Sunday 13 December 2009

The Golden Age of Gaming

This post is inspired directly from an article in the gaming magazine Flagship (Issue 128) written by Shannon Appelcline. She asked when was your Golden Age... and have you had more than one?

"The Golden Age of Science Fiction is twelve" this doesn't mean the age 12 specifically but rather describes the age at which the author of that quote (David Hartwell) first encountered Sci-Fi. This idea of the Golden Age neatly encapsulates the sense of wonder and excitement we have when we encounter something for the first time. In future years we invariably look back at this time through rose tinted glasses. With each passing year the mythical proportions of this time grow and settle deeper into our consciousness. That's why our childhood is always described as the "Best Years of our Lives", even if they were actually horrible... given enough time they really do become the best years.

My Golden Age of D&D would be 14 and is forever 1983. This was when I encountered D&D (in the Red Box) for the first time. I'd discovered the Fighting Fantasy books a few months earlier and it was a small step for my friends and I to progress to a proper roleplaying game. Our first ever game will always stick in my mind, especially the moment when my character (a Barbarian that bore a not unsurprising resemblance to Conan) killed the Carrion Crawler outside the dungeon entrance. To quote John Kovalic, "I THACO'ed and I liked it!"

Of course before D&D I had a different Golden Age and it was my discovery of the so called 'Pulp' writers of the 1920's and 30's such as Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. I was about 12 (so this is 1981) and I had discovered the Fantasy or Sword & Sorcery genre. Some of the forewords in the books I read mentioned other authors and the magazines they write for such as Weird Tales and Amazing Stories. It didn't take long before I encountered the Cthulhu Mythos and the works of writers like H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch and August Derleth. Ironically It was my love of these so called 'Pulp' authors that lead me to the more scholarly work of Tolkien and

Going back still further (way back to 1977) was my Golden Age of Science Fiction. This was the time when I - and pretty much every kid my age - was transfixed by films like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In fact I'd suggest I've actually had two golden ages of Sci-Fi, the first in the Movies and the second many years later in the printed works of Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov. I still love Sci-Fi but nothing will ever match the moment I first saw a huge Star Destroyer gliding onto the screen and first heard the music of John Williams.

I've been lucky to have several Golden Ages covering a wide range of genre's, and each will remain special to me. They shaped me into the Gamer I am today and for that I will be ever grateful. So what is your Golden Age and have you, like me, had more than one?


  1. I started back in 72 or 73 (how long ago is that).

    First would be Airfix models leading to WW2 games - cannot remember the rules but they had a sand coloured cover.
    Then Tolkien - SELWG rules (still have a copy)
    Then D&D through the white box - specifically (brag warning) the second copy imported by a little known games company called Games Workshop who kept the first.
    Scifi came around the same time - No idea who I first read but would think it was EE Doc Smith or Henlein or Asimov
    Games would have been Traveller rather than ships though we did try ship combat (vector math anyone).

    After that the biggest game set (following and literally) would be Star Fleet Battles - had the lot of rules with the majority being shipped from the US as it was not stocked here. You needed two thick ring binders by the time the basic rules where in sleeves and as for the Captains Logs - two bags held them...

  2. My Golden Age of Sci-Fi would have to be my whole life I think. I was born in 1984 so was fortunate enough to experience Ghostbusters, Transformers etc which laid the ground work for when I got a bit older. I grew up with my step-Father indoctrinating me with Star Trek TOS and the old Thunderbirds etc, and any old re-runs from when he was a kid. I've never delved into it with the obsessivness I get with other things, but I've had a steady trickle of sci-fi input throughout my life.

    My Golden Age of Gaming would have to be the present time. I first got into game books and Warhammer Quest when I was in primary school. I never got into pen and paper roleplaying though, it's just something that never took. During my secondary years I was a fan of Warhammer 40,000 but I stopped collecting on account of being poor :P. The last 4 years or so have been great though. Still relatively poor, being a student, but I can still get my fix of models and gaming! I was a bit disillusioned with GW around 12 months ago, but the last 2 months have been a bit of a resurgence for me.

  3. A great post - thanks.

    For me I had always been involved with model making - my Grandfather, my Father and my Uncle, so making Airfix models or carving Balsawood into gliders.

    Then involved with a wargame club in Swansea University (Not as a student - but as a pimple faced teenager, as my father worked at the Uni.) where plastic Airfix American Civil War toy soldiers fought over green sheets with chalk roads and buildings made from beermats. I still look back with 'glassy eyes!

    Then discovering D&D, painting Dwarves and Elves (a school fried - who was a great painter had some very early LOTR figures, very coarse detail, but they must be worth a fortune now!)

    From there I have modeled, painted soldiers or gamed ever since. I wonder how I would have turned out if I'd taken a different hobby?


  4. Great read. I can't pinpoint my golden age, though I distinctly remember my first contact with D&D, Star Wars, and gaming. I found board war games (Risk and the like) with my cousin and we often played our own variant of Victory in the Pacific.

    On to the various MB Gamemaster games, then my first foray into D&D. THAT was a golden time, playing weekly, character development, questing endlessly. I sometime long for a good campaign...

    Into college when I found the great empire and spent many a dollar on minis before loading bookshel es with games of all sorts, air combat, space combat, naval combat, and on and on.

    FOW and finally getting good at mini painting came next. Somewhere in there I was introduced to PBEM games and still wait anxiously for every round of Subs Ahoy!.

    Tanks for the memories!


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