Friday, 26 July 2013

Magic Gathers

As reported here, I got myself Magic: The Gathering cards at the weekend’s PAX Aus. Actually, I bought a couple of packs, blue and red (selected as per my son & I’s favorite colors), and received a bonus supplementary red pack for participating in a short training game session. After that session I thought I saw some potential with this game.
At home I put the cards away where I put my toys (read: expensive gadgets). At my son’s request I took them out and left them where my son leaves his favorite toys (read: the living room’s coffee table).
The other night, slumbering in the post dinner, pre son’s bath doldrums, I opened the extension pack I used for my only Magic: The Gathering session thus far. I looked at the cards, I carefully read the instructions, and I answered some questions from my son.
Then I felt it. The same feeling I had as an eighth grader, when my parents took my then LA based cousin and I to visit Jerusalem. Walking through the city streets we hit upon a shop displaying an item I’ve heard about before but never had the chance to sight before: A red box covered with a drawing of a fiery dragon. The basic set of Dungeons & Dragons.
I managed to convince my parents to get it for me. To be honest, I don’t think I left them much choice. It was quite expensive by then’s standards, yet its cost was negligible in comparison to the money I continued to pour into Dungeons & Dragons during my high school years. Most of those old rule books, including that very first one, have been thrown away by my parents over time; I can’t blame them too much there, having left them behind when I left Israel (but then again, you have to be mad to throw away books, don't you?).
Why did I leave my Dungeons & Dragons behind? Simple: because although I read them all thoroughly, I hardly played them. There simply wasn’t enough interest in my group of friends, plus – and probably more importantly – we (and particularly I) were pretty bad at it. As in, we didn’t role play much; we were focused on dice throwing and beating the numbers required to kill the next monster so we could get the next level up. Again, I was the chief culprit in this game.
Beneath all this nonsense, however, lay a strong spark of the type that always ignited my imagination. I could see that spark lighting up a proper flame each time I stumbled upon a good swords & sorcery fantasy book, like The Palace Job. Now, with Magic: The Gathering I could feel it again. And I can feel how the same old story is going to repeat itself: I can clearly see how I’m going to pour money into cards and into the iPad game, only to hardly play the game at all.
History will repeat itself to the letter. Between the lack of interested gaming partners and my overall severe lack of spare time, my Magic: The Gathering cards are doomed to collect dust. Yet I will argue the benefit they bring, that sparking of my imagination, that way of sending my thoughts that a particular path, is worth the admission price.
I will further elaborate on that point. Throughout high school I would be blamed for wasting my money on D&D stuff (or, as my mother would call it, "The Game"). Later in my life I would be blamed for buying CDs, and even later laserdiscs. Indeed, on the face of it, I did pour a lot of money down The Game's drain; but was it a waste? With the aid of the perspective of a couple of decades I can confidently argue it wasn't. Those D&D books were amongst my first ever English adult reading material I grappled with. It was hard, damn hard, but I made it because I was interested. And now? Now I read and write in English for my living. Not to mention blogging in English.
D&D can take a lot of credit there. It wasn't a waste of money, just like the music and movies that followed weren't. It was one of those things that made me what I am now, because I - like most people - learn best through play. Hopefully, I could trigger similar processes in my son.


Image copyright: Wizards of the Coast 


27/7/13 Update: 

I stand corrected. I just found that original D&D set my parents bought me on my book shelf. Apparently, I brought it over from Israel back in 2011.
I would like to apologize before my mother.

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