Embrace the Dork Side

by Patrick Maloney

What is the nerdiest thing you can do on a friday night?

I wouldn’t fault you for saying “going to the science museum” or “reading Harry Potter fan fiction,” both of which I have done before at some point in my life (I think this is what the kids are calling a “yolo”). However, I would like to posit that the most nerdgasmic fanboy-tastic thing that you can do on any given weekend is attending one of the fifteen or so Magic: the Gathering tournaments hosted every week in the Twin Cities.

For those who don’t know, Magic is a collectible card game. It’s like Pokemon cards for adults. In the game, you role-play as a wizard, casting spells and summoning dragons and all that good stuff. I have attended several of these events over the course of my lifetime (solely for the purpose of journalistic discourse, of course) and have learned a few things that lead me to believe that it is the most hardcore nerd hobby of all time.

1. It’s expensive. If you want to have any chance at consistently winning, you’ll have to spend somewhere between two hundred and a thousand dollars on assorted pieces of cardboard. The high barrier of entry keeps all the wanna-be, half-time nerds at the gate.

2. You don’t need to have friends. Tournaments pit you against strangers, which means that even if you aren’t looking for a forced human interaction, you’ll probably be playing against someone who is.

3. There is about a twenty-to-one male/female ratio. I wonder why.

4. Did I mention that you’re role-playing as a wizard, casting spells and summoning dragons and whatnot? That’s not all. Goblins? Check. Cyborgs? Check. Elves? Check. I’ll bet they’d even have hobbits if they could wrestle the rights out of Tolkien's cold, dead fingers.

5. Most tournaments take place on friday nights. They’re basically saying “we know you’re not doing anything better.”

Now, it may sound unappealing, but keep this in mind: the game has been around for twenty years, and it isn't going anywhere. Even after your partner leaves you, even after your dog dies, even after Madonna finally decides she's too old to wear lingerie in public, it will be there. Every friday night. Waiting.