Why we play the game

Why do we do it?  Just why exactly do we play the game?  Why do we spend our paychecks on countless cards, vying for the cards to give us the advantage over our opponents like the vampire Sorin Markov?  Why do we hop into the car at 1130 at night, blazing a trail to the local store just because we heard a new set came out for our favorite game with the passion and fury of Chandra Nalaar?  Why do we hunt down that elusive rare card with the primal ambition of Garruk the Hunter, never ceasing in our efforts until we can master that new spell or tame that legendary creature?  Why do we gather our friends against the coming challenges of new foes, like the vicious Ajani Goldmane?  Why do we stay up into the wee hours of the morning, forcing the will of our minds into masterpiece libraries, like the deceptive and shifty Jace Beleren?  The answer is actually quite simple.

We are planeswalkers.

We all faced a choice at some point in our lives.  We may have been hanging out with friends, or sitting in front of a Christmas tree with a mysterious box that said “Magic: The Gathering” on it, or we may have just been blankly staring at a display in our local store.  But at some point in our lives, we picked up what would lead us all into one insane adventure after another.  It was at this point that our “spark” ignited within our core, shaking the very structure of reality as we know it.  The “spark” is what separates us from the masses.  It’s what allows us to go where no other human could comprehend even existed.  It’s what allows us to explore the deepest and farthest realms of existence.  How many others have felt the fires of the Dragon Skull Summit?  Or how many people have explored the mysterious Eldrazi Temples?  And how many other people have seen the five suns rise over the Seachrome Coast?  We are among the few select individuals that get to experience the wonder that we call Magic: The Gathering.  But why do we do it?  Why do we play?

We play in order to form alliances with the people we know.  Most people talk about how they would do most anything for their friends.  But the bond that we share in battle has a stronger resolve than anything the world has ever seen.  Once you’ve shed blood for a comrade on the Plains of battle, you will never again experience a form of friendship that strong, because the bond you form in the fires of warfare are stronger than any other thing in the world.

We play to feel powerful over our ever-stressful lives.  We cast potent spells and mighty creatures to overcome the Mountains of stress that we face in our everyday lives.  During the day, we are students or laborers or interns, slaving away at “the next project”.  But when we open up our deckboxes and become planeswalkers, we can escape from it all.  In the Multiverse, we control everything.  We don’t answer to any bosses.  We don’t answer to any teachers.  We answer only to the call for unlimited power over our rivals.

We play to unleash our innermost thoughts and desires.  Humans have always had an affinity for fulfilling our suppressed wants and needs.  We reach down into our internal mental Swamps where we can find our deepest and darkest ideas.  It is often these ideas are channeled into our deck ideas, allowing us to will our dirty secrets and strategies, allowing us to use our twisted and warped ideas to beat out the competition and claim victory at the end of the day.

We play to enhance our lives both inside and outside the realm of the Multiverse.  Many a night are spent at our desk or sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, constructing our new tool of destruction.  We seclude ourselves on our own individual Islands of thought, hammering out new ideas until we find the ultimate combo that will ultimately obliterate our nemesis.  We will stay up into the wee hours of the night, hoping that the next great combo will knock out the rest.  And once we emerge from our self-seclusion, we have not only enhanced our deck, but we have enhanced ourselves as well.  Even though we may not recognize it, constructing these decks secretly teach us logic and reasoning skills that we can carry outside of the game of Magic.  We don’t realize that these are the same skills that we use in our everyday lives.  It doesn’t matter if we are filing a new business proposal, solving a mathematics problem, or simply fighting off an Apocalypse Hydra.  All the skills we learn in one life usually translate out into the next one.

We play in order to have something to call our own.  To some, Magic is simply a game.  To others, however, it is a lifestyle.  These few people live their life around the game of Magic, just as an artist’s life is enveloped in his masterpieces, or a musician is focused on his signature symphony.  We have a hunger to become the best at what we do, because it is simply an aspect of the game we know and love.  We are always adding to our collection, taking over our self-created civilizations with the strength of the mighty Forests.  To those of us who live this lifestyle, Magic isn’t simply a game.  It isn’t a hobby.  It’s a calling.  It resembles a fluorescent light that draws us in like moths to its warm embrace.  When we find that devious combo that allows us to get an edge over the opponent, the feeling we get resembles the same feeling as making the play that wins the homecoming game.  This feeling is comparable to nothing else in the world.  No other experience can simulate the feeling we get when we become the winner of our own forte.  To those of us who live this way, a victory is our very sustinence.  It is what we survive and thrive on.  It is everything to us.

And where all of these reasons stand out amongst our own, there is one reason that we play that stands out above the rest.  We play for ourselves.  We enjoy the comfort of this wonderful game that has so drastically influenced our lives.  We love this game, and there simply is no other way to put it.  As long as we keep playing and spreading the joy that is Magic: The Gathering, the game will continue to live on forever, something we all hope to achieve one day.

Spencer Goodrow

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