June 14, 2016

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The Musings of the Madman: The Balm of Gaming

With the horrific events of Orlando just days behind us, it's easy to despair and wonder how our gaming world can have any importance in the grand scheme of things. It's precisely because gaming is a central part of our lives, however, that it can help us progress to the next levels of normalcy, and here's why:

Inclusivity breeds kinship.

Simply put, you can walk into any of the town's gaming stores and find a niche for yourself. I'd hazard that there is as high a level of LGBTQ occurence in the Magic community as there is in any other gaming sphere, and perhaps higher. I remember in my "younger" days, it might have been a surprising encounter but no more. The kinship that forms afterward can only lead to greater diversity and, financially, increased attendance to events and higher levels of casual play for all involved.

More importantly, Magic offers the perfect area for open play. From the creativity of Commander play to the serious grinding of various PTQ events, the game allows you to find out more about yourself, your likes and dislikes and how to transpose them into an area that pushes you to excel.

Commander's multiplayer nature fosters integration.

By having four players at your table, you are immediately forced to set aside your prejudices for the game to advance. That doesn't mean that rivalry itself ceases to exist (quite to the contrary), but it does make initiating friendships that much easier, whereas in a duel you might be more focused on the task at hand and the subsequent moving on.

Commander's looser structure also allows players to exhibit a little more creativity if they so wish, maybe even taking junk rares and uncommons to make the theme more robust. Yes, there is always a little give to make the deck playable, but that's true for any format. Because groups tend to assemble like-minded individuals, you set the own level of "brokenness", if you'll allow that term, and go from there.

Gaming is a needed release.

Stress accumulates at an incredible pace these days, and we need a way out. While one can channel said stress toward productive work, too much will simply send it outward toward the environment, with potential deleterious effects to family, friends and surroundings. Once again, gaming excels. By forcing your mind in a different direction you open perhaps less used problem-solving avenues within yourself. An impulse buy at a store can turn into a beloved companion, or maybe just gather dust until the game pieces find later use.

In times of crisis, games can be lifesavers. Pick up your favourite console or EDH deck and gather some friends, play and talk ribald while boasting of your achievements and arguing over whom won what when and so on. We've all done it, we'll all keep doing it. In the end we'll likely forgot a ton of stuff we learned in school, but the games we played, the friends we played them with and the stores we bought them from? Those will stay with us a long time.

As I hope you all will as well.

Until next time, may you find a game you like and may you house-rule the living end out of it.