My gaming life started when I got the red and blue D&D boxes for my 12th birthday. Not having a gaming group, I generally just played with my neighbor Mike. We would make adventures for each other, and take parties of player characters through them. Not much role-playing, but we still had fun.
When I started high school at 15, I met a new group of friends who introduced me to board games. This was a whole new world of games, far different from the Monopoly and Candy Land I'd played with my family. Fellow BGGers
I legally own hundreds of polyhedral assault dice!
showed me how cool board games could be. Titan, Illuminati, Grand Imperialism, Pax Britanica, Cosmic Wimpout, Machiavelli...a far cry from Hangman, indeed. I spent many a time, and dollar, at The Griffon Bookstore in South Bend, IN, picking up games and ziplock bags for chits. Once I got to college, and found 25th Century Five and Dime in Bloomington, IN, picking up Milton Bradley's Gamemaster series, a bunch of GW board games, and indy RPGs.
Eventually, once I was married, I learned about the new Magic: The Gathering, and got into it when Antiquities was still on the shelves. Most of my days were spent thinking about deck ideas. Boardgames were never out completely, but certainly took a back burner to Magic for a while. I tried out many of the CCGs that came out in Magic's aftermath. Eventually, HeroClix came along to take center stage.
I still play board games, introducing both of my kids to the hobby and cherishing my collection.
A NOTE ON MY TOP TEN LISTS: I realized that games have changed quite a bit since I started. I like a lot of the new stuff, but the old style games are still near and dear to my heart. To keep it fair, and a bit more accurate, I decided to keep two lists. My Top Ten list is for "classic" games, many of which would never wind up on Vassel's list or that many new Eurogamers have probably never heard of. The Hot Ten, then, is for my favorites that came out after 1990. I feel that this way, you can see where I came from and where I am now. I still consider Titan my favorite game of all time, but I think my family has played Bohnanza more than any other. My top ten lists aren't necessarily the games I feel are the best (Puerto Rico is brilliant, but I NEVER get to play it), but rather the games that hold the fondest memories and that I have the most fun with on a semi-regular basis.
I started keeping track of my plays in earnest on January 1, 2012. Smart phones make this sort of thing so much easier.