I have been a gamer ever since eyeing arcade machines when I was too much of a rugrat to adequately reach all the buttons on the console. Seeing Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Duck Hunt play out on arcade machines is my first memory of video games. I grew up in the 80s, born in the 70s. I had a Pac-Man sleeping bag, there is a photo album chronicling my attempts to blow out candles on a Pac-Man shaped birthday cake somewhere at my parents' place, and I distinctly remember eating all the ghost marshmallows from a box of Pac-Man cereal while watching a broadcast of The Blob.
My first home console was the Atari 400. I loved it. It represented my first real hands-on with Ms. Pac-Man, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Deluxe Space Invaders, Q*Bert, and Gorf. If you have never heard of Gorf, check it out. It is a real retro gem that is dangerously close to being lost in the sands of time. The Atari 400 was also my first taste of programming. It came with a thick book teaching you to do simple programs (like Guess-My-Number) and a programming cartridge. I didn't have the ability to save any of the programs I wrote (or stories I would write using Atari 400's built-in notepad function when a cartridge wasn't in the system), so I had some of the basic programming line items memorized after awhile. If it wasn't for my first console, I doubt I would have ever taken up HTML, PHP, or Excel programming classes in college.
Then I got a NES a few years later for Christmas. There was no looking back...or, at least, not until I became the old sentimental man that I am today. My first NES came with Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and a bright orange light gun. I. Played. It. To. Death. Almost to death, anyway. I still have it, but I have since had to swap out its pins so it could start playing games again. I have a couple other NES consoles I keep around for spare parts. My NES collection as a kid wasn't very brag worthy. I had a few triple A titles like Dragon Warrior IV, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Most of my collection, however, were from the bargin bin: Yo! Noid (that came with expired pizza coupons), Back to the Future II & III (easily the worst NES game I had), Knight Rider, and the like. Renting games on the weekend was more my speed. We had a local appliance store that had a movie and game rental section. The best part was that they were closed every Saturday and Sunday, and for a week over the Christmas season. That meant any next-day rentals weren't due until their next business day. Luckily, they didn't think of a drop box system.
After the NES, I took a bit of a gaming break. While I played the SNES at friend's houses from time to time, I had convinced myself that I was too cool for gaming. Silly me. I took back up the habit in college with the release of the N64. Got it with Mario Kart 64, and built some good memories playing that system. It should be noted that my roommate at the time had a SNES still, and we would settle apartment disputes (who bought the milk seemed very important) with rounds of Super Mario Kart. I am proud to say that I often got my way with that set up.
The Playstation 2 was my first DVD player, and I got it right after moving to California, where I would meet my now wife. I have many found memories staying up all night with her as we played through Final Fantasy X. We would later move to Southern California where we would burn WAY too many hours playing Dragon Quest VIII, and getting very competitive (with each other and "randoms" online) in the combat racing game, Jak X. It was with this latter game that Gunslingers first appeared. The game had in-game clan features and I registered Gunslingers within it. We did really well. We ranked in the top 10 for North America.
But playing competitively wasn't my style. It didn't feel like a good fit. What I really enjoyed about gaming was the social aspects of it. Playing it locally with friends. Building memories with a significant other. Making new friends I would never have had if it wasn't for online servers. Those were the goals I wanted to achieve with a Gunslingers gaming group.
Here is where I need to make a confession. I love the television show Cheers. No, I mean I really love it. It is easily my favorite sitcom of all time. I wanted Gunslingers to be Cheers. I wanted a member who has taken the time to get to know everyone to log into chat and everyone else yell his/her name. I wanted to form a group of wildly different personalities to have some good times with good drinks together. I wanted a group of gamers who kept showing up not because we had some grinding clan practice scheduled, but because our group was the collective meeting place to escape after a hard day's work. Our oasis. Our Cheers.
I dare say in the 11 years we have been a gaming group we are that group.