Before I get into shelling out opinions, rants and more, perhaps it is best to give a little history about myself.
I'm a game player. My Dad taught me how to play chess as a youngster and I quickly moved on to Risk, Monopoly, Civilization (the board game), Dark Tower, and anything else I could get my hands on. I played soccer as a teenager, enjoy ping-pong, bowling, basketball, tennis, laser tag, frisbee golf (but not regular golf) and other such activities.
My introduction to the world of computer games came when I received a Commodore 64 for my birthday one year. Even though I only had a tape drive at first, and had to laboriously hand-type in code from magazines. Eventually I moved onto PCs and the riches that awaited there: Doom, Civ, Duke Nukem, Master of Orion, Warcraft, and many, many more. Then, one fateful day in 1997, I stumbled across a website that mentioned an upcoming game called Ultima Online. I was astounded. I had loved all of the Ultima games so I quickly found their website, signed up for the beta test (which cost $5 for the CD) and eagerly soaked up all available information about it that I could find. I participated in the beta test, bought the game when it came out, adventured about Brittania and eventually joined up with a little roleplaying guild called Shadowclan.
From that point on became an MMO junky, spending countless hours inside the worlds of UO, Asheron's Call (beta test), Shadowbane (beta and after release), World of Warcraft and several smaller MMOs. I still play plenty of desktop games (Civ IV, Galactic Civilizations II, Dwarf Fortress, to name a few), but the online worlds are where my main interests lie.
In addition to participating in numerous beta tests, I've also worked for the gaming industry as a paid employee. I spent a year and a half at Origin Systems, doing QA for Ultima Online (which rocked), and a few months last summer/fall working at Sony as a mindless button monkey (which sucked).
So there you have it. On to the gaming talk!