White, The Lifelong Friends
The power of friendship that this game builds, lasts forever even after you leave the game and into other endeavors.
March 19, 2003
Today is Aaron’s birthday, he is turning 20. While Aaron is still fairly new to the game, he has become a well-known FNM grinder at his local store. He started playing Magic when his best friends in High School, Paul and Austin first introduced him to the game. Now the trio attends every FNM together as well as any GPs that were within a reasonable driving distance.
Today the group is out celebrating Aaron’s birthday, they have plans to hit up the local Fogo de Chão and play test for the tournament at their local LGS that was taking place on Saturday. Their local shop, the Lotus Brewery, is holding an extended tournament and the first prize was a playset of dual lands.
Its 10:15 p.m., Aaron, Paul, and Austin gets back from dinner and is ready to start play testing a few hours before heading to bed. They turned on the TV when they get back to their apartment to watch the evening news but all channels were broadcasting a special report from the White House. President George W. Bush is announcing to the American public the first stages of military operations to disarm Iraq.
After watching the short segment, Aaron says, “I think I’m going to enlist, it’s the right thing to do.” Austin decides that he would go with Aaron to the recruiting station the next day. Paul is an anti-war advocate and wishes his two friends would change their minds but at the same time he gave them his full support.
March 19, 2009
Today is Aaron’s birthday, he is turning 26. He is leaving the Army and transitioning to civilian life. As Aaron is welcomed home, the local news station wanted to interview him and Austin about their time in the Army and how they are adjusting to life back home. The two accepted the interview under one condition that their friend Paul would join as well.
Reporter: “Good Morning Springfield, I’d like to welcome our guests today, Aaron, Austin, and Paul. Aaron and Austin just got back after serving 2 tours overseas and Paul has been their longtime friend since High School. Thank you guys for joining us today.”
Aaron: “Thank you Ma’am, we are glad to be here.”
Reporter: “Aaron, first I want to say Happy Birthday! But tell us about your time in the Army and overseas”
Aaron: “Thank you. I enjoyed it very much it was a great honor serving this country. There were many hard days, I won’t lie, but I kept faith in my family, friends, and god and I am glad I made it back safe.”
Reporter: “Austin, what about you?”
Austin: “I really want to thank my friends back home especially Aaron and Paul for supporting me when I first joined. Even though I’m married now and have kids, I probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the two guys sitting next to me.”
Reporter: “Can you elaborate?”
Austin: “Sure, Aaron, Paul and I were roommates before Aaron and I joined the Army. We always hung out together and would spend all of our time playing this game called Magic: the Gathering. When we left for the Army, we thought that things wouldn’t be the same since we never get to see each other. But playing Magic, we developed this bond that we didn’t have with our other friends… it was kind of like our comfort zone that nobody else understood.”
Reporter: “Paul, tell us a little about you and your friends”
Paul: “Thanks guys for having me here… I feel honored sitting next to two American heroes that I can call my best friends. I currently work at an IT company here in town. After Aaron and Austin left for the Army, I lost my play group. But I still wanted to keep up with the game so I decided to go to our local store but things were never the same. After Aaron and Austin got stationed at their duty station, we would still keep in touch and talk about strategy and new cards that were coming out. We also were able to play Magic online with one another when it first started.”
Reporter: “It’s nice that you three managed to use this game of Magic to keep in touch, so did you guys stop after Aaron and Austin was on deployment?”
Aaron: “Actually no, when Austin and I were deployed to Iraq, Paul would FedEx us a bunch of cards. Unfortunately there are no Magic cards over in Iraq and Afghanistan, but one day I hope there will be. I hope one day we can all sit down at a duel table instead of fighting wars on the battlefield. However, a bunch of guys would laugh at first I’m playing a kid’s game but eventually we all started playing because there’s not much to do out there. It became our sanctuary that let us get away from what was really going on.”
Reporter: “What about you Austin?”
Austin: “Paul would FedEx us a bunch of cards as well. We really enjoyed it out there, while many guys played Poker… Magic began to pick up steam. It was great! We get blackouts all the time so guys who played Xbox and PlayStation would have nothing to do for days. Magic became more popular because it can be played anywhere, even when we hiked into the mountains. It really let me find home, even though I was so far away. We even tried to teach some locals how to play and they seem to like it too, especially the children. So when we left, we gave away most of our cards to the local school. I’m hoping that playing Magic, these kids can learn that we can fight in other ways without restoring to violence.”
Reporter: “That’s a touching story guys… so do you guys still play?”
Aaron: “Actually, we don’t anymore. Austin is married now with kids and I am expecting a child soon. We just really haven’t found the time anymore. We really appreciate and are thankful that the game kept us together but we moved on. However, the bond we formed even thousands of miles apart won’t change. We still call each other to catch up and these two are practically my brothers.”
Reporter: “Guys I like to thank you for your time, but I have to wrap things up. Austin, Paul… any last words?”
Austin: “I hope Hasbro sees this segment and I encourage them to send and Market the game in that area of the world. Many of those children can build the friendship Aaron, Paul, and I have. Who knows if they qualify for the Pro Tour… they can even leave the country, something they never dreamed of, a plane ticket is probably a year’s salary to them. But hey that’s all pie in the sky. Thanks again for having us.”
Reporter: “God bless you guys and thank you from a grateful nation.”
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” -Proverbs 17:17
At some point in our Magic journey we will have to step away from the game, for some of us, more than once. Some of us even spend more time playing and traveling with our Magic friends than our extended families. The hours add up and the bonds become stronger as we spend days and sometimes weeks in hotels, houses, and cars playing our favorite game. But what happens when we walk away from the game?
As we stop going to weekly tournaments and travel those long extended weekends, eventually that bond will wane. I realized in my years of playing Magic with my close friends that we often share many bonds outside of the game from movies, to other hobbies, to our values in life. Just because we leave the game does not mean we are gone from each other’s lives.
Some of my closest friends til this day are ones that I met playing Magic, it is no surprised that I lost touch with almost everyone in high school except for a few very close ones and my Magic friends. While we quit the game a few times in between we always found something else in common such as poker, video games, and watching football on a Sunday afternoon. Magic has a way of keeping and bringing people together.
I met one of my closest friends as our unit with the Ohio Army National Guard, we were training to become officers and it wasn’t pleasant by any means. The first few weeks of Officer Candidates School are meant to weed out the weak (mentally and physically) which means we get smoked and mind screwed for 14-16 hours a day. We became good friends but never hung outside of our drill days, until one day when I saw him step foot into our local LGS for a pre-release. I was shocked and surprised he was not only a fellow soldier but a soldier-gamer as well. Since then we became great friends and I know that even after we step away from the game that won’t change one bit.
My Magic friends have come through for me in times of need countless times and I don’t mean just lending me cards before a big tournament. Many are more than gracious to provide you with transportation, shelter, and even some beers if you’re in town. While our time in Magic is going to be limited, the friendship we build playing the game are not. Even after leaving the game, don’t lose touch with your fellow gamers. They are some of the best people you will meet in your life or mine.
The game of Magic has different meaning to each of us, for me it has been a game that I go to in order to find comfort and community. Playing the game can be frustrating but at the same time bring bliss and satisfaction. Because Magic is an unpredictable game, you can go from a local FNM player to playing on the Pro Tour to quitting the game all in less than a year.
But one thing that Magic offers will always be consistent: No matter where you go in the world, Magic will give you a medium to share your passion with thousands that you will probably never meet otherwise. You will meet new foes, friends, and maybe even a significant other. Once you decide leave the game, you shouldn’t see it as the end of your journey with nothing to show except for piles of boxes filled with cards you can’t sell. Your new adventure begins and just because you left the game you should always remember these 3 things as you embark on your new endeavors.
For my readers:
Thank you for everything and your support! I hope you enjoyed the series and I hope you guys go pick up the book Five People You Meet in Heaven.
I have some great ideas for future articles, stay tuned!
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