Seems to me, if I recall correctly, that I discovered Tolkien around the same time I began playing D&D (the original three little booklets in a box). I think we had a game of Chainmail where we were recreating The Battle of Five Armies and it prompted me to read The Hobbit. Hooked by that immediately, The Lord of the Rings was soon to follow. I was also reading various sci-fi and fantasy one-offs around that time and I recall Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions coming to my attention, and also The Broken Sword. This could quickly bog down in a whirlwind of relevant links, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but suffice it to say, these were the early influences that were joining Howard and Frazetta as RPGing joined with my wargaming.
On that front, so to speak, I had already been playing Tactics II, Gettysburg, and Blitzkrieg, but now Kingmaker, Wooden Ships & Iron Men, Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, Invasion: America, and before too long games like Civilization and others would join the ranks. I think it significantly influenced my RPGing style and concerns to be such a hardcore wargamer during those early RPGing years. Although at its heart, RPGing is about playing a single character, the games in which we played often included elements of nation-building and socio-political influence. A character was rarely just a sword-wielding maniac with a cadre of maladjusted buddies running into a crypt to steal some treasure with the intent of blowing it all on wenches around the gambling tables of some tavern. Sure, sometimes that would be a goal but only sometimes.
Well, those were the early years and influences on my gaming that I feel were particularly instructive in how I went about the process of world-building as a Referee/DM/GM/Facilitator of RPGs. I won't deny that there were other less direct factors, most notably my academic interests, such as they were, and going to some conventions as well as participating in game clubs locally, near military bases, certainly had a lot to do with the gaming landscape in which I thrived. As I get into the eighties, the post-high school years, things were somewhat changed for me, so I will leave that for what I will probably call the middle years of the Grymvald Pedigree.