What I Love About Magic: The Community

Posted in Ways to Play on February 14, 2017

By Corbin Hosler

Type a few sentences. Meh. Not a good start. Trash it.

Try again, get a few words in and delete.

Get distracted by Twitter. Scroll and hope that inspiration will come.

Another failed start. This shouldn't be this hard, should it?

Look at the clock. Ugh, time to go already, nothing written yet as deadline approaches.

Drive a few blocks to meet up with someone I met on Facebook who wants to pick up a playmat from me. The usual small talk in the parking lot as we complete the handoff, my mind already back at home thinking about making it in time to catch the end of the basketball game while I procrastinated writing.

A disembodied voice calls out, snapping me out of my haze and into the moment.

"Are you guys talking about Magic? I used to play!"

We spent the next 20 minutes talking about this game we share. We talked about the introduction of planeswalkers. We talked about the best way to get back into the game and the joys of drafting. We talked about just how broken Urza's Saga was. Three perfect strangers in a grocery store parking lot, trading stories of this chance connection like we had known each other for years.

I'll probably see them at Friday Night Magic this week.

That's why I love this community.

When I was given the opportunity to write about why I love the Magic community, I didn't realize how challenging it would be. There are so many incredible stories I could write about, from the momentous accounts of players going above and beyond to the kind of outstanding community events being put on. There's so many examples of "big" things that make the Magic community unique, what could I possibly lead with?

That led to the fits and starts and me browsing social media, killing time until I had to leave to drop off that playmat. But standing in that cold parking lot discussing exactly how silly Mirrodin Standard was, I realized something important that no amount of time spent reflecting on some of the cooler Magic events could bring me.

It's the smaller, quieter moments that matter most, and it's those that make the Magic community what it is. It isn't about how awesome our most prolific streamers are (and, trust me, they are awesome) or how cool Wizards-sponsored events like the Community Cup are—it's about the little moments when three strangers can find common ground in a grocery store parking lot and escape, if only briefly, from the concerns of the rest of their lives.

I truly believe the Magic community is the best gaming has to offer, and I think that shows in my work. Before my career in Magic, I lived what seems like a different life as a sportswriter. I learned a lot in my time in school, at internships, and in the field, but there's one lesson that has always stood out to me, long since I first heard this exchange as a college student.

What's the difference between covering a city council meeting and covering a crime scene and covering a football game?

Well, each one has a different focus and different circumstances and different things that are important.

It's a trick question. There is no difference. Every story you ever write is about people. The subject matter is irrelevant—the story is the people involved.

It's a lesson I've kept at heart ever since. Writing about Magic is certainly unique in many ways, but in most ways, I've found it's not all that different from writing about anything else. It's about the people involved in the game. It's about the community. It's about you.

And the community has never ceased to impress me.

We have incredible community-run charity tournaments. We have grand gestures toward community members when they fall on hard times. We have content creators working tirelessly to produce hours of entertainment and education for us all to enjoy.

There's so much to talk about when it comes to the community, so many outstanding community leaders who do incredible work. But, if I'm being honest, that's not what I think of when I think of the reasons why I love the Magic community. After all, every game has its share of hardworking and popular community leaders.

But not every community has what we have: the unwavering support from the top all the way down. I've seen it first-hand. When a deadly EF-5 tornado ripped through my hometown in 2013, killing 25 people and wounding hundreds more, I found myself in a position I had never been in. Myself and my loved ones were unharmed, but I was at ground zero immediately following the cyclone to report on the destruction. It was an incredibly difficult experience, but one I'm glad I went through. While the devastation was terrible, the immediate outpouring of support—even as officials were trying to rescue those still trapped—was inspiring to see.

Later that night, I found out that several members of the local Magic community had lost everything as the storms destroyed their homes and scattered their belongings across the red dirt of Oklahoma. I shared my experience of that day, and the reaction from the Magic community was immediate. Charity tournaments were held even several states away, and the support from everyone who gave was enough to bring a little light to those whom the darkness of the twister had enveloped.

That experience had a profound effect on me, and I haven't wavered since in my belief that the Magic community can do incredible things.

The big stuff is remembered in the history books of the game. The players, the wins, the Pro Tour Top 8s, the Hall of Fame—that stuff is recorded and remembered for years to come.

But it's the little moments that will never be forgotten.

Stories like that of Van Nguyen and Mariah Boehm, who had the community rally around them in incredibly hard times. Stories like Jimmy Bucknell's, who without Magic would not have recovered his memory after a horrific car crash. Stories like that of Brandon Burton and mother Elizabeth, who are an inspiration to all of us. Stories like Jacob Van Lunen's and Heather Dawn's, who might not even be here today without Magic.

There's a reason this article has been peppered with links—there's so many stories I love about the Magic community that it feels impossible to share them all, and though I'm doing my best to try, I'm sure I'm missing plenty.

It can be tempting at times to get caught up in the latest drama, to forget what brought us all together in the first place. But the heart of the Magic community isn't simply any one of the stories I've mentioned here, or any combination of them.

It's giving that kid at the local game store your leftover commons to kick-start their collection. It's befriending that shy kid at summer camp by teaching him a new game. It's helping a less-experienced player with their deck in between rounds. It's loaning cards to someone who can't afford them. It's creating content for nothing other than the love of the game. It's taking a collection for a player after their cards are stolen. It's road trips with friends who, in our darkest moments, can mean more to us than we ever knew. It's rallying around community members who need extra help. It's late-night reminiscing in a parking lot with strangers.

It's improving the world for those around us, one match at a time.

It's trite, but it's true. It's not about the Magic—it's about the gathering.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

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