I first encountered role playing games one summer at camp, at around age 10 or 11. Well, sort of. It was my buddy Scott who encountered it at camp, when he signed up for this activity called Dungeon's and Dragons; I went for arts and crafts instead. But he did tell me all about it, and when we got back home we started playing. Some miniatures he got at camp, a few d6 from Monoploy, and the only rules were the vague recollections Scott had in his head. We had no clue, but that didn't stop us from having fun. I recall killing a vampire at one point, but apart from that most of that 'pre-history' exists only as a vague recollection and feeling.
Shortly after, Scott moved away but I still had the D&D bug, so I went to the local hobby store (Leisure World in the Valley Mall, Corner Brook, NL, in case you're wondering) to find some rulebooks. I couldn't quite remember exactly the name of the game, but I did recall it was 'advanced' or something. 'Oh look, Expert D&D; that must be it.' So I ended up with a copy of the Mentzer Expert set, which I quickly realized wasn't what I was looking for. And it was something akin to starting to read a book halfway through and try to figure out what's going on. Went back a few weeks later and got the Mentzer Basic set, and started to learn to rules. I managed to convince a few friends to play, but it wasn't until I changed schools in 9th grade did I meet some serious gamers. These guys were playing AD&D (right, now I remembered the name!), and other games like Marvel Super Heroes, Battletech and some others I don't remember. This started me seriously down the road of gaming, and all through high school we played loads of AD&D and dipped our toes in a range of other games like Twilight 2000 and Paranoia, and wargames like Harpoon. But we were mainly AD&D guys, I was mainly the DM. I kept playing in university with a new crowd, but gradually it faded into the background. Finally, just finished grad school, I was getting ready to move across the country and had to figure out what to do with a whole lot of boxes. One of which was my gaming collection. I thought I was done with gaming, so I gave it to a friend and more or less forgot about it as career, marriage, kids and all the other excitement of life came along.
Fast forward about 15 years, and while wasting time on the intertoobs, I stumble across Mathew Finch's "Swords and Wizardry" and start to read. And I got excited again about gaming. I played some newer games (4th Ed D&D to be exact) and it was fun, it wasn't quite what I was looking for. So I find myself following along with the so called 'Old School Renaissance' which is all about the games I knew so well. And so here I am.
As a side note, last time I saw my friend from university, I tried to get back that box of role playing treasure I gave him. All we found was my 1ed AD&D DMG. Which, I suppose, is not a bad choice for the 'one gaming book to survive the years'.