Friday, August 14, 2009

First Level Magic: The Community

It's been some time now since Patrick Chapin released his e-Book, Next Level Magic, which inspired this series of articles. It really struck me how much information (good, and bad) there is for people looking to "up their game". This plethora exist in stark contrast to just how little information, of any kind exist for the player just starting out, and wanting to get off on the right foot. I've taken the liberty of linking the other articles on this subject below. While they can be read in any order, I would suggest going back and reading them in the order written. They will probably make (slightly) more sense this way.

Okay, now that you are all caught up, I have saved what I think to be the most important topic of a newly budding magic career for last. Today, I would like to talk about community. I think Abe Sargent said it best with "Magic is about Community, without it we are nothing". If you really stop and think about it, this really rings true at a fairly deep level. If we didn't have a community to tie into, this game would never really evolve in any manner. Ideas wouldn't grow, advanced decks wouldn't happen, all because we would simply be goldfishing our decks alone in the dark some place.

So what is it that makes up a community. Not surprisingly it is the group of people you interact with in regards to the game. It's the people you play the game with around you kitchen table, it's the folks down at your local game store with binders full of super secret tech. It's the folks at major events, be it a Pre/release, FNM, or Gencon. It is also the folks you pall around with at 3am down at Waffle House on Saturday morning, after the store "OPEN" sign has faded from view, or that come to the house on Thursday night, to test the monstrosity that they will grace the weekend tournaments with. It is also the folks, on the forums, email list, and chat rooms, with which you interact. For some people it's playing online, and if that works for you great, but I don't.

It's also the folks, behind the scenes, that makes or allows all this stuff to happen. This starts with Wizards, and flows down through the wholesale distributors. It's the folks at the local game store, that put up with our silly crap, often at all hours, to allow us a place to play, resources to purchase, outlets often to sell/trade what we don't need.

Next time you are in your local store, smile and say thanks to the person behind the counter. I'd bet they make minimum wage, and probably couldn't care less about "your" game, but they are there helping you make it all happen. It's the owners of these local stores, that do so much to make it all happen. For heaven sake, buy something. The owners (who may or may not be the person behind the counter), have to keep the place in the black. That space, tables, chairs, man power, lights, and A/C (when your lucky), aren't free, and if you want it to be there next time, crack open the pockets from time to time, and make a purchase. Yes, the latest XYZ-dot-com, sells the exact same thing for a nickle less, but they aren't likely to open a shop in your neighborhood, and give you a place to play. What ever it is, you can find some way to support the stores financial interests, because if you don't, one day there may not be a store any more.*

Okay, sorry, that turned into a soapbox for a minute there, and I didn't even warn you. I now return to your regularly scheduled educational/entertainment experience.

The community is also made up of another special group of people, who really do contribute so much to the events, and education side of things. These of course are the judges, that often run events, and educate the players, basically for "the love of the game"! That's right folks, aside from the generosity of Wizards, and Tournament Organizers, these folks don't get paid. So don't whine, do not complain, and certainly don't do something to make an @$$ of yourself. These people are there strictly for the good of the community.

So now that we have defined who and what make up a good community, they next question is why is it important. Magic really is a near perfect definition of community. Not only is the whole, often more then the sum of it's parts, but we grow more, the more we grow.

Yes, go back and read that last part again, because that is the whole thing. My next First Level Magic will begin to build on our "who" is the community, and begin to expound on the "why". I will begin to attempt to define why community is important, how it benefits you, and why you should try to benefit it. If I may blatantly steal from some one of my least favorite Presidents, "Don't ask what your Community can do for you, ask what you can do for your Community!"


* PS: I'm not saying don't buy things from XYZ-dot-com. They are a part of the broader community too, and need to stay in business also. All I'm saying is, you need to find a way to support your local store too. Look around the shop, I am certain you will find something, some way to help keep them in the black.

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