Mark, recently posted a piece on early Runequest so I thought I’d add some thoughts as how I got into the hobby. Back in 1977 I joined King John School, Essex which had a games club run by a Mr Eagle. The original early games that I remember being involved in were war games, most notably, MTB, and early WRG WW2 rules using 1/300th micro tanks, Modern British vs Russian 1/300th armour (no idea where they went), and Skytrex WW1 and WW2 aerial (again just where did those aircraft go?).
In the early eighties I attended a few Games Fairs at the Royal Horticultural Hall and that was where I purchased the new advanced dungeons and dragons players hand book (PHB). I spent a lot of time playing the flying Buffalo Tunnels and Trolls solo dungeons and of course the fantasy trip (the original GURPS) which we used more for gladiatorial combat than anything else. Black box traveller (just after Star Wars had come out) and gamma world followed as Christmas presents. I did have Runequest but it did not have the same impact on me as Mark. Most of the games bought back then were ordered sight unseen via mail order after several days of nagging my mum to write me a check. These included, FGU’s Space Opera and Bushido
For me the game that changed the way we played was the original Call of Cthulhu which if I remember correctly cost me £18.95, back at a time when you could buy a pint, pack of crisps and still have change from a £1. However during this time the big game was really DnD with a lot of campaigns being run but actually few of the published scenarios, usually the games were home brewed scenarios or cribbed from the latest white dwarfs.
Notable games released during this period when I was buying (and reading) a system a month and on occasion one time playing 1-2 times/week including long sessions on Sundays were Skyrealms of Jorune, Pendragon, Ars Magica Talistanta, Castle Falkenstein, Cyberpunk, Amber rpg and Vampire the Masquerade. I attended Euro Gen Con at Camber Sands and Loughborough and Reading Games Fair running a few games including the then innovative diceless Amber rpg.
At college I played with a few friends once or twice a week but the gaming changed when I went to university where my gaming dropped off a bit despite being an irregular member of the university club with occasional games back home.
While living in Reading I ran some long DnD (2nd Edition) and WHFRP (Shadows over Bogenhaven) campaigns plus the occasional mega traveller and Paranoia. Then I returned back to Essex and rejoined the group that I had played with on and off for some 10-20 years and have played Shadowrun, Earthdawn, Wheel Of Time, DnD (3rd Edition), Call of Cthulhu and now Rogue Trader (40k). More recently I tend to buy perhaps 1 or 2 rpgs/year (rather than a month) with recent purchases being DnD 4th edition, Aces and Eights and Trail of Cthulhu, D20 Modern, D20 Call Of Cthulhu and Hunter the reckoning, none of which I have run to date.
I still try to meet up for a game weekly although real life often gets in the way (for me or the others) and when we do get together we play a few board games as well as mixing up some rpg, such as Rogue Trader (40k), DnD (4th edition) Dark Sun and some Space 1889.