incredible Machine. I’ve never been much into combat-based games, which is also reflected in my board gaming habits. I think the main difference between my computer and board game preferences is the importance of narrative. I can really get into the story of a video game, but find it almost completely unnecessary in board games.


I’m not sure if any computer/video games from my childhood inspired my boardgaming preferences - although such games were a different animal altogether in the 1980s. Sure, the text based rpgs of The Hobbit and Valhalla were fun - Mary was rarely amused by my choices! - and titles like Atic Atac and Gauntlet may have helped get me into rpgs-in-a-box although no more so than boardgames I was playing around then.

Thinking back on early boardgames though there is more of a heritage. Combining Scotland Yard and Game of Dracula, possibly with a bit of Talisman thrown in, leads nicely into The Fury of Dracula. My Dad was a regular boardgamer in his childhood too and used to play Avalon Hill wargames like Gettysburg and Blitzkrieg by post with his uncle before I was born so that led me to dabble in some more complex games then, although I prefered easier titles he owned like Mine a Million, leading to an interest in some economic games, and Exploration, which also had some rpg elements.

One title a family friend had which my brother and I loved playing was Survive (possibly before it was called/subtitled Escape from Atlantis) and I’ll probably rebuy that soon with the expansions so I can try it with five social gamer friends this year. By the mid 80s though like almost all UK gamers I was loving D&D, trying other RPGs as they sprung up and also delving deep into the many Games Workshop boardgame, wargame and miniatures titles. Even if they weren’t always that great or enjoyable, the pleasure of opening a big GW game box and looking at the minis, card templates and counters while trying to learn the rules with a few friends was a wonderful experience.


I want to note–as many of you seem to think I asked only for computer game influences… quite the contrary. Anything that influenced your gaming… early childhood habits, people you met. Whatever you think defined the way you play games today. (I just gave an example that involved a computer game…)

I have been gaming in one form or another for pretty much all my life.

As a kid, I played games with my parents and grandma. Yahtzee, Uno, Aggravation, Clue, Go Fish, etc. I also had an Atari 2600, so had exposure to video games at an early age as well. Won a Nintendo in 4th grade at a school raffle, which widened my video gaming horizons. In 6th grade, was introduced to the Top Secret S.I. RPG, which was my first intro to pen and paper RPG’s, though it was only after I purchased the books for it myself that I learned that we had been playing it completely wrong.

The same friend who taught us Top Secret unwillingly ran us through a quick D&D game (just threw us up against a green dragon to kill us because he didn’t really want to play D&D), which was still enough to hook me and one other friend on the fantasy theme, and the two of us would run games for each other for the next few years, moving on to AD&D 2nd after a short while. He also got Hero Quest at some point, which we played pretty often together.

Around this time, Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars trilogy came out, which rekindled a love of Star Wars for me, so I also got into West End Games’ Star Wars RPG, which I played with the same friend who got into D&D with me.

Board gaming did not really expand until high school, as my school had a gaming club. The teacher who ran it had a huge cabinet full of games I had never heard of. Axis & Allies, Fortress America, Shogun, Fury of Dracula (1st ed), Buck Rogers Battle for the 25th Century, Nuclear War, Quest for the Magic Ring, Space Hulk, Awful Green Things from Outer Space, Battle Masters, Kingmaker, Diplomacy, Talisman, the Dragonlance board game, and what felt like countless others. More importantly, I found more friends who were interested in the same things I was through this club. The teacher would organize a couple of trips per year to the vendor halls at Strategicon, which was always fun, and how I was the first of us to pick up Magic the Gathering, which became a big thing for the club. I branched out into a couple of other CCG’s as well over the high school years, which some people joined in with me.

High school is also when I got my first computer, and was thus introduced to a much broader scope of video games. X-Wing was one of my first games, and it was so fun to be able to engage in the SW universe in this new fashion. But also got to play new styles of games that Nintendo (and Super Nintendo, by that point) didn’t really offer. Strategy games like Warcraft, the old TSR/SSI RPG games, space flight sims, first person shooters, etc.

Gaming interests continued to evolve as I went to college, encountered more RPG’s mostly in the World of Darkness line, and more video games as Playstation was released. Also learned Star Fleet Battles and some other games I was not familiar with. After college was a bit of a gaming hiatus outside of video games, as the friends I hung around with then weren’t really gamers of any stripe. It was only when I reconnected with a few of my gaming friends who were in the area a couple of years later that I resumed role playing and board gaming.

So due to my wide exposure to games, overall I’m pretty open to any kind of game and in any format. There are games that have lost their shine over time, but that I’d still play if asked (Munchkin, for instance), and there are certainly types of video games that don’t really interest me at all (sports games, mostly), but in general I’m happy to play anything.