I Quit Magic: The Gathering, Then Learned A Valuable Lesson
I took a break from Magic: The Gathering because I was in a dark place; mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t all there. It wasn’t limited to the time I spent playing the game, but it certainly came out at its worst when I did. I originally wrote this as a kind of diary entry to help me think through things, but I’ve edited it a little and decided I want to share it as I am in a better place now, and I’m slowly coming back to the game.
Recently I’ve come back to Magic: The Gathering after a period where I had quit the game. Up until a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t played a single game of Magic in six months. I know that might not seem like a big deal to some of you out there, I mean at the end of the day six months isn’t exactly a long time in the scale of things, but what you need to understand is how involved I was with the game nine months ago.
Back then I would attend every FNM, I think the only ones that I had missed in a whole year were because I was out of the country at the time, I would even travel hours on the bus or train to attend PPTQs and GPTs across the region. So to just stop playing, for me, was a big deal.
But I’m happy that I did…
My relationship with the game had become unhealthy. I wasn’t getting the same level of enjoyment I got from the game when I started playing, and when I did play I would get tense and stressed. Whenever I made the even smallest misplay I had lost the ability to just shake it off, learn from it, and move on. Instead I would get angry with myself to an unreasonable level and send myself into a tailspin.
Eventually I lost the motivation to go to events. I had managed to disillusion myself from the game, and because of how I’d been, I’d isolated myself from the rest of the local player base too. (While I was never intentionally rude to anyone I ever played I’m sure that there were outward signs of the way I was feeling and dealing with ‘salty’ opponents is never enjoyable.) So over the course of about three months, I stopped attending regular events, only showing up for pre-releases, and then finally I stopped playing all together.
And that was how it stayed for quite a while, until just about a month ago. I was online one day when I stumbled across a Facebook group some of my old friends were part of to do with the new shop located in Birmingham (Manaleak.com Birmingham (UK) Magic: The Gathering Players Group) and I joined it, mostly out of curiosity to see what was happening in the Magic community I’d been so involved with not long ago.
In that group I saw a post about a Modern win-a-box that was on a date that I happened to be passing through Birmingham on anyway as I would be travelling back from MCM Comic Con in Manchester the day before. I had been planning to sell my Modern deck for a while and just hadn’t got round to it, and I decided this was a good time to give it one last run out as well as an opportunity to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while.
I attended the tournament and had a great time, I did relatively okay, but that’s besides the point. I had fun playing Magic, I had fun meeting people, and I left there with a reignited love for this game. I had made mistakes throughout the day but they didn’t matter, not really. I managed to keep my mind clear and even, and in defeat kept a level head.
Now I know that I’m going to have to be careful, that mentality I once had, it will never be fully gone. I know I’ll always have to be vigilant in case I end up slipping back into that dark mind set. But I’m optimistic, the factors that lead me down that path in the first place are different now. I’m not trying to take the game as seriously as I was back then, I was expecting success and was frustrated when I wan’t getting it in those terms. Now I know I have a lot to learn, and once I’m there that success will indeed come, I just have to be patient and understand that failure is part of the journey.
But why risk it?
If I know that there is a chance that I could end up in a bad place again, then why even risk it and come back to the game at all? The simple reason is the community, Magic: The Gathering is just a game played by great people, yes Magic brought out the worst in me, but it also brought out the best in me, the side of me that is social, the side of me that makes and effort to get out of the house and make new friends. So as long as I stay focused on why I started playing in the first place, I don’t think there’s really any real risk at all.
Thanks for reading,