I was raised in California and played games whenever I could. My father still hates board games (he calls them bored games) but I would play mostly with siblings and friends. Just the normal fare for the 80's. I purchased Axis and Allies for my 6th grade graduation gift, and that got played very rarely. In junior high one spring break, a friend came over to spend the night and introduced us to Dungeons and Dragons. We played for 3 days straight, and I was hooked until later in high school when girls entered into the picture. When DnD faded we got into Warhammer and Man o' War for a while. Then Magic came out and that sunk most of our time until I left for college at BYU. Of course, computer/console games were a constant growing up from Atari up till today. (My friend growing up even had a Super Famicom (Japanese NES) so we got to play many game that were not released in the US until years later, they were just all in Japanese)
The college (and mission) years were about a 6.5 year break from gaming for the most part with only an occasional computer game. The big exception was one year when I was home for the summer, a friend introduced me to Settlers of Catan, priming my interest in board games that would sprout a few years later after finishing college. (I think we played with the previous Mayfair version, just shortly after it replaced the older (original?) design)
Shortly after graduation and moving to Texas DnD 3rd Edition came out, and a friend and I decided to start a group up. Almost 10 years later that group (with some changes here and there over the years) is still going about 2-3 times a month.
Playing DnD got me into the local comic/game shop, and as I was perusing the DnD books I would occasionally look through the board games. Over the course of a year or two I picked up a few new games here and there, and played a few more that friends had aquired, always looking for somthing as fun as Settlers. Getting Puerto Rico for Christmas in 2004 started my current game buying binge.
My wife and I occasionally play with a different couples that we have met through church and/or work. I also have a weekly game where most of my playing is don. I finally feel that I have most of the games that I want, and more than I can reasonably play, so I don't see my collection growing too much more this year. Tanga is a serious temptation, however...
Oh, and the cutest picture on BGG is http://boardgamegeek.com/image/146969