Inspired by the latest episode of the Jank Cast, I thought I'd post my own story about how I got into gaming and why I'm still playing today.
I'd known about games like Dungeons & Dragons and Traveller in my childhood (without really understanding what they were) from playing computer games such as Westwood Studios' Eye of the Beholder and Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon, and Paragon Software's Megatraveller 1: The Zhodani Conspiracy on my brother's old Commodore Amiga. In my late teens, with the internet at my disposal, I stumbled across sourcebooks for tabletop roleplaying games (like GURPS: Time Travel), and I was intrigued by them, but had no idea how to actually get into the hobby. The closest I could get was various systemless play by post roleplaying games.
It wasn't until I joined the Glasgow Anime society shortly after high school that I met and befriended someone who actually knew about and played tabletop RPGs. He explained the hobby to me, introduced me to the friendly local gaming store (where I bought both Big Eyes Small Mouth and Rifts as my first ever RPGs) and even promised to run a Buffy game for me at some point. He kept promising to run something for a few months or maybe a year (I honestly can't say how long) until I finally got sick of waiting.
Having discovered SURGe (Strathclyde University Roleplaying, Games, etc) on the internet, I arranged to go in and check it out. My first day there, we started off played some board games - I can't remember which, but it was the first time I played a board game that was anything other than the traditional family games like Cluedo or Monopoly - and then, as luck would have it, one of the GMs ran character creation for a BESM game loosely based on the anime series Grenadier. The next week we played the first session.
Looking back, I was a pretty terrible roleplayer then. My character was a stereotypical avenger with dead parent issues and a reckless streak which almost got him killed in the very first session. All the same, I had a lot of fun. I'd always been a creative sort, enjoying acting in school plays and (halfway through high school) writing my own stories. Roleplaying was just like that, except I didn't need to learn any lines and I never knew what was going to happen in any session until it happened which made it even more fun.
It goes without saying that I still enjoy it to this day, for mostly the same reasons I enjoyed it starting out. I love the creative fun of creating a character, stepping into a persona that is different from my own and exploring fantastical worlds through those characters. I also enjoy the shared journey of building a story with my fellow players and GM. At it's best, it's almost like being an active participant in the events of a good TV series or novel. I've also found it to be, from time to time, more of a cathartic experience than playing videogames.
These days it's more the shared storytelling aspect of roleplaying that I enjoy than the actorly side of things (though that is still fun, as well), which is probably because I tend to run games more often than I play them myself. Still, I don't see myself getting bored with the hobby anytime soon, and I'm looking forward to seeing who I'll end up playing and what stories I'll be part of creating for at least the next five or ten years.