--- Gaming History
My family played games regularly when I was a child. They are all basic card games or roll&move type board games. Then...
Hex, Dominoes, and Mahjong (in middle school/high school)
Hearts, Skat, Doppelkopf and Go (in college)
Die Siedler von Catan and 18xx (after college)
In 1996, I played Die Siedler von Catan for the first time and it totally changed my gaming life. Gradually I collected and played a lot of German games.
--- Ideal games
The core system of the game should be simple and innovative. Clean design is always a plus --- I don't like many different special powers and special cards unless they are done extremely well. I like games with fair amount of player-interactions without having a personal attack mechanism. The length of the game should be proportional to the luck element of the game. I prefer short and middle weight games (45-60 minutes). I am a huge Knizia fan and I like 98% of his games.
--- Favorite mechanics
Auctions, Trading, Trick-Taking, Commodity Speculations, 2-player Abstracts
--- Least favorite mechanics
Action-points, Worker Placements, Pick up and deliver, Dice-fest.