How did Steve become the gamer we all know and love now?
Many years ago, before my age even reached double digits, I had a friend whose uncle owned some first edition Dungeons & Dragons manuals. Through these menus along with some pewter figures, my young friend and I were introduced to our first adventures of sword and sorcery. I instantly developed a lifelong love of the fantasy genre and role-playing. For months our base of operations was the city of Deadwood, from which we would launch campaigns against goblins, orcs, skeletons and demons, eventually attempting to hunt the demon prince Orcus! Then we learned a lesson in overconfidence when our party fell to his power.
While still a preteen, I would move on to try some classic board games like Talisman and Risk. At this age, I was also discovering role-playing video games on Nintendo like Zelda, Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior. Through much of junior high and high school, I let my table top playing fall away.
Later, when I started university, my love of D&D was rekindled with a friend John, introducing me to the second edition and the world of Ravenloft. Soon after this, some more friends introduced me to Magic the Gathering. There was no turning back, as I would go on shortly to begin working at the United Bookstore, which we would eventually buy out to create Heroes’ Beacon. While working I would discover countless games, trying out numerous new collectible card games, board games role-playing games even live action versions of the World of Darkness. These games have helped me meet some of the best friends a person could ever have, especially important was meeting my wife during live action Vampire the Masquerade.
These games have brought me thirty years of joy and continue to do so. Now it is my pleasure to bring these games to new friends and customers at Heroes’ Beacon.
I was into video games and comics before I even knew what a Role Playing Game was. The first thing that sparked my interest towards Role Playing Games was the board game Hero Quest, where you played as a classic hero (dwarf, fighter, mage, rogue) delving into a dungeon to fight monsters and gain treasure. The board was modular and one person played as the Dungeon Master, much the same way Descent is played.
One summer a couple of friends; Jared and Comeau wanted to try playing an RPG. Jared had played with another group of friends and thought we would enjoy it. He introduced us to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Robotech, and Ninjas & Superspies all by Palladium Books. I loved the freedom and creativity of the worlds even if the rules did take a while to get used to. To this day I don’t think we play Palladium games right.
That same summer we tried Advanced D&D, Rifts, and a host of other RPGs. The entire summer we would play from early morning till supper time and then come back after until late at night. Many weekends were spent doing marathons of gaming as we introduced other friends to the hobby and explored new worlds.
Over the years I think I’ve played almost ever RPG out there often returning to the old favorites like D&D and Rifts. After High School I was introduced to Live Action Role Playing, once again by Jared and quickly took to that form of gaming as well and have been a member of a Global LARP community both playing and Storytelling since then.
Through my love of various games I’ve met some of the greatest people and almost all of my closest friends I have met through one gaming event or another from all over North America.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when I became a gamer. It depends on how you describe gamers and gaming. I can tell you that a great number of my friends were met through gaming and that I owe a great deal to video games, board games and role playing games of all kinds. Gaming was what introduced me to Steve, Chris and the rest of the crew here at Heroes Beacon.
I was a video gamer before I was a table top gamer or role-player. I was in love with Final Fantasy (excluding FF8 and anything above 11) and I spent hours and hours playing those games by myself and with friends I had in high school.
I was 14 I think the first time I tried table top role playing. I was house sitting for a cousin up the street and I had my sister and two of my best friends there with us. We wanted to role play but none of us knew how to do it really, but in the end, I ended up GMing a non-system game that ran for the better part of my high school career and often in 8+ hour runs. We would game from noon (when we woke up) to sun up the next day.
On one particular day, we would have a gaming marathon in my basement and the entire day, because we were too lazy to go and get another cassette tape- yup, it was that long ago- we listened to Fastball on repeat the entire day. And it was a long day because that particular album was only about 40 minutes long.
I was 15 or 16 the first time I was introduced to D&D- think it was 2nd edition. It was a horrible failure. Not one of us wanted to figure out the rules or take the time to convert the open system we were using into something with a structure, so we left it behind.
It was that same year I was introduced to the World of Darkness LARP through some friends who were playing in the school during lunch hour down by the pool. I joined them to play Vampire: The Masquerade. We were all too young to join the Camarilla (now Canada at Midnight), so we played amongst ourselves until we were old enough. And I did join and am still a member. And I met Greg, Chris and Steve through it. I have met so many people from different walks of life because of gaming.
And it was through that I was introduced to 3rd edition D&D and whatever edition of Shadowrun was around in 2002. I also tried GURPS and Big Eyes, Small Mouth, but D&D and LARP really stuck.
Long story short… I met all the friends I have today through gaming in one form or another. It’s allowed me to explore parts of myself I’m not sure I would have otherwise and I’m grateful for every minute I’ve played and that now we can share some of these games with our boy.
I left high school behind with very few close friends and headed off to University. I had a difficult time meeting new people. I was shy and very self-conscious and as a result seldom made effort to connect with anyone. Still, it was at University that I started to connect with new friends through a shared love of games.
If anyone went to the University of New Brunswick in Saint John sometime after 1995, you may recall that in the stairwell outside the cafeteria, there was an arcade machine. The game was “Killer Instinct” and on many occasion I played it along with a couple good friends of mine. I was pretty good. I did my best to master Fulgore, the robotic fighter, and tried to get onto the high score leaderboards. Try as I might though it was always the same Jago player that seemed to kick everyone’s butt. That Jago player was Steve Henderson and facing off against him at the arcade machine was always a good way to lose more than a few quarters.
Eventually we went from facing each other at an arcade machine to strategizing together around a mutual friend’s dining room table, throwing dice and playing Rifts, D&D, Palladium RPG, 7th Sea and a number of other games. Through these games I met more and more new people and through a shared interest in games I was able to make more new friends.
Years later, after finishing University, Steve and his girlfriend at the time invited me to join him for a LARP game. I had no in live action roleplaying games, but on one particular evening I could think of nothing better to do and joined him. The other gamers were friendly and quickly made me feel like a part of the group. It was there that I met both Chris Duffield and Tara Drost (now Henderson). I still remember the first time I was invited along for a bite to eat at the Diplomat after a game. It was nice to have people want to hang out with me and not feel like I was imposing or just tagging along.
Things continued to get better from there. Through a love of games and the people I’ve met, I’ve improved my self-confidence and met a great number of interesting people from a variety of different backgrounds – people I might never have met before.
I’ll hope to continue to play – and continue to connect with others – for some time to come.