Magic cards: Just for nerds?

Don’t believe what they say; Magic might be the game for you.

Jenna H. Beyer

In the past few months, IâÄôve had the following conversation with several close friends. Friend: So what have you been doing lately? Me: Actually, IâÄôve been playing a lot of Magic. Friend: Really? Magic? Me: Well, you know, itâÄôs pretty interesting âĦ Friend: Wow, seriously Jenna? Magic? Like Magic cards? Yes. My name is Jenna and I play Magic. And everyone around me seems to react differently to this news. True, it seems not so long ago my best friend and I would walk through the kitchen on summer days shouting âÄúnerd bombers!âÄù to her brother and his friends, colorful cards splayed between them at the table. Magic used to be, in my mind, something played only by people who never saw daylight and never drank anything other than Mountain Dew. But all of that stopped one recent November night when some friends decided to have a âÄúMagic night.âÄù The first thing I noticed was the utter lack of shame required âÄî there is no time to think about what you are actually saying when playing Magic. Things that sounded ridiculous in conversation, such as âÄútrample,âÄù âÄúvigilance,âÄù and âÄúTurtle Formation gives all of my creatures shroud for this turn,âÄù rolled right off the tongue in a display of dignity I suddenly looked forward to âÄúreplicating,âÄù if only for the joy of saying these things and of course hearing the grumbles of my foisted opponents. The next day, I went to the game store and bought some cards. And even though I know full well the fragile limits of my motion sickness, I drove home like âÄúBouncing BeeblesâÄù with âÄúhaste.âÄù I couldnâÄôt wait to open those shiny little packets of mystery and wisdom; I spent the next few hours in a state of relative nausea. The next few months were awash with wizardry. Sure, I had schoolwork to do, a job to keep and a Facebook account to check, but suddenly those things seemed less pressing. I was more interested in finding a solid play strategy and the card shop with clientele least likely to gawk at a twenty-something woman browsing through the creatures bin. Obviously, Magic contains the addictive qualities of many games, especially those that seem to be thought of as strictly for nerds, but it has its advantages. ItâÄôs an excellent escape from technology; you can play anywhere with a flat surface, and you donâÄôt have to spend hours downloading add-ons for your tired Rock Band song list, crying when the Warcraft server goes down or experiencing the weird feeling your head gets after being toasted by a TV or computer screen. Magic is strategy and luck and can give you an interesting perspective on your own conflict strategies and critical thinking skills. What does it mean that I took to playing with white cards, full of protection spells and clergy while my friends chose black, the color of death, decay and sacrifice? Am I the next Gandhi? Are they all secret misanthropes? As adults, we forget the importance of face-to-face games âÄî that they allow for serious fun and brain exercise while reaffirming valuable lessons, like not worrying what other people think. In a recent visit to the official campus Magic club, I asked the groupâÄôs resident expert, Stephen Berg, how he felt about the stereotype that Magic is only for nerds. âÄúOnly for nerds?âÄù he asked with a knowing chuckle. âÄúTry learning the rules!âÄù IâÄôm not sure if that confirms or denies the assertion âÄî stay tuned for a column on the meaning of the word âÄúnerdâÄù âÄî so I challenge you to put your pride aside and take the Magic plunge. Jenna H. Beyer welcomes comments at [email protected]