Magical Gatherings

By: Jay

It took me a while to think of something I would be truly interested in learning about for this paper but then I remembered that Magic: The Gathering had been mentioned in class and I thought that would be very interesting to look at. I played Magic in high school and stopped about the time that college started because it became too hard to balance school and the game. Magic is a card game played between two or more players. Each player starts with 20 life and the objective of the game is reduce your opponents life to zero. This is done with a combination of cards that each have different abilities. The thing that sets magic apart from most games is that it was one of the first collectible card games and it allows players to make custom decks that make each game play out differently. Many other collectible card games have been made since Magic but only a handful of them have reached the popularity that Magic has. Wizards of the Coast is a gaming company that makes the game. Up to four new sets of cards are released each year making the game an ever-changing experience. To help solidify Magic as the number one card game, Wizards of the Coast has put together a very well structured system of tournaments that range from weekly Friday Night Magic events with eight or more people at a local gaming store to Grand Prix with up to 1,000 players. There are many reasons to compete in the tournaments. Some people merely play in small tournaments because they like the fun of playing the game once or twice a week with people that they become good friends with. Others play because in larger tournaments there are cash prizes to be won. Wizards of the Cost holds tournaments called Pro Tour Qualifiers that if a player wins gives them a plane ticket to whatever place the next Pro Tour will be held. Pro Tours are invitation only tournaments with Prizes up to $40,000.  Most people don’t start playing Magic because they want to win money, most don’t even know about the tournament system when they start playing. Some people start when they’re older but almost every person I’ve meet whose played magic, and I’ve met a lot, started playing as a kid and most of time because their friends played and they didn’t want to be left out. The only reason I started playing Magic was because one summer all the kids on my block were playing and no matter how hard I tried to hold out and not give in, it just became too hard to watch them play all the time and have no idea what was going and not being able to participate. So after putting up with that for week I finally give in and was hooked. This concept is interesting to me because I feel like so many people only start playing because of their friends. Almost no just sees the game and wants to play it, as you need at least one other person to play with. This makes Magic a very social game and I’d be interested to look at how Magic became popular or how other games become popular when it can be viewed almost as an exclusive that I have seen many people be discouraged from becoming part because they only knew one person who played and that can make it hard for the game to stay fun if you end up playing the same game with the same person over and over and goes against one of the biggest selling points of the game.  

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