Reasons for Gaming Survey

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The AVR Tidewatch survey includes something that's both neat and a bit ominous, a series of three-way picks where they're trying to gauge the reasons why you game.  I don't remember exactly how they were grouped or how I answered (not knowing which questions were yet to come), but I did write down what all the reasons they proferred were, and am now putting them in my own order of preference, as a much more straightforward way of expressing my priorities.  I encourage others to do the same.

00.  Because it's easy to learn(This is so far from being a positive in my book that it's not even funny, though I recognize it has certain advantages in terms of other priorities, such as the community-building.  However I see it as being something to actively avoid striving for and perhaps manage to achieve through happy coincidence, while the exact opposite is what has happened.)

10.  To win.  (While I technically try to win while playing, it's far from my highest priority and I consider it one of the worst things to care about while gaming, only necessary at all so the game can eventually end.  If you want competition, go into the job market; recreation doesn't benefit from being cutthroat.)

9.  Because it's difficult to master.  (Being easy to master wouldn't be a positive either, but "difficult" is never a good word to me.  The line between "challenging" and "frustrating" is razor-thin and I'd rather not stray too close to it.)

8.  To be part of a community.  (It's nice to have some potential to make fleeting friendships over a game table, but ultimately I am a solitary person and don't especially crave companionship.  If I want a really good "buddy" game I'll play Apples to Apples; Magic needs to be able to entertain me during the 90+% of my personal time that I'm alone, or it simply isn't entertaining me.)

7.  Because it's quick to play.   (This is marginally advantageous but largely a source of frustration to me; the game shouldn't take an hour, but it shouldn't take five minutes either, and the modern school of design theory leans hard toward accomplishing the latter.  I can't play Arkham Horror or the like all that often because they take hours to complete and part of an hour even to just set up, so quickness can be an advantage - but ultimately Arkham Horror is worth several hours every once in a while, while Magic might be worth an hour if it only it wasn't so likely to end in five minutes, and vice versa.)

6.  To express my intelligence/expertise.  (Obviously this is a priority for me; I only ranked it as low as I did because it smacks of pretention and snobbery, which ought not to be sanctioned.  I don't enjoy being "smarter than other people"; I only enjoy being "smart", and that's an important distinction, which absolutely everyone in the world ought to be made to understand and embrace.)

5.  To escape.  (Yes, yes, yes!  Among my general priorities this is huge; it ranks so far from the peak of this list only because Magic is at best mildly good at providing it.  When we get electronic cards that play little movies with music and such, maybe then it'll be better at taking us away from the stresses of daily life; for now it doesn't really compare to the other entertainment options in this regard.)

4.  For the strategy of the game.  (Like my penchant for solving mazes, navigating the strategic possibilities of magic is enjoyable to me, but I don't want to overemphasize its value because of potential negative connotations - like I said, "difficult" is not a good thing to me.  I don't want to "defeat" a maze or "solve" the game of Magic; they are intricate and intriguing challenges for me to explore, but I don't want them to frustrate me.)

3.  For the creative outlet. (Definitely a major factor to me, to the slightly limited extent that MTG allows for it; homebrew design and deck building both offer possibilities, but still far from limitless ones.)

2.  To relax and have fun.  (Ultimately, nothing else about magic is worthwhile IMO if it becomes a source of stress or hard feelings; competitiveness and frustration are to be avoided like the plague, as life is more than difficult enough without having a freaking card game get on our nerves or demand we take it seriously.)

1.  (To appreciate the...) Intricate story and plot.  (This is the one aspect in which Magic can be truly unique; another game can be equally fun to play and even more so, but it cannot duplicate the particular stories that Magic has told, or at least not the fact that they were first told through Magic and forever touched by its nature - for better and for worse, that last part.  Regardless, long after I've flopped my last card, I will remember Urza and Mirrodin and the Boros Guild and the Lorwyn elves that kill ugly people; the makers of Magic have created real magic through their creative work, and the rest of the game far too often overshadows that.  All of which stands in a bit of contrast to the previous point, but still.)

So those are my reasons; now it's your turn.  What does Magic mean to you, and why?  Let's prove that we have more than a bunch of numbers for the marketing guys to think about.
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As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi