I started gaming around the sixth grade, which means that I was around 11 years old, which means the year was around 1998. I have gamed for less than half of my life. Sad. Either my first or second rpg was Miekka ja magia, a simple Finnish dungeoncrawling game. I was the gm. The game was heavily houseruled. It was played for maybe a session or two. I did design a three-level dungeon for the game. The first level actually saw use. I also learned that preparing set solutions to problems simply doesn’t work, and players won’t go where you want them to go. Lucky me.
The next phase is fuzzy on detail. RPGs played or run: Cyberpunk, a little Rolemaster and Paranoia, and a bit of Stormbringer. RPGs read: Ultima thule (a Finnish Kalevala-inspired rpg), THOGS (The hunters of golden sirbul; very strange game). They were all loaned from local libraries. I also homebrewed a game or three. The first had a bunch of stats rolled with d20 +/- other dice depending on ace and class, which also gave a perk or two. There were hp, damage, magic points and maybe some other stuff. Gameplay was D&D-like. Second was a refined version of that. It used d100, stats were rolled with d100, 5d20 or 10d10, skills very rolled in a very smart way, resolution happened with roll-under, and relevant number was the average of stat and skill. D&D fantasy, again. Do note my exposure to D&D was pretty much zero at this point.
A third system was quite freeform. I don’t remeber if there actually was numeric stats or skills. Characters did have profession and race plus magic rules and inventory. Resolution was eyeballing by GM based on a result of a d100 rolled.The game was a cross between Shadowrun and WoD, setting-wise. I had some exposure via a friend to WoD but had never heard about Shadowrun.
Around this point I discovered Internet and D&D’ homepage, as well as forums. That and attending Ropecon gave me further insight into the hobby: There existed a 3rd edition of D&D and it did not utterly suck. I was also exposed the piece of brilliancy that is ADOM, which had talents before D&D had feats (it must be a conspiracy). D&D was played and mostly useless splatbooks bought.