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Benefits of Social Play

    I'm sure most of you reading this are fully aware of all the potential
monetary advantages of playing in tournaments and the like.  Yeah, you can
win prizes.  Yeah, you can get a fat check.  You can even work to get your
ranking up and/or get enough DCI/Pro tour points to get qualified for life. 
But what are some of the other experiences that come with competitive play? 

    First of all, look at the social aspects.  For lack of a better term, one
of my customers likes to call game stores, "the singles bars of the gaming
world."  In a sense, he is right.  If your game spot is worth it's salt, when
you walk in, it's a lot like Cheers.  You know the store owner.  You know all
of the regulars.  A new player can walk in and catch a game with anyone.  You
can come in and talk strategy, go over decklists, and just compare notes on
the game.  Other times, you can just come in to shoot the breeze with your
friends.  By playing in competitive events, you get a bit of bonding and
quality time.  you get to share your hobby, and for some a lifestyle, with
others that feel the same way you do about your game.  Some people have a
larger flair for the game than others, but you all feel at least somewhat
passionate about it in some way.  Think about it.  You have to have something
within this game driving you and/or peaking your curiosity if you are reading
this.

    Social events add a bit of spice to something that can become repetitive.
 If you continually play the same people, with the same cards, with the same
ideas, and most likely, the same decks, the game can get real boring real
fast.  There is a likely chance that people that interact more on a social
level with any hobby or game enjoy more and stick with it longer.  In
general, social interaction just makes the game more entertaining.

    Participating in tournaments and other social events also opens a lot of
avenues that may not normally be available to you.  You might find out two or
three of the store regulars are going to a Pro Tour Qualifier you wanted to
travel to and they are offering up a ride.  There might be a card you were
looking for, but no one in your regular game group has it.  There might even
be a card you want to get rid of, but not of your gaming group wants it.  You
also get to see other decks and ideas, that you might not get exposed to
otherwise.

    Another thing to consider are the long term friendships and bonds that
are created.  I am sure many of you tournament regulars can relate to this. 
I know that I personally have had many people that I loved to play and
disliked playing over the years.  However, even the people I didn't like
playing against all that much still had somewhat of an appeal to them.  Maybe
as a gamer.  Maybe as a fellow player.  For some unknown reason though, you
feel a little bit of a bond with those people sometimes.  On guy I thought
really annoyed me many years ago, but as time went by, we started to become
pretty good friends.  Funny thing was, our whole rivalry started because I
was a Dallas Cowboys fan and he was a Houston native (Oilers/Titans fan), and
many of the qualifiers were held in the Houston area.  It really had nothing
to do with Magic, but the common bond of the game brought us to the same
place.

    Something to remember is that most of the people that participate in
these events do more than just play Magic.  A good example to use would be
one of our cash tournaments.  Average turnout is about 30 players.  Just off
the top of my head, the occupations represented in any one of our events
includes: 2 lawyers, 2 internet consultants, 1 food service personnel, 2
waitstaff, 2 bookstore employees, 4 students, 1 convenient store manager, 2
computer programmers, and 1 public school teacher.  And that's just off the
top of my head.  There are a lot of different personalities out there.  There
are a lot of different people out there that play this game. 

    Just participating in social Magic events shows you the different kinds
of people that enjoy the game.  You find many people you can relate to.  You
also get to see all the different reasons that people play.  For some, the
one Friday Night Magic tournament they play in is there one guilty pleasure
for the week.  For others, it's just a neat hobby and pastime.  For some it's
a great way to test out decks before you take them home and sash your
neighbors face in with it (I mean this metaphorically, as in winning a game. 
I would never condone violence).  To each his own.  Different things make
different people tick.  There are often times, we go bowling, play
basketball, or get together at my place to watch wrestling Pay-per-views. 
Many times, it's just open invite to whoever is in the store and is
interested at the time.  The fellowship always seems to find away to extend
itself out a long way from the table.

    Even now, we have United States Nationals happening as you read this. 
It's a chance for dedicated players to win the opportunity to represent our
nation on the World level.  It's amazing to think about, but this simple game
offers so much to so many different people in so many different ways.

    Just remember that the game has different meanings to different people. 
Don't think about it in a linear way.  Pre-releases, Friday Night Magic,
sealed deck, booster draft, constructed, Standard, Extended; there is
something for everyone.  Try to enjoy the moment of each game more.  Try to
take in more of the tournament experience.  Try not to let a new person walk
away from a tournament that you played in without getting an introduction
from you.  Expand your horizons.  Enjoy it for all it's worth.

Hasta la bye bye,

DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn@pojo.com


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Biography

name: DeQuan Watson

    Many readers have gathered a lot of information about me through my
writings.  For those of you that haven't though, this should tell you a
little more. 

    I'm 23 years old and I own my own business. Well, more accurately I own a
game store.  The Game Closet, my store is one of the premiere places to play
in the Texas.  I play Magic on a pretty regular basis.  I help people build
decks and teach the game to people multiple times a week.  Owning a store is
neat, because it gives me another perspective to write my articles from.  I
can usually tell what the average player likes and can judge some of the
tendencies of the average player a little better.

    However, I know a decent bit about pro level play as well.  I myself have
played on the Pro Tour.  I have multiple Top 8 finishes at Pro Tour
Qualifiers.  I also have made Day Two at two Grand Prix tournaments.  I was
also invited to the Event horizons Invitational last year.  These are not
stellar achievements, but high enough to let you know I have my head on
straight when talking about the game. I also spend lots of time each week
talking to, e-mailing, or chatting with top level players.  I get to see
their perspective on a lot of things as well.  Between the two, I think I get
a good sense of balance of the game.

    Most importantly, I still enjoy the game for the sake of the game itself.
 I like the time, the competition, and the general interaction of players.  I
plan to be playing it until it goes away...if it ever does.

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