A Baby Millennial/Elder Zoomer who likes to think he enjoys the finer points of both generational groups. A big nerd who likes to play all games, tabletop and digital.
The State of Magic: The Gathering and Other Tabletop Games
Like many young people my age, I was quickly drawn in and enticed by the shiny cardboard gambling machine that is Magic: The Gathering. Though my first and primary love will always be Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic holds its own special place in my heart that can never be filled.
I’ve played more Magic in the past year than I had in any number of years prior. A now-ex roped me into playing Magic with him after years of not having anyone with whom I could play. Getting together with my husband meant that I had someone to play Magic with regularly available, and I’ve taken to indulging such a fantasy as frequently as I can.
Last year I finally got my first Magic tattoo, the Rakdos symbolfrom Return to Ravnica, on the left side of my neck. This act, to me, really cemented my return to the Magic community. Not that I’d ever really left, but that I wanted to display my allegiance to my people openly.
Magic — as well as Wizard of the Coast’s other primary tabletop IP, Dungeons & Dragons — has long been a source of comfort and social interaction for me. The games provided the space for me to express who I am and what I am about in a way that clicked for my brain.
Primarily, young people — the ones who are younger than me — are gravitating away from the tabletop sphere and onto digital platforms when gaming. Video games have taken over, especially with the “global situation” that kept us all holed up in our rooms for a year. I saw fewer and fewer new faces at my tables.
Not to devalue the friendships I’ve made, either; seeing the same faces is comforting and brings joy to the heart. But, as the average age of my tables gets older by the year, I wonder if by the time I am no longer a “young person”, this hobby will have died.
I don’t want that. I want to continue sharing the collaborative storytelling experience that tabletop RPGs provide. I want to be there to teach a new generation of players the ins and outs of Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh!. I want to see my favourite games continue to grow and evolve with the times.
Options like Magic: The Gathering Arena and Tabletop Simulator appeal to younger players by providing them with a digital experience of a tabletop game. But, I want those newer players who have been drawn in to experience these games as they were conceived.
With the “global situation,” my own tables have all moved to online platforms. Though this provides a fantastic bonus of not being limited to playing with people within a 20-kilometre radius, there will always be a place for the physical.
There is something innately different about physically rolling dice, physically shuffling and flipping cards, and roleplaying using your body language and facial expressions. There is no 1-to-1 replacement for these feelings.
It does not invalidate someone’s interest not to have experienced it in this way before. Still, I urge new players who have not done so to try it at least once. It is important to see the place that your hobbies came from. You may find a new group of people that will be ride or die for you for life.
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