No matter their social status, gender, race or
demographic, all players of Magic: The Gathering, a fantasy trading card game
in which players fight on a fantastical ethereal plane, have the same thing in
common. Someone invited them to come over and play, and they were enamored with
the community and friendships formed by the game.
Jordan Sisson, a student at the University of Wisconsin
– Stevens Point, got into Magic because his friends play.
Anthony Warzalla, a Stevens Point native, got into
Magic because his girlfriend plays.
Juan-Diego Hernandez, a senior at UWSP, learned how to
play Magic in the lobby of his dorm.
Sam Braatz, a UWSP student and employee at Galaxy Comics,
got into Magic when he was an 11-year-old stuck in the middle of the Pokémon
craze. Some of his preteen friends who he still plays Magic with to this day,
taught him how to play on a fieldtrip when they were supposed to be doing
“Magic is easily the most popular trading card game at
Galaxy Comics,” Braatz said. “We run Magic tournaments four days a week and
have a thriving community of players that show up to play. There is also a huge
Magic community in Stevens Point that exists outside of Galaxy comics. There
are gaming clubs, communal groups that meet at Taco Bell and a huge number of
casual enthusiasts that play with their friends.”
Braatz plays as an outlet for creative and competitive
urges and says he would not play if not for the people involved with the scene.
“I have met so many awesome people because of this
game,” Braatz said. “I also find Magic to be intellectually stimulating. It is
kind of like playing chess except there are thousands of different pieces to
play with instead of six,” Braatz said.
If Magic is anything, it is complex. There are
thousands of cards and nearly infinite combinations to put into a deck that a
player may use. No two games are ever alike.
“I think Magic is very comparable to a sport,” Braatz
said. “Magic is a game, and ultimately the goal of any game is to win. But
within the bounds of this goal are people who play the game at all levels of
competitiveness, from casual pick-up games with their friends to globetrotting
sponsored professionals. The typical reasons that people participate in a
sport— for competition, personal growth, fun, the community, to hang out with
their friends—are all valid reasons I have heard others use to explain their
continued interest in Magic: the Gathering.”
The game is similar to sports and music in the way it
draws people together.
“Like in music, you don’t know everybody, but because
of the music you bond. When you’re experiencing something you’re all into
together, you start to bond when you normally wouldn’t,” Sisson said.
Hernandez says he has met countless friends playing
“As I play the game, I continue to meet more and more
people who play, and new friendships will form from that,” Hernandez said. “I
feel as though that it is similar to sports in the sense that they are drawn
together because they hold interest in a certain game or activity.”
Even though the game is very popular, it is also very
“It’s a little different culture. Most people think
we’re all nerds,” said Warzalla.
Hernandez believes this is because others have
marginalized the game.
“I think that people have that negative stereotype
because they usually jump to conclusions without actually stopping to try and
understand what the game is really about,” Hernandez said.
Many students are incredibly passionate about this
game, just as passionate as students are about the Packers, their favorite band
or their major. While an outsider looking in may not understand the
complexities of Magic: The Gathering or the immense story behind it, one thing
consistently stands out: the enthusiastic, welcoming, kind and fun community
that surrounds it.