Where to begin? My parents, though mostly my father, used to play boardgames with me and my siblings from a very young age. I quickly progressed from Candyland and Cootie to more advanced games such as Chess and Stratego. Along the way, my siblings sort of found other interests but I never gave up my passion for board games. I am not really an athletic type of person, so to me board games are my way to compete with others.
My grandparents loved playing cards, so whenever I went to visit them nights were usually spent playing Pitch or Hearts. It was then that I learned my grandfather's trademark smirk when he played the "perfectly timed" card that would result in his victory, or my grandmother's laugh when she managed to do something to disrupt his plans. I think it is because of those two that I enjoy playing games with direct and frequent player interaction and conflict.
Highschool was a time of two opposite gaming tendencies. Star Wars CCG had just come out and my mates and I invested heavily into this system. Today, it is still one of my top favorite games. Though I rarely get to play it, it still brings back memories of sitting around for hours constructing decks and reliving the SW movies (at least the good ones). At the same time, my "free thinking" school decided to offer alternative classes and one was titled "Axis and Allies," presumably to teach us about WWII history. This was a doorway to another dimension of gaming- wargaming, albeit on a smaller, simplistic scale. College was full of summers playing Risk, and a wonderful new game to my world, Diplomacy.
Rochester, NY (my hometown) used to have a store called Crazy Igors which sold just about any board game you could think of. In the days before EBay, it was the place to purchase games. I remember walking in and having my mind blown away by all the strange, wonderful, dusty old games. It was like the "wall of games" at Toys-R-Us from years past.
However, my primary hobby in life is Model Railroading, in all scales. I currently am committed to HO (1:87), N (1:160), G (1:16) and 1/8 scale, including construction of a fully operational steam locomotive. Miniature games look really cool but since I spend so much time building models already I don't want to invest in another hobby that is duplicative of the same. From a train website I heard about Samurai Swords/Shogun, and researching that led me to BGG in 2009. And what a ride it has been!
I mostly prefer co-op games or games with lots of player interaction. I will play Euros but generally don't want to take the time to fully maximize my move to gain me the most VPs. I love wargames and any game where I can amass a huge army and use it to strike fear in my opponents. Though I have a reputation as a "Back stabber" it isn't true... mostly!
In general, board games are an investment to me. Not one of money, though some will at least retain their value in the long term. No, they are an investment into happiness, friendship, good times, and some crazy parties.
My Top 10 games are my top 10 favorite games that I own. My Hot 10 games are the games I most wish to purchase (and may have already played before).