My mother bought me the first D&D box set in 1980... I think, I can't remember precisely. I have no idea why she bought it. It probably had something to do with the books I was reading.... and maybe to get me involved with a group of others my age.
My brother and I and a couple friends opened the box and sat around reading it to each other. We were pretty sure we weren't doing it right.
We talked to our mother about it. She took us to the hobby store where she bought the game. (Come to think of it, what was she doing in a hobby store?) The guys there were more than happy to explain a few things to us. Dice rolling and encounter keys and so forth. That was when it hit us. This was like telling a story. Far out.
At heart, my brother wasn't really a nerd. He drifted off to other un-nerd like things. Myself and a good core group of friends played this D&D thing at my house on weekends. Then we graduated from high school and in 1985 I went off to the Navy.
It had never occurred to me that you could find people in the Navy who liked to play D&D. But you could, good ones too. Anywhere I went there they were. I do have to say that the Navy was a great place to meet people of all different kinds of temperaments and um..... various levels of emotional maturity. No, finding people to play the game was not the problem. Finding places in which to play it was more the tricky part. You couldn't have the place strewn with pizza boxes and Mountain Dew cans in the morning. That wouldn't fly and you would find yourselves looking for a new place to play and with a reputation preceding you to boot. I have a lot of good memories from that period. But I learned to never let a Texan order the pizza.
Over these years there had been a few other games I had tried; Paranoia, Traveler, Champions; but they weren't really my cup of burnt coffee.
After the Navy I came back to Oregon. All the guys I used to play with had scattered to the four winds. And anyway I became pretty focused at that point with just living, job, rent, you know, basic survival. So after a few years and getting together with a couple of high school friends, for the most part the only two that I really cared about.
These friends, and their friends eventually led me to be introduced to the World of Darkness system by White Wolf. Mage the Ascension was the game. I was completely hooked. The fact that I played spellcasters in D&D to the exclusion of any other classes made this pretty inevitable. But more than the "Magick" was the rules and the d10 successes and failures and botches. Time magick was my first shtick and man that was a trip.
We had a crazy game. We played mages, vampires and bête all together in one game. It was crazy and we made it work. We moved on to WoD 2.0 when WW did. And we're still doing it, only it's easier now.
Only within the past two years have I gotten back into D&D. Now there's 3.5 rules and combat that can actually involve strategy. And I play a wizard. Surprise!