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Magic: The Gathering: Addiction & Burnout

Hello everyone, it’s BoBoFraggles once again, and I’m here to talk with you about a very sensitive Magic: The Gathering topic, Magic addiction and burnout. I’m sure this phrase is coined somewhere else, so if I use terms someone else has, I apologize in advance. This absolutely needs to be talked about, so let's get to it.

So let's be brutally honest with ourselves, Magic: The Gathering is gambling. There, I said it. Even the most basic of events such as FNM, is a gamble. You pay money, you then play your hands and if you win, you receive items that can be redeemed at monetary value. That is gambling and Magic has a ton of it.

This is a problem especially faced by players who utilize Magic: The Gathering Online (MTGO) as their primary way to interact with the game. In the constructed lobby there are constant reminders of the high level events to play. These include leagues, preliminaries, challenges, and even format showcase events. If a player wants it, there can be literal zero downtime between one important match to the other. This can be dangerous and we need to be aware of that when playing MTGO.

What if I ask you about your relationship with Magic: The Gathering, how does that make you feel? Be honest. Do you feel a sense of dread? What if you have this feeling of stress and feelings of, if I don’t win, this game isn’t worth it, am I not worth it? If you do, you are not alone and you are experiencing one of the many signs of Magic addiction and tournament fatigue. We have all experienced it at times, I’m sure of that.

Magic addiction and burnout can express itself in different ways, but ask yourself the following questions:

  • If I stopped playing this game for a full week, would I feel anxious or feeling like I’m missing out on something?

  • Do I feel the need to play this game every day?

  • Do I feel the need to interact with this game every day (content, checking prices, buying cards)?

  • How do I feel about losing in a game of Magic, do I get upset?

I have said yes to many of these before and I’m sure that you have too. It's times like these that we need to tell ourselves, I have a Magic addiction. Just say it out loud, saying it makes us hear it, and we need to hear it. In the coming paragraphs, I want you to examine why you play this game and the steps you could take to have a healthy relationship with it once again.

First and foremost, put the game down for 24 - 48 hours. That means no playing, no reading articles, no watching content. Detoxing yourself from the game and taking a breather can do great in the ways of evaluating your relationship with it. Avoid interacting with the game in any form and take the 24 - 48 hours to decompress from the stresses you are feeling.

After your break, before you play again, take the time to define what the game is to you at this moment and what you honestly want it to be. Do you want to be a Magic Online Champion? Do you just want to play in free events offered by the MOS and use the time to socialize with others? There are infinite numbers of ways to interact with the community, so having this clearly defined before you re-engage is important. It's easy to come back after a break and just pick up where you left off, playing in event after event, unsure exactly why you are playing and falling back into the same patterns. Some easy examples of defining what your goals are is: I want to qualify for the next Legacy Showcase, or I want to win a Magic Online Society weekly event. Could even be as simple as I want to play casual commander with people who want to relax. Once you have your goal, you can then begin to define the steps needed to obtain it. Once you have your goals, work backwards to determine how that goal can be achieved. Take a look at your current life and define how much time do you honestly have to play this game in the capacity to meet that goal. Many of us have work, families, educational aspirations and / or other commitments that can truly impact the realistic chances of meeting this goal. So make sure that your goal and time commitment are aligned. I believe that there are unhealthy habits associated with Magic: The Gathering. I also believe that the positive aspects of the game outweigh the unhealthy habits. Like anything in life, we need to continually assess the balance in our life, not letting any unhealthy area take control. Lets continue to play this game in a way that fits our lives, not fit our lives to continue playing this game. As always, Viva La MTGO!!!

-Danny AKA BoBoFraggles


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