Gamers are like vampires. In a lot of ways, really, but I've been thinking of one, in particular.
We've all got a lineage. By which I mean, there's a person (or several persons) who got you into the hobby. (Tabletop gamers do, anyways. Not computer gamers so much, but I barely fit in that demographic.) In my experience, it's somewhat unusual for someone to teach themselves, or to play their first game without a veteran gamer of some stripe. That may be a peculiarity of my time/space location, but it's how I see it.
Even if you taught yourself how to play, you've still got your first group. The social nature of the medium practically guarantees that you'll teach at least a couple of people how to play, at some point, because you'll need players.
For me, it's been important. The people who taught me to play, who I played my first games with, are still my best friends. Even five years later, even across state lines and time zones. And -- amusingly, ironically, but somehow not surprisingly -- they're the people who I link to.
That first group, back in those early days: Karen DMed, and me and David, Rae, and Andy played.
I got the impression, at the time, that everyone else had already played together, that I was the only one who was new. Later, I think I heard that Andy had joined around the same time I had.
At any rate, that's who I learned from. That's the first group I GMed with, too.
And now I've got three people who I taught to play, who played (or are playing) their first game with me. Which is kind of a weird idea, once I started thinking about it. If I hadn't started the school group, or put together the current campaign, these people might not have gotten into gaming. They might have, anyway--it's not like I'm the only person at school capable of running a game, and Qwerty probably would have gotten around to it with his own friends, sooner or later--but they might not have.