I'm finding more and more that the ways people come across this series are as varied as the people, themselves. I've also found that the way someone is introduced the it affects their opinion of it. For example: I accidentally bought my first Tales game.
Ya see, I was a freshman in high school, at the time, and my friend had just gotten Skies of Arcadia on the GameCube, and was going on and on about how great it was. So, I decided I'd try to find it the next time I went to the Money Tree (idk if this is a chain, or just a local thing, but it's sort of like a pawn shop). When I got there I couldn't remember the name of the game. All I remembered was that it was three words, the second word was "of", and the third word ended in -ia. So, when I saw Tales of Symphonia, I just assumed that's what it had been, because it fit all the criteria that I knew the game had. I got hooked instantly, and when I told my friend that I had gotten it, they had no idea what I was talking about. This was the best accident ever.