The date is July 28, 2020. And after returning from a three-day camping trip, I have planned to sit down and play some Magic – only to find that I can’t. You see, Comcast has decided (randomly) to cancel my internet. Which means the only methods I still had for playing Magic in the midst of the pandemic are gone.
My internet service should be restored within a couple days. So I will have the ability to play Magic again soon (hopefully, well before you’re reading this). But at nearly any other Magic-playing point in my life, I would not have hesitated to drive to my local game shop and play in a Draft, Modern tournament, or Commander event to scratch my Magic-playing itch. Given two or three days in which to find an event to attend, I would have easily found one I wanted to play in.
But now, I can’t play Magic without internet access. And I’m finding that, given how my day is already dominated by screentime and non-social activities, I’m not really that excited to play Magic Arena, anyway. I have access to Commander play and my playgroup via Tabletop Simulator, but even that is not the same as just sitting down and playing Magic with friends. Staring at a virtual tabletop and talking with people I cannot see, even my best friends, just does not recreate the feeling of slinging cards and bullshit in person. So even the prospect of playing Magic socially, over the internet, just doesn’t excite me.
Which makes me wonder how long it will be until I just don’t play Magic at all? I play Magic because I enjoy building decks. But for the last four months, I have barely considered buying new cards in paper. I play Magic because I enjoy socializing, especially within an established context. But for the last four months, most of my Magic play has consisted of me staring at a screen, alone, in my living room. I play Magic because I enjoy chatting with my friends about the latest cards, decks, bannings, and designs. But as I find myself becoming less interested in playing the game, I find myself less interested in keeping up with the “news” of it all. And so I don’t have as much to say about where Magic is, where it’s going, or even what I want from it.
What Is Magic’s Future?
What I really wonder about though, even more than the fate of my own relationship with Magic, is how common my story is. How many other players have considered just dropping Magic altogether? How will that affect game stores’ futures, when they are finally allowed to host events again? How have Summer 2020’s sets sold, and has Wizards begun adapting their release schedule and product model to account for the fact that, more than likely, this pandemic will continue another year? Is Magic: the Gathering going to survive 2020?
The answer to that last question is likely Yes. I believe Magic will survive the mess that is 2020. I think it is too good of a game for it not to survive. But I know that my relationship with Magic has changed drastically, to the point where I don’t know when I’ll bother buying paper cards again. Or whether I’ll still be playing Magic Arena when Zendikar Rising releases. Or whether you’ll be reading new entries in this blog come 2021. Without its real world benefits, Magic is losing its luster for me. And I really wonder how many other Magic players feel the same.