I lay the blame for my fascination with gaming squarely at the feet of my father. He taught us to play games - everything from Risk and Chess to Bridge and Poker. Also, his mum should probably be marked as the one responsible for teaching us Blackjack at a very early age. More importantly, he taught us about game rules and how they should be respected and, after a lesson that didn't end too well for me, I saw the light.
Our visits to the local hobby shop would often result in us picking up new board games to play. Of course, one day Dad came back with the Basic boxed set of Dungeons & Dragons and we never really looked back. In fact, we used to tour around our friends' houses and introduce them to the escapist wonder to be found in trawling through an ancient temple in search of adventure.
By now my brother, father and I were all living in a very small space indeed. With space at a premium, we were together for a very large proportion of each day and so we had to find a lot of things to do together. This tended to involve games - either playing them or making them for each other to play. We'd cut up old cereal boxes to use the cardboard for pieces. We'd make elaborate boards and devise all sorts of rules for all sorts of games. The one we probably enjoyed the most was a cool, Wacky Racers style game with plenty of power ups and weapons but we also got into miniatures and devised our own tabletop wargame rules.
Then along came computers and I spent a disproportionate amount of time playing with them. Not my first computer, of course - that was a Texas Instruments TI994/A and about as much use as a chocolate teapot - but eventually I got on to the Spectrum train and was away. As much as I enjoyed playing the games, I also got a kick out of creating things on the computer. They weren't particularly good things as, it's fair to say, my programming skills were BASIC at best. Still, that's a lot better than could be said about the teachers at school and our Computer Literacy class would consist of my friend Scott and I briefing the teacher on what the lesson plan for that day actually meant before she'd bring the class in.
Scott is probably partly to blame for me ending up where I did as well. He'd already traded in the Spectrum for an Atari ST and we used to bunk off school to go and play Populous. Imagine his surprise when I phoned him up from the Bullfrog offices a couple of years later...
Joining Bullfrog was a real eye-opener. It was a really fun bunch of guys (strange, yes, but always fun) who just seemed to be messing around with games. But that was the trick. We used to have an adage -
"We make games we want to play"
and it just so happened that quite a lot of other people wanted to play them too, so it all worked out for the best. We never thought about marketing or monetisation or anything like that - we just put things into the game that we wanted to do. Most conversations were started with the phrase "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if..." and, more often than not, we'd try it out shortly afterwards.
Of course, things have moved on since them, but I'd still say there are two types of game developer out there. There are those that are in it to make money and there are those that are in it for the love of games. Me? I'm in the second camp but sometimes, just sometimes, they can be one and the same person.