I got my first Dungeons & Dragons set — red box, if I recall correctly — in 1977 or 1978. I was on a fantasy kick about that time, and it looked fun. I didn’t know what a role playing game was, and there weren’t a lot of people who played them, but I was able to find  few folks here and there to try it out. I was hooked instantly. By high school, I had a regular group that played RPGs and board games. D&DTop SecretGamma WorldStar Frontiers, Gangbusters…we tried all of TSRs stuff. But Traveller was our go-to sci-fi game, and James Bond: 007 quickly took over as our main game.

With few exceptions, I was usually the one to run games in my groups. We had the occasional replacement GM, but it usually fell to me. Only in college did I get a regular break from GMing, and by that time, it was what I preferred. I like to play, but for me, it’s really about running games, now.

What do I love about them? Firstly, the ability to leave your life behind for a while — like with a good movie or book, except you have the ability to affect the course of the story. When I was a kid, my life made escapism was a necessity.

Secondly, I love telling stories. Everything I’ve tended to gravitate toward as a hobby or profession is linked to storytelling, or was influenced by the games I liked to play. I teach history. Why? — telling stories. I specialized in 19th Century Imperialism because of Space: 1889, then swapped to Modern American history because of Hollow Earth Expedition. I went into intelligence for a while — because of James Bond. (Who didn’t, really?)

Thirdly, it gave me friends, some of which I still have. I haven’t seen the high school gaming crew, but I can talk to them on Facebook from time to time, and something from the games might come up. I still have friends from college or the military — they are all gaming buddies. We’ve gone to each others’ weddings, watched each others’ kids.

And if you stay away from the miniature heavy games, the amount of time you spend enjoying them is the best bang for your buck.