Welcome back, everyone! I took a week off of writing about Magic finance for Thanksgiving, so I hope you enjoyed the throwback article that we posted, found here. Clicking on that article brought back some memories, and I realized it’s now been officially a year since I started writing for Brainstorm Brewery. I actually just went back and read my first article ever on the site, and it’s funny to see how some things have changed. I’ve learned a lot through my writing, and I’ve gotten to meet some people who I looked up to as role models.
Back in my first article, I introduced myself as a kid who won a $20,000 scholarship for Magic: The Gathering. It’s undoubtedly the achievement in my life that I most pride myself on, and one of the reasons I can focus my money toward Magic instead of drowning in student loan debt. Back when I first won that scholarship in the summer of 2012, I wanted to let the entire world know. It was a huge goal of mine to write an article for a website—any website—and help every high school- or college-aged Magic player learn that this was a thing. Teachers and guidance counselors will tell you that there’s a scholarship for anything, but usually it’s something along the lines of, “Here’s $200 for your parents being divorced, it helps our admissions statistics look better.” That’s what this week’s article is for. Now that I have a platform, I want to help spread the word about the opportunity that I had, and let everyone else know that they have a chance at it, too.
Who’s Helping Who?
The organization that started all of this is called Gamers Helping Gamers. Headed by some old-time MTG notables such as Tim McKenna, Bob Maher, Jr. ([card]Dark Confidant[/card]), Chris Pikula ([card]Meddling Mage[/card]), and Jon Finkel ([card]Shadowmage Infiltrator[/card]), GHG is a charity organization that looks to provide scholarships to Magic: The Gathering players.
If you’re a senior in high school or currently attending college, you’ll need to submit your FASFA (Free Application for Student Federal Aid) information, a high school transcript, and answers to a few essay questions (some related to Magic, some not). When I first saw that GHG was being put together during my senior year in high school, they weren’t ready to accept applications yet due to not having enough money. That changed after Finkel donated portions of his winnings from Pro Tour Dark Ascension and Pro Tour Avacyn Restored, and I ended up submitting my application in the nick of time—I think it was on the day before the deadline.
I’m here to suggest that you not do what I did. Instead, start working on your application right now. Entry just opened up this past Tuesday, and the last day for submissions is on March 31, 2015. Start thinking of ideas for the essay questions, and get your paperwork ready in advance. I personally enjoyed the look on my high school guidance counselor’s face when I asked for my transcript so that I could submit it for a trading card game scholarship.
Break Out the [card]Bloodletter Quill[/card]
Essay 1 asks for a few personal statements: What is your background in Magic, what is the role Magic has had in your life, why would you be a good applicant, and what are your personal academic/career goals? When I answered this, I started at the beginning and simply told the story of how I learned to play Magic: sitting at a cafeteria table in exchange for teaching a friend how to play Yu-Gi-Oh!. The game has been a huge influence in my life ever since learning it, from making friends, to strategic thinking, expanding my vocabulary, and a bit of knowledge about economics and finance.
Essay 2 should be a piece of cake. Everyone has that one card, or maybe that one game mechanic that they’re emotionally attached to. Maybe it was your first rare out of a booster pack, or maybe you just played with a Mirrodin Sunburst precon for five years before meeting other players who shared your interests. This is your chance to tell people who care what that aspect of Magic that you love is, and potentially get paid to do so. My story involves [card]Glissa, the Traitor[/card], and a perfectly healthy obsession of hoarding every existing copy of the card in the state of New York. I own a copy of the card that someone sunk their teeth into, put into their trade binder, then stared me straight in the eye saying, “You know you want it anyway.” He wasn’t wrong. I still own that card.
On the other hand, I wrote about how I absolutely abhor storm as a game mechanic. Looking back, I’m surprised that I wasn’t instantly rejected, considering Finkel was probably involved in passing down judgment on the essays. Anyway, I ended up discussing how storm is a very linear gameplay mechanic, and how it allows for very little interaction between the two players. Either player A enjoys his game of solitaire and wins, or player B resolves [card]Rule of Law[/card]. Do you hate how bestow was absolutely the worst thing to happen to Limited Magic in the history of the world? Do you think [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] ruined Standard for over a year? Let’s hear it. Even if you don’t or can’t submit an application, I’d love to read your love/hate relationship with cards and mechanics. Everyone’s got their own stories.
Apparently, there are new questions that have been added to the roster since the inaugural year that I was a part of. You have a choice to pick between one of these;
4a) What can be done to increase diversity in the Magic community? What factors, if any, do you see as inhibiting or encouraging diversity?
4b) It is your turn 3. Do you attack your 2/2 into your opponent’s 3/3? Please explain the factors that would influence your decision.
If you’re looking for some ideas for 4a, maybe discussing how enforcing stereotypes doesn’t help our community, or how the boys’ club mentality of the game needs to be removed. As amazing as this community can be when we all work together, sometimes that group cohesion can lead to the alienation of others who just want to feel included.
Apparently Worlds is This Week
On a more positive note, day one of the Magic World Championship just wrapped up. By the time this article goes up, the tournament will probably be finished, and someone else on this website will be writing about the financial implications of the tournament results, as well as cards you’ll want to look out for. On an unrelated note, I’d like to mention that I’m currently rooting for Patrick Chapin, Tom Martell, Sam Black, Paul Rietzl, William “Huey” Jensen, Reid Duke, and Owen Turtenwald. Sorry Ray Future Pro… nothing personal.
Gamers Helping Gamers has been a huge reason for my successes in life these past few years, and I wanted to do what I could at this point in my life to try and give a bit back. If this article convinces even one person to go for it and try to win this scholarship, I’ll consider it a success. One of my goals in this column has always been to help other Magic players play the game without having to go broke, and removing the dark cloud of college loans definitely falls under that category. Good luck to all of my readers who apply!