Shape and support the gaming community you want to be in
I am one of the biggest geeks I know. I have tattoos from some of my favourite anime shows and video games. I spend a large portion of my free time gaming, playing Magic: The Gathering or writing about them. My idea of a great night is either spent in quietly with my fiance and my kitten, having some friends round for a night of couch multiplayer and Munchkin or going to my local gaming store (LGS from now on), Warez in my case, for an evening of multiplayer Commander games and probably a crazy board game or twelve. One of the best side effects of playing Magic is the fact that I have made a lot of new friends, like minded people who I can have a laugh with and play the game with.
Ever since I started going to FNM at my LGS and meeting more and more of my local MTG community I have had the chance to help shape what the store’s atmosphere is. Because whenever you are part of a community you shape it. By taking part in it you are a big part of what everyone else sees if they look in. This is a responsibility that I think some people don’t take seriously enough. In some parts of the Magic community you’ll find negative attitudes towards anyone looking to get into it or new players. Throwing around terms like noob aren’t constructive and neither is constantly looking for the best “value” when trading. Sometimes the value of something is more than financial. In fact when it comes to having a hobby the value should certainly be far more than just finance.
It sounds silly but the best value in any hobby is the people you meet. I spend a fair bit of time at my LGS for several reasons. For starters the people that work their are all friends of mine which helps a lot. Next is that, due to this fact, the people that come in are on a similar wavelength and equally geeky and friendly. I can pop into the store as long as it is open and nine times out of ten I can get a game or a conversation started on something I enjoy. It hasn’t always been like this so I like to support my store in whatever way I can. After all, without the store, I have no where to meet new players and keep playing Magic.
It’s all fun and games until, actually it is just fun and games
When you are playing a card game it is important to keep in mind it is meant to be fun. Sure there are people who have made a living off of it, sure there are people who take it very seriously, but it is important to keep in mind that it is a game first and foremost. A lot of people play it for fun not for a living. So keep it fun for everyone, that way new people will want to start playing. New players can only be a good thing for any gaming community, they contribute, they keep the scene fresh and fun– can you imagine playing the same 8 players over and over again? And what happens when those people leave the game? Which they’ll inevitably do.
If you can keep new players coming in then they add to the size of your Magic groups, they might play differently, prefer a different card type or creature type. Anything that keeps the game going and going strong is to be applauded and encouraged. So keep it fun. Things like Commander nights and the new Kaladesh Booster League are great ways of getting people to play Magic for fun, make the most of different ways of playing and play with cards you normally wouldn’t. It is our job as players to help pass on the enthusiasm to new people and keep the community growing.
It is important to keep it fun to encourage new players to join and to keep them coming back. No one wants to come into a group only to be beaten constantly because no one understands how to help a player grow or how to have fun. When a new players comes into a store looking to get into Magic, it is in everyone’s best interests to make sure they have a good time. They probably aren’t looking to be hyper competitive straight away, they want to learn how to play and enjoy themselves. Your hobby shouldn’t be a giant source of stress for you, it is meant to be cathartic and enjoyable. So play nice and be patient, remember what it was like when you first started?
Be the Magic player you want to play against
When it comes down to it Magic players can often be ridiculed based on outdated cliches of who we are and what we choose to do. You can push past anything if you are nice. It sounds incredibly silly, but it is so important to be a positive influence if you want your community to be a positive one. We all have the ability to shape our scene, to be more inclusive and we should always try and do so. It makes no sense to want our reputation as Magic players to be negative, it does no one any favours if everyone thinks we are all negative people. So whenever a new player wants to join, make sure you are actively nice to them.
Addressing the way that we are when we play is important. Being friendly is an easy thing to do and it helps tournaments feel more welcoming with very little effort. In between rounds talking to your opponent can really help reduce any negative feelings for whoever loses. Talking about things that aren’t Magic related can be a huge boost to. Not just telling the same stories again and again about an interaction from an earlier round, actually talking to each other like people rather than just as MTG players will help the new situation to feel be more “normal”.
Be a player that you would like to play in a tournament, be gracious in victory and defeat and try to remember it is a game. It is easier said than done I know, but it will help a lot because it makes everything more positive. If we can become a more positive community then people will want to join, it isn’t something that should be shunned. If we can make ourselves better than we can keep growing and attracting good people to the game. Be positive when you are enjoying your hobby and other people can enjoy it as well.
Home is where the sleeves are
The lynch pin of any community is it’s LGS. It is the place where everyone meets up to play, discuss and have fun with MTG. If you can make sure that you do your bit to keep your store friendly then more people with come. If they see that you are being positive then they will do the same, you can be a major part in making the community inclusive and fun for any level of player. As such it is really important to be a part of your store. They can’t survive without you so make sure you help them do so. After all, without them you have nowhere nice to play Magic and you can’t meet new players.
To help the atmosphere in your store you can do all of the things I have already mentioned above, and you can always do more too. Take friends to the store who are interested in the game, a good place to play is the fastest way to convert someone to the game. If they know they have somewhere awesome to hang out and meet new people while learning and then enjoying a new hobby then it makes more sense for them to do so. If your store has an event coming up it doesn’t hurt to share it on Facebook or tell your friends about it. The more the merrier after all.
Unfortunately many of us do not have the option to play Magic every night in stores, so make sure that if you are able to then do your best to support the events on offer. Make sure you do your best to be the best player you can be while your LGS does it’s best to keep everyone happy and keep itself running.
Your LGS is there as a business, and it is more often than not the central point of the Magic: the Gathering community in your area. A community that you are part of if you play there. So you need to support it. You need to make sure it can thrive, so be positive, show your support with your actions and by spending money to support them. Be part of what you love and turn your community into something to be proud of.
Community Question: What do you do to support your local scene? What do you think can help the Magic community thrive?
Thanks for reading,