I grew up in the early 70's before video games really took off. Oddly enough, however, I am late to the table-top gaming scene. For some reason, role playing games were not popular where I lived in rural Western Nebraska. The closest thing I came to role playing was playing 'cowboys and indians' or 'rebels and stormtroopers' with my friends outside.
As a kid, I did many things that, looking back now, had a lot to do with RPGs but I didn't know it at the time. I would draw maps of imaginary places and make up elaborate histories about the places. I was inspired to do this by reading our atlus and from the maps in our copies of Lord of the Rings and things like that. I also made my own games out of bits of other games and other toys that I had. I still have my prototype of 'Star Wars Bounty Hunters' that I made. I made several variants of games like chess and checkers too that had more complex moves and abilities.
Once video games became more prevalent, I started playing them and most of my early exposure to actual RPG settings came from games like 'Adventure', 'Zork', 'Dragonfire' and 'Eye of the Beholder' (my introduction to anything D&D). I've played most of the RPG video games that have come out since then. I think that's why I have no problem with tough, dangerous game worlds and rolling up new characters in table-top games: I'm so used to having my character die often.
Most of what I know about RPG game worlds comes from reading the many D&D novels that they started having in our library in the late 80's. I still collect and read book series like 'Dragonlance', 'Greyhawk' (I even have a poster from the promo for 'Saga of Old City' from when that book came out), 'Forgotten Realms' etc. So, the storytelling aspect of RPGs is very important to me and I'm rather impatient with 'rules lawyers' and bickering over what the 'crunch' says we can and can't do.
In college in the early 90's, I was introduced to groups of guys who actually played RPGs on the table. I mostly played strategy games with them as my schedule didn't allow for getting involved in any RPG campaigns, but I heard a lot about the D&D campaigns they were playing. It wasn't until after I graduated, ironically, that I really had time to get into RPG campaigns.
I got a job on a research farm in North Dakota, so we'd work on the weekdays during the day and have tons of free time in the evenings and weekends. I started playing D&D 3rd Ed games with a group and we played a lot in the Forgotten Realms world. None of them really wanted to be a cleric, so I usually was. That and my own helpful nature, is why I usually prefer to play a cleric to this day.
Today, I am a landscaper and professional gardener who also does odd jobs and computer repair on the side. Once again, I haven't a ton of time for long campaigns, so I find myself playing a lot of online and CRPGs. For a while, I was heavily into the D&D Miniatures Battles strategy games, but interest in that where I live now (Las Vegas) has pretty much died out.
I'm now a big fan of the D&D Adventure System board games and Dungeon Command. I'll try not to talk about them too much in the forums, but I do see them as their own edition of D&D and a great way to experience role playing for someone like me who has more of a background in strategy and computer games than in 'traditional' role playing. However, I've found that you can create quite the rich and interesting game campaign using these games. Their fairly simple 'crunch' is great for letting the story itself shine through.