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Meeting Your Fighting Fantasy Hero Whilst Sobbing Into Your Crème Brûlée

27/10/2016 16:47 | Updated 28 October 2016
Materio via Getty Images

Let's start with a disclaimer.

Unless you're a middle aged, nerdy, probably male gaming geek, this post might as well be written in Quenya (if you don't know what that is, don't bother reading on).

It was at a fancy dinner and I was sat next to someone called Ian Livingstone. Introduced to me as a very important man in the creative industry. Super important. Pretty much the chair or non-exec on the board of every big gaming company

We talked for a while, like sensible humans, about sensible things.

Then for some reason we started talking about computers. How, at a recent exhibition at London's Barbican I was horrified to find just about every gaming machine I've ever owned (starting with the ZX81), behind glass with a little information label describing its quaint silly ways.

We talked about our favourite games: Manic Miner; Jet Set Willy; Chuckie Egg; R-Type. All classics.

My favourite of all time was Rick Dangerous. An amazing Indiana Jones-inspired platform game. I actually had a Commodore 64 by then, which was super slick. That bit of kit was the envy of all my friends, because it was cartridge-based rather than using tapes, which made a massive difference - just sayin'.

Ian said that he'd had something to do with that when he was with video game maker Eidos and that it had turned into the inspiration for Tomb Raider with Lara Croft.

And then it slowly dawned on me that this was THE Ian Livingstone. You know, as in Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson. The men who introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) through Games Workshop and authors of Fighting Fantasy books. I hadn't recognised him because he wasn't in black and white sporting massive glasses and dubious 70s legacy facial hair.

Oh dear. As soon as I realised, the 40 (ahem) something, usually composed ad man that is me instantly morphed straight back into the nerdy 14-year-old I was, clutching a 20-sided dice in his sweaty fat hands.

I told him excitedly that I was a massive fan of his work.

And then it started... Ian started asking me questions about everything I'd been obsessed by as a teenager.

"What was the name of the Warlock of Firetop Mountain?"

"How do you defeat the blood monster?"

You attack him in the third eye you goon, the 14-year-old screamed inside me.

But the 40-year-old me had no idea and had no idea why couldn't I remember. This was one of the guys who had steered my formative years through Fighting Fantasy books and Games Workshop. I had read all the books, running out of fingers as I kept them in different points in the narrative just in case I had screwed up a decision. If you want to fight the thief, turn to page 20. I had played the games, read the books, gone on the adventures. And couldn't remember one solitary thing about them.

What a disappointment, a gormlessly staring superfan playing nervously with his crème brûlée.

Ian, if you ever read this, I'm sorry. You'd have probably been better off with the person on your right. To be honest they probably would have had a better army on Clash of Clans as well.

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