Where you’re from has an influence on your ideas and thoughts, that’s true for game design as well as everything else – not that it’s a hard and fast rule, everyone’s individual. I grew up in the kind of ‘idyllic’ British village that could pass for Hobbiton or Sandford. It’s a sleepy little valley, largely taken over by second homes and retirees. My family is one of the old village families (at least relatively speaking) and some of the few ‘natives’ left.
There’s copses on top of the chalk hills and after ploughing you can often find fossils, laid down in the Cretaceous era when all of this was under the sea. You can barely go a dozen paces without finding some remnant of paganism, neolithic, bronze age or iron age culture – there’s even a Museum of the Iron Age in the neighbouring town.
I used to sit up in the woods with a portable radio and listen to The Lord of the Rings on Radio 4 and these green and pleasant (but also spooky) surroundings have definitely shaped my imagination. Parts of a Roman Road also run through the village, and digging in the ground with sticks at the school we found Roman coins on more than one occasion.
I spent a few years living in Basingstoke, which is only almost as terrible as people make out and is much less of a brutalist concrete dystopia than it was in the eighties. It’s kind of shifted from Clockwork Orange to Mirror’s Edge, in terms of grim, dark futures. It wasn’t so bad really, most of my gaming groups were based in and around Basingstoke, as was our World of Darkness LARP group.
I’ve also spent an inordinate amount of time in London, so in some ways it’s like a second home to me, though I don’t go there half as much anymore, instead spending more time in Reading (which is kind of like a London overspill anyway).
Wherever I’ve been I’ve spent a great deal more time immersed in the science fiction of the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties – a golden era as far as I’m concerned! Or making worlds of my own for games and stories, even before I was working professionally.
Hooray for libraries.