So the first gaming magazine of any kind I can remember purchasing is an issue of Dragon Magazine. Specifically the march 1986 issue ... I think. I"m not sure honestly. All those memories are blended together. I recall looking at my Dad's HO train magazines, looking at Dragon and I might have even somehow ended up with a copy of White Dwarf. The selection at Walden Books was really limited and when it came to gaming stuff, it seemed completely random and it was just very sporadic. One month they'd get in a copy of something and then the next month they wouldn't (what it was I'm sure is they were quickly snatched up as they'd only order a single copy probably).
Anyway the more memorable purchase for me came not in early childhood but in my mid-20s. I was in graduate school. I'd abandoned booze and sports, I'd been married in August of 1998. This "settling down" drew me back to the idea of a gaming as a hobby.
This issue, along with my purchase of some randome 2nd edition D&D stuff that I snagged at the Hobbytown USA store on West Sahara in Las Vegas in late May or June of 1999 started me down the path towards gaming in actuality. But it was really probably the Warhammer Fantasy Battles 6th edition boxed set about a year later that pulled me back in entirely. Though I'd never actually use those minis for anything. I put them together and painted most of them up. Didn't really find a good group to play with until about six months later and then I realized all those folks were doing 40k. So I went out and got into that and the next six years of my gaming life were utter bliss. We had a wonderful club of working professional late 28s to early 50s age folks, everyone painting their armies, showing up to club meetings and club events, etc. It was my true golden age of gaming. I've been chasing it ever since I lost it. Today with everyone head-jacked into their Iphone and wasting time on the internet (I know funny coincidence I'm typing that on my blog ... lol). I think that much of the disposable time we had in the late 90s early 2000s is now lost, mostly wasted. So fewer and fewer people have the willpower to paint minis, etc.
I don't think gaming is dead, by no means. I just think it has to evolve. Gaming has to take less time than it once did. The luxury of all day gaming on Saturday and Sunday afternoons is forever gone for most people. At least where I'm at in the world. Anyway the trip down memory lane inevitably leads to melancholy right? Only ten posts about D&D and I'm already there? LOL. Where will I be by the twentieth post!!