i’m a gamer. i’ll take that identity upon myself, though i’m not sure that my definition of the word jives with that of most who would use it nowadays. You see, i’m not actually talking about video games when i say it. Now don’t get me wrong, i love playing video games. i own an X-Box 360, and i pay for X-Box Live. i just don’t consider video games to be my primary gaming outlet. As video games go, my usage comes in starts and fits. i’ll play one day for four or five hours, then won’t even touch my console for two or three weeks at a time. While most of that comes down to the vicissitudes of my usually-packed schedule meeting the myriad leisure activities that vie for attention in what little free time i can manage to carve out for myself in any given week, the fact of the matter is that i really am a social gamer at heart. When i play games i want to do it with other people. And while it is true that i can play online multiplayer on X-Box Live, let’s just say the social interaction on that particular medium is less than stimulating at best. Moreover, it lacks the authenticity and sense of connectedness present in real personal interactions.
i prefer games that are played with people in person, which may seem odd, considering that i’m a pretty strong introvert. The fact of the matter is that introversion doesn’t imply no personal interactions at all; it implies personal interactions with a small number of close friends… exactly the sort of crowd with whom one would play a game! So what kind of social games am i talking about? Multiplayer video games and board games can be fun for a more festive atmosphere, and great for blowing off steam and just laughing and having fun together, but my most meaningful gaming experiences are a bit more mentally stimulating than that. The games that i like best are the kind with stories and worlds into which i can immerse myself. The sorts of games where i can jump inside the head of some character and be someone else for a while, while my friends do the same. Normally this takes the form of good, old-fashioned pencil and paper roleplaying games, where all you need is a character sheet, a few dice, and a bit of imagination.
This brings us to Magic: The Gathering. One of the first (if not the actual first) in what is now a long line of so-called Collectible Card Games, Magic combines relatively easy-to-learn gameplay and reasonably fast pacing with the immersive world and stories that i crave so much. It’s like the best of both worlds between the quick social party atmosphere games and the more immersive and mentally stimulating RPGs. i won’t go into too much detail about structure or gameplay on here, so as not to bore any readers who are already familiar with the game. Most of the information i would put down here is already on the site i linked to. There are many different breeds of Magic players. Probably most prominently visible to the public are the players who enter tournaments to win cash and prizes. These are the players who seek to get under the game’s hood mechanics-wise and devise the most efficient strategies and card combinations. There are the players who play for the card art, and who can blame them? This game has some of the most beautiful fantasy art i’ve seen anywhere, and it seems like it constantly improves. Then there are players like me, who play for the in-game world and the card flavor text (the italic text that many cards feature at the bottom that has nothing to do with gameplay, but instead links them thematically to the story).
It really didn’t take much for me to fall in love with the in-game continuity of Magic. The idea of your deck of cards representing your wizard’s spellbook, with each card being a spell that you can cast is just a lot of fun. And i really enjoy the color system in this game. While it’s true that having color-coded powers with a different source and focus for each color is really nothing new in the least (the expanded Green Lantern continuity, the light and dark sides of the force, hell the very concept of “Black Magic” is older than print), the way it’s set up in Magic is really creative and fun to play around with. It also makes for yet another way of expressing my personality typology: by figuring out which colors i have the most philosophical affinity for, and realizing that it can be much more complex than one might think.
For example, at first glance, i find that i have the highest personal affinity for Blue. But that doesn’t tell the whole story of my personality. Blue represents my intellectual nature and the tight control i impose upon myself for various reasons, but what about my emotions… my passions… the very things i find myself needing to maintain control over? That’s a very Red trait, and I do have quite a bit in common with Red as well… Okay, so i’m Red/Blue… but that still doesn’t feel like a perfectly complete picture of my personality (though they are definitely my two strongest affinities by a longshot, and the ones i claim most readily to keep things simple). I also have a strong affinity for nature. While it’s true that i prefer to live in cities or at least reasonably large suburban areas because of the cultural opportunities and options afforded in such areas, i often feel most at peace when i get away from all of that and go camping, or walking in the forest. i love climbing trees, and i can hide really well in nature (as evidenced by my performance at the Subbie Hunt a couple of years ago. And while i don’t think i could ever feel fully fulfilled living in a complete rural area out in the country, there is far too much Green influence in my life to be ignored. So in that case, it’s Red/Blue/Green, and this seems to be a tolerably complete picture of my inner being. While my desire to submit in relationships smacks of White, i also tend to buck the rules (albeit often subtly or covertly) in my day-to-day if i find them unjust or unfair, and my submission feels more like a function of my passions than a simple desire to have structure and rules imposed. And while there is some Black in my personality, again, it is not enough to claim it as one of “my” colors. So Red/Blue/Green it is.
Apologies for the typo, i didn’t create this. Someone else created these images for every triple color combination (as well as a personality test that gets you one of them as a result). Reading over this description… yep, that’s me! And reading over the other possible descriptions, this one definitely fits the best.
Anyway, this entry really kind of got away from me. i started out with the intention of writing about Magic: The Gathering, but with a slightly different focus. Over the course of writing, though, i realized that i would have to lay this groundwork before i moved on to the meat of the other subject. And, to be honest, getting all this down in one place was really a fun blog entry to write. But it feels like it’s starting to get a bit long-winded, so i’ll save the rest for the next installment, in which i will be bidding a fond farewell to Ravnica…