Another fad taking over the gamer blogosphere. I'm gonna try it out, just because it looks easy. There's a Dungeons & Dragons specific 30 day challenge, where you take on 30 different topics and make a blog post for them. Because I don't really play D&D exactly per se, this is slightly off topic for me, and I've got a specific tag I've created to keep it separate from my other series. I also make no promise that my thirty days will be consecutive--although I'll try to keep them mostly so.
I had a friend back in about 1980 or so? Maybe even a little earlier. I used to go over to his to "play" with him. He was a bit spoiled (in my opinion) and had this huge collection of Star Wars toys. Y'know, the Kenner action figures and playsets. Since this is was prior to the release of Empire Strikes Back, it was a constrained collection, and I think his collection was pretty darn complete. We weren't exactly collectors, though--the point of this stuff was to play with it. Since in 1980 I would have been 8 years old, I hadn't yet outgrown that paradigm either.
I do recall one day, however, that he wasn't very interested in playing, and was trying to get me involved in this talky game he was trying to figure out how to run. It was a disaster. He didn't know what he was doing, and I wasn't particularly interested. This was my first experience with D&D--with OD&D, actually. I can't remember if it was the White Box or the Brown Box, but it was one of those.
A few years later, when the D&D fad really finally became a thing, was when I finally "got it" though. At that time, we were into the Moldvay boxes with the Erol Otus artwork. I still kinda like that version, although I'm not really interested in going back to old rulesets. If I was, though, either a Moldvay or a retroclone that approximated Moldvay would be my first choice.
Back at this point (which started in fifth grade for me and carried forward through middle-school) I played off and on with a variety of different friends, and eventually we used more AD&D material as well. I never really played a real campaign, though--it was more fiddling and short-term one-off type stuff. But this is when I "got" the concept of the RPG and decided that it looked like fun. I also got involved, right about this same time, with the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks--solo RPGs, kinda, if you will. But I was really still more on the periphery of the hobby for many years. I didn't really buy anything, and I didn't really play consistently. That didn't start happening until I was in college, many years later. And it wasn't until 3rd edition came out in 2000 that I really had my first experiences with real campaigns and whatnot--you know, the way the game is "supposed" to be played.