by ShadowHM o4/2009
interview was a long time in the making. Pete had a long hiatus
from the forums as he recovered from a series of health challenges.
However, I am glad we were able to finish it. Here is the second
of The Making of a Gamer interviews.
Please give us some general information about yourself. For starters,
where were you born? Where were you raised to adulthood? Where do
you live now?
was born in Florence, Italy on the twenty-third of November 1945
and originally given the name Pierluigi Grandolfi. My father died
within a month of my birth, and shortly after that my mother left
me with relatives in the mountains above Florence. Because the prospects
for a single woman with a child were not good in post war Italy,
she moved to England in search of better opportunities. There she
met Leon Majewski, an ex-member of a Polish regiment in the British
army. He had fought and been wounded at Monte Casino and had learned
some Italian and a love of Italy during his months of convalescence
there. Since this is my story and not theirs (which is much more
interesting), suffice to say that my mother went back to Italy in
the summer of forty-eight to bring me to England.
forty-eight to fifty-one, we lived in London, close to Regents
Garden. However, it cannot be said that we mixed into English society
at any level. Bloody foreigners have never been greatly
appreciated in England and even less so in the post war era. When
we left England in fifty-one, I knew scarcely more English than
when Id arrived three years earlier which is to say
nearly none at all.
November of fifty-one, traveling under a British passport in my
new name of Peter Majewski with my mother and stepfather,
I crossed the Atlantic on the Cunard White Star liner Mauretania.
My earliest true memories (things I actually remember, rather than
think I remember because people have told them so many times) are
of this trip. Going as far forward as passengers were allowed and
watching the waves crash over the ships bows. Eating in an
almost deserted dining room (even many of the staff were sea sick
). And my father making all of it into a fascinating adventure (my
poor mother never left the cabin and hardly left the bathroom
I guess I inherited my (natural) fathers inner ears).
things up: we lived on Manhattan Island, lower East Side (a couple
of blocks from the headquarters of Murder, Inc.) until
Spring of 57. We then moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania,
where I stayed till June of 60 (my parents left me with some
friends the last few months so that I could finish Junior High there).
From June of 60 till January of 65, I lived just inside
the Northern edge of Atlanta, Georgia. I completed high school at
St. Pius X Catholic High School, where, under the tutelage of a
Jesuit, I became an atheist (not what he had in mind ).
of some family and personal problems I joined the Army in January
of 65. After training, I spent a brief time in Germany and
then volunteered for Vietnam. I served there from October 65
to October 66 when I returned to Fort Eustice, Virginia as
an instructor. I got married to my first wife the following Spring
(April Fools Day appropriately enough ) Got out of the service
that December, and went back to Atlanta and Georgia Tech. At Tech
I got my first computer account, learned programming, learned hardware
interfacing, and have never looked back.
next few years were spent between Tech and Western Electric
the one to get an education, the other to pay for it Somehow, in
the process, I acquired a daughter as well. In Spring of 73
I finished my undergraduate work with a BS in Physics. Over the
next year, I applied and was accepted into Washington State University
(-not- UW). When it was almost time to leave, my ex-wife announced
that not only was she not coming with me, she was divorcing me.
The divorce was bitter, and I did not see her or communicate with
her for over twenty years. I did get to see my daughter again when
she was seventeen after a separation of thirteen years.
in the Summer of 74, with nothing left to lose,
I packed up my Healy and drove to Pullman, Washington, home of Moo-U.
I spent the next eleven years there, first as a student, then as
a pre-doc, and finally as a post-doc. I met Sue (Magi) there, and
eventually we got married. Along the way, I picked up a PhD in Physics
specializing in shock dynamics.
and former fellow grad student, recruited me to work at Boeing in
aerospace and military research. I accepted, and in the fall of
85 was living in Maple Valley, Washington. In 2000, I retired
from Boeing since I was tired of the vagaries of corporate research.
Then, earlier this year (2005), Magi and I moved closer to Seattle
(to Renton, specifically). That pretty well summarizes my life so
at least it did four years ago when that was written. Over the past
four years, Ive played a game against leukemia, including
bone marrow transplant and graph versus host disease, which is not
quite decided, but which Im winning on points Weve moved
again, a few miles over to Kent, partially to accommodate my limited
mobility and partially in hopes of getting my mom (born in 1916)
to move in with us.
Who influenced you the most in making you interested in games? How?
When we first moved to the USA, we didnt have TV for a few
years (which was not uncommon in the early 50s). Our family
evening entertainment was mostly card games, primarily of the various
melding varieties (forms of rummy). My (step)-father also tried
to teach me chess, but he is an extremely holistic individual. He
has no ability to break things down into easily absorbable chunks
and tried to teach me by mixing rules, moves, tactics, and strategy
into a totally incomprehensible and indigestible lump. Although
he never could teach me chess, he did inspire me to want to learn
it (anything that difficult just had to be fun ). We did not have
any board games other than chess.
Were there any other gaming influences?
To get me out of the influence of New York City, my parents sent
me to summer camps almost every year. Not the week and two week
variety, but the whole summer type. There I learned additional games,
Canasta being one of the most memorable. In addition, sometime when
I was about ten, a fellow camper finally taught me chess
turned out to be both easier and harder than Id expected.
With the exception of Monopoly, board games were still out of the
picture since most of them were still of the Aggravation style.
That is to say, cheap, simple, and totally based on luck.
the time Id gotten to high school, chess had become my main
game. As soon as I discovered chess books, I devoted myself to the
game for about two years before becoming bored. However, I did play
it in both club and team through my senior year. Since then, I doubt
that Ive played more then a hundred games of chess total in
the last forty years.
to Bridge late. My first experience was in the Army when I was given
a five minute course so that I could be the fourth in a game on
the airplane to Germany. I played little bridge after that until
my junior year. As an upperclassman at Georgia Tech, I minored
in bridge. There was a perpetual game that ran in the Physics Department
students lounge. That game probably cost me a few tenths on
What games have you played in the past?
Besides the card games and chess that I mentioned above, I was attracted
early on to the Avalon Hill type board games, mostly the various
war game simulations, etc. This expanded to the SSI games, whos
realism appealed to the grognard in me. The names of
many of those games no longer reside in my memory, but a search
through a 75 catalog of either of those two companies would
reveal many of the games I played then.
addition to board games, I started playing computer games in the
early 70s. At that time, a number of us developed and played
WW3 on the Georgia Tech Burrows 6600 computer. Basically, as the
name implies, it was a war game. Each day, every player punched
out an input deck with his expenditures and moves. All the decks
were collected and used, along with the previous days state,
to run a batch job. The result of the job was a printout with individual
status sheets and individual world maps for each player. Over the
three years we played this game, it was in constant development.
All players would submit ideas for improvements, usually in the
form of code additions. If the majority approved, the additions
were incorporated. A game typically lasted a quarter, being won
on points and disputes over beers at the Yellow Jacket
rather than by conquest.
with the advent of time share systems, some real time
games entered the picture. Games like Star Trek on DEC systems led
the way. Rogue, Adventure, and the like started to crop up on Unix
systems, and I stole accounts both at Tech and later at WSU to play
these. Finally, in the later 70s, platforms like the Commodore
PET, the Trash 80, the Apple ][, etc., got me into more interactive
games. These were the years of Hannuberabi, the Adam Scott adventure
games, Wumpus, Zork, etc. Flight Simulator on the Apple ][ during
this time also ate a large chunk of my time.
board and tabletop games continued (and continue) to pique my interest
on the rare occasions when a gaming group can be convened. Again
my memory fails me, but some of the names are Carcassonne, Robot
Rally, Puerto Rico(?), various railroad building games.
the advent of the Wintel machines, and as graphics improved, I played
a lot of adventure games Tex Murphy Mean Streets series, the Forgotten
Realms and Krynn gold box series). I love flight sims, and have
played Falcon 3.0, Red Baron, Chuck Yeagers Flight Sim and
a number of others. The Heroes of Might and Magic series filled
my time, and, incidentally, where what finally won Sue over to the
dark side she didnt enjoy computer games before I introduced
her to HoMM 1. Now, as we say, shes dicted
had fun with some of the golf games, but thats the only sport
that I play on a computer. Things like SimCity held my interest
briefly. But it was the introduction of the original Diablo that
truly changed my life. Prior to Diablo, (1997), I read over 200
books a year. Since then, I have averaged only twenty or so.
What games do you play now?
At this time, and for about the past four years, I have not been
able to play much. My endurance is about enough for a game or two
of Spider Solitaire, and my reflexes barely adequate for Pinball.
Im planning that soon (a matter of months) when I am well
again I will be playing WoW. With the new setup in the new house,
I also hope to get my joystick-throttle-rudder system back into
action and play what few combat flight simulators are out there.
As for the rest, well see what new games come along and what
old games I can find in the bargain bins
How did you choose your username of Pete?
Well, it *is* my name The first UNIX system I had an account on
was shared with about ten people. In that simpler world of thirty-eight
years ago, we all used a first name or nickname as our user name.
The habit just stuck, I guess. And in game fora, I think it helps
to distinguish the player from the avatar. As a one-time role player,
Im probably a bit more aware of when Im in and out of
character. Besides, it gives a certain continuity. Ive been
signing posts to newsgroups, posts to www fora, and e-mail with
--Pete for so long that anything different would be
How did you come to the Realms Beyond?
Shortly after discovering Diablo in February of 97, I was
searching online for game patches when I discovered the old Blizzard
Diablo strategy forum. I lurked there for a while, then started
posting. Sometime after that, Woody started posting about his BNM
and eventually set up a site for that variant and others that he
collected (including my Immortal Heroes, which Id been playing
for some time, and submitted when Woody requested input for other
variants). From that point on, mostly as a lurker, I followed the
variant community across a few boards until they settled in Realms
Beyond. So, you might say I just kind of grandfathered
What are your preferences in play style for games?
For me to like a game, it has to be either solo or group; either
PvP or PvE; real time or turn based; RL or computer; physical or
mental; . . .
paraphrase Will Rogers, I've never met a game I didn't like.
Do you prefer to solo or to play cooperatively?
If the game is set up for it, I much prefer to play co-op games,
but I usually find myself playing solo. There are a number of reasons
for this, some of them not too flattering But, basically, I play
most games in a relaxed mode. I don't particularly care to go fast.
I like to look around, explore, check out the environment. And I
tend to get bored in a short time, so that doing acts
or quests or instances often forces me to
play longer than I would like (then again, I beat the
original single player Diablo in one twenty-six hour session
I guess *it* didnt bore me ).
I do find a group thats willing to put up with my style,
I greatly enjoy it. However, there always seems to come those times
when Im not in the mood to play at the designated times. Then
either I dont play, potentially ruining the fun for all, or
I do play, very likely ruining the fun for all. Having to play at
a particular time feels too much like work. Eventually, the group
most of my co-op has either been with Magi (who has to put up with
me :P ) or with pugs. One of the things Ive enjoyed about
WoW (in my limited experience) is being able to approach a stranger
whos in the same area Im in and asking if theyd
like to do some particular quest together. Ive had some nice
experiences with that.
Do you prefer player versus player environments, such as you described
for that initial war game structure you worked on?
I enjoy competition a lot; I enjoy RL games and sports and I like
to win. On the computer, I enjoy competition in many ways, especially
turn based games. However, by and large I dont enjoy twitch
games. Ive tried various FPS from DOOM to Quake and mostly
they just frustrate me. And I dont much care for games where
one needs to memorize and practice a build order to be successful,
so the PvP RTS games turn me off (but I find that I usually enjoy
the single player campaign in those games).
favorite PvP experiences have been with combat flight simulators.
The real time pace is really real time, and it is a
wonderful balance between reflex and reflection. Unfortunately,
there are few opportunities to play those games as a solo player
anymore, and for the reasons Ive given above, I do not care
to be a member of a squadron.
Or was it the cooperative aspect of it, wherein you all discussed
and reviewed what worked and what did not?
In both games and life, I like a cooperative-competitive mix. That
was very true in the GaTech WW3 game, where the game was competitive,
but to some extent so was the development of the game. Coming up
with a good idea, a decent algorithm to implement it, and getting
it accepted by the group gave one bragging rights. It was a game
in itself. Discussing concepts, both for the game and the code,
was also a great pass time.
tragic tale I won't prolong.
rickety tickety tin
tragic tale I won't prolong.
if you did not enjoy my song
yourselves to blame if it's too long.
should never have let me begin.
should never have let me begin!"