7.29.04 You Say Tel-Jihad, I Say Tel-Jilad
Taking a break from competition for a moment, I’d like to look at one of the more…amusing aspects of being a gamer. It really has nothing to do with the game itself, so much, but…indulge me for a moment.
I do a lot of different things: I work at a comic store (hence, read a large amount of comics), DJ some swing-dance events around the Dallas area, play poker here and there, and in my spare time I’m a full-time student. In short, I mix with a lot of different crowds; while there is some overlap here and there, these tend to be separate from each other, for the most part, with Magic and poker being the only groups that interact freely with each other.
On top of this, I have a girlfriend who, along with working on her PhD, reads various manga titles, swing-dances, and plays games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing from time to time. While she is phenomenally tolerant of my gaming habits (well, most of the time), there are certain moments where there are uncomfortable instances of dialogue between her and other folks:
Person at a dance: So, where’s Jonathan tonight?
Girlfriend: Umm…playing cards with friends.
Now, this is the moment of truth as to whether she will be forced to reveal the full nature of what I’m doing. This actually took place when I went to Waco a few weeks back; upon further grilling, she actually let a few mutual acquaintances that I was off playing Magic (since she couldn’t think of another reason a human being would go to Waco, Texas of their own free will). While it wasn’t necessarily an embarrassing situation, it was one that brought up some good-natured ribbing from a few people.
What’s the point here? While it isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world to spend your time doing, Magic is something that a good number of players don’t advertise as one of their primary hobbies. I don’t really have any reason (or way) to hide what I do; I pretty much let people know that I hold my geek status with some pride, and will not allow anything to come between me and my gaming, heh.
When people ask what I’m going on some of these nights, my answer is always almost invariably, “Playing cards with friends,” similar to what was mentioned above. The increased popularity of poker has actually caused a great many conclusions to be leapt upon, which is obviously the point of such an ambiguous statement. Being the Magic player has a stigma attached to it; rather than being the guy who thinks a lot and has a developed sense of strategy (or strategery, depending on your politics), you’re the guy sitting in the band hall during lunch. Unfair, perhaps…but when you hear what people remember from high school about people playing Magic, it almost inevitably involves band halls. Or little brothers. Or both.
When I talk to people about my hobbies, I have some pretty interesting things to tell them; through quite a bit of work, I’ve managed to have some really great experiences that I can share with people. I’ve played Magic in a number of different countries, as well as all across this country that I live in. Traveling has created not only the experiences of going from place to place, but has also given me a good deal of stories to tell about the people I encounter while I’m there playing. I really can tell the story about the two British players in Osaka who got too drunk to find their hotel in just about any conversation, though to mention that they stole bicycles and biked around town for a number of hours gives it just a bit more spice.
People do ask me why I was at those places…and I tell them. Telling a blatant mistruth only makes things difficult, so I tell them, “Yes, I went to Japan to game. I got paid for it, and I had a great time, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.” While this sounds a little over the top, the truth is that the people who haven’t done that aren’t sitting there wondering what kind of fool you are; they’re wishing they had been there themselves. And they would have loved to have been able to have those same experiences as you…in a heartbeat, so to speak.
Okay, so not everyone has flown across an ocean to play a card game; you don’t have to go to quite that length to try to make an impression on someone, fortunately. It’s not necessarily the raw accomplishments that you have accrued that work to make your achievement worthwhile, it’s the attitude that you take while talking about them. You want to let someone know that you are taking something more from this game than a few burned hours of time and a really bad story about how all your elves got killed by an angry god; they want to hear about some sort of passion, that what you do is more than just a goofy game.
Essentially, what you can share with people is what you put into the game. Not everyone will necessarily respect that, but enough people will, enough that you’ll actually see that you get more from your hours of play and work than a bad impression on everyone. In a sense, I’m an optimist in that I see honesty as paying off when you deal with people; impress upon them that you care about what you do, and that will speak for itself.
I’m not necessarily saying that you should just don a shirt that says “MAGIC PLAYER 4 LIFE” and to bloat yourself up to the point where you look down on anyone who doesn’t play the game. I’ll still tell people that I play cards on my weekends and explain if I need to; but when I do, they are going to hear that this is something that I enjoy, that I have taken something from, and that, to at least some small extent, it has changed my life.
With that being said…it is now time, ladies and gents, for block-constructed! And, as of now…I’ve got nothing, heh. This is not an environment, however, that many people feel is going to be fun to play in; they look and see a few overpowered decks with a few very overpowered cards, and they just shrink away from this saying, “No thanks!” Personally, I feel that this is a rather open environment that is really open to some levels of exploitation; while I might not be the one to spearhead such a project (I rarely am, to be honest), I definitely want to start looking for some of the possible chinks in the armor. There are some strategies that haven’t yet been pursued to their fullest, and it’s possible that we will see at least one or two new decks come out of the first rounds of PTQs this coming weekend.
With this in mind, have a good week folks! Keep working on block, and keep telling people about what you do with your game. Have a little pride in what you do; that can pay dividends all by itself.
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