Hobby Card Shop
I was introduced to the widely popular and successful (not to mention money-guzzling) trading card game Magic: the Gathering in the third grade. M: TG was a fantasy card game in which two wizards (players) dueled to gain power over the plane (win the game). Each wizard could control elements of nature, science, and magic. They could summon creatures and beasts, which sometimes came with their own special abilities.
The individual spells, monsters, and other abilities were printed onto a small baseball-sized (maybe a bit larger) cards that contained a painting, drawing, or picture and text that listed out the card’s abilities and casting requirements. Some cards had something called “flavor text” too, which had nothing to do with the gameplay, but added a nice touch to the story behind the game.
As much as I loved the game for the years I played it (up until eight grade), I never got into the story of Magic, never felt that the game simulated a battle between wizards. To me, M: TG was more like chess. Both required an overall strategy and insight of the big picture. Steps were planned out as each turn slowly manifested into a larger battle plan. Players had a chance to analyze and react to their opponent’s moves.
I remember my parents making me attend learning centers like Kaplan SCORE and my asking to be dropped off in the back of plaza so I could sneak into Hobby World right next to SCORE instead. I was obsessed with Magic and was willing to spend whatever time and money I had playing it.
I was attracted to the game just for the thrill of competition and the pride of knowing I was better than everyone else (at the game) or the struggle to be better. This was one time I didn’t care if the game didn’t simulate anything well. I enjoyed the intelligent battle of wits. I eventually quit though because I realized the only way to stay on top of the game was to continually buy new cards, tweak decks, and fine-tune my playing strategy. I was content knowing I had the ability to be one of the best for as long as I wanted to continue spending my energy and money and that was enough. Plus, I was growing older and people still playing these kiddie games were started to be ostracized and labelled as “gay,” “geeky,” and “stupid.”
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