Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic: the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.
In Magic: the Gathering, knowing your goal is simple; you’re playing to win. How you win is far more complicated: you could win by taking your opponent down to 0, by milling their library, or through some card’s effect, such as Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God’s ultimate ability that causes opponents to lose if they don’t control a legendary creature or planeswalker.
Life is a lot like that too: there are many roads to success. The important thing is defining what success is. Being a millionaire might tick the success box for many people, but isn’t your contribution to society worth more than the contents of your wallet? It’s an important question to ask, and that’s why it’s Magic Life Lesson #9: Your Definition of Success.
Magic Life Lesson #9: Your Definition of Success
Speaking for myself, I’ve always struggled fitting my professional goals into my world view. I want to be a successful writer and game designer, and I know that stories (and, by extension, games) are an important medium for tackling and teaching important concepts — such as how Spec Ops: The Line is a harsh introspection on war and games about war — but I don’t always feel that I’m making peoples lives better. When I was a teacher, this was a no-brainer. My students learned and grew before my eyes, and I felt that my contribution mattered.
What does give me hope are all the writers who have made an impact on my life. Tolkien’s love for language flows from every page of his works, while C.S. Lewis brings a profound wisdom to his works that any man should seek to emulate. George R.R. Martin understands history and the humans that wrote it in a way that breathes new life into all history.
Games have resonated with me, too. Emperor and Emperor worship in Warhammer 40,000 has, as a bad parody, always stood in stark contrast to what the church and Christianity are to me, and has motivated me to question and dig into what I read in the Bible, so that I gain a true understanding of the writer’s message. And, you already know how Magic: the Gathering has proven to be a great game through which one can learn about life.
Ultimately, the struggle to balance my world view and goals has led me to change the ways I do things. Even if I have yet to nail down the how, I know that I want to make good games and tell stories that get people thinking about real issues, even if those issues are embedded in fantasy stories about elves and dwarves.
The struggle to define success in your own words is infinitely valuable, and certainly not easy, but it’s integral to your personal journey and to the question we all ask:
Why am I here?
The Rising Phoenix Games dude.
Rodney is a writer and editor of tabletop RPGs and a painter of Orks. He is worryingly fond of mill decks in Magic: the Gathering and a self-confessed Japanophile.