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Student organization brings Magic to campus

Submitted by Liz Fox on September 4, 2013 – 2:14 pmNo Comment

From its humble beginnings into the present, the world of geekery has been somewhat divided. These splits are not only dictated by fandom (say, Star Wars versus Star Trek) but also by practice. Some prefer to go it alone and delve into the escapist route, but others thrive on the prospects of interaction and fellowship. The latter, according to its members, is what drives the UALR Magic Club, a new student organization devoted to the study and competition of “Magic: The Gathering.”

“Magic: The Gathering” is a popular trading card game that represents battles between “planeswalkers” (wizards) and their opponents. It is known as a pioneer of the genre, drawing heavily upon influences from “Dungeons & Dragons,” Tolkien mythology and fantasy novels. Tournaments range from casual to professional, with champions playing for thousands of dollars in cash or primo prizes, rendering the game extremely competitive for its talented players.

The club’s origins began with Anime-PWN, a student organization that thrives on anime, manga and other parts of geek culture. Many of the Magic Club’s members started off in Anime-PWN, participating in tournaments on and off campus. As a freshman, Christian Potts was approached by members of Anime-PWN to start a formal Magic Club. After consulting with friend and future vice president David Ray, the club formally became a registered student organization in February 2013.

Since its inception, the club has grown from 28 to more than 50 members. Fliers are plastered onto the walls of the Engineering & Information Technology building, where the club occasionally meets on the second floor. The room is filled with members who bring their own decks and dish them out into play, colorful cards covering the otherwise bland tables. There’s a mood of excitement in the air, and this is what most players and fans of the game thrive upon.

“Going out and finding these groups that played amongst each other was a big deal because we’d go to four or five places and immediately we’d have almost twenty people,” Potts said. “We’d put up fliers everywhere and I’d walk up hallways and see people playing sometimes, or people would approach us when we were playing here.”

The club is planning for a number of events during the fall semester, including the Sept. 21 release of the coveted THEROS deck. Potts also advises members to participate in Magic: The Gathering Appreciation Day, a day in late September when devout gamers can receive a free pack of cards from retailers. The organization’s store of choice is Game Goblins,  located in West Little Rock, which often hosts local tournaments and supplies products for a number of other, similar games.

Instead of retaining niche membership, Potts said he and his fellow officers aim for a degree of outreach. Last year the club hosted an off-campus event in conjunction with Anime-PWN, which was a major success for both organizations. Potts said he hopes to continue this type of collaboration and also forge a new alliance with the Pokemon Club, another club that formed only a few months ago.

“I think it would bring a lot of people out of their rooms, so to speak,” Potts said. “We’re going to meet with them once a month just to see what they’re doing and where we’re going.”

But the big picture, Potts says, is reaching out to the campus community. Fellowship and competition are essential components of “Magic: The Gathering,” and those are qualities the club will continue to draw upon.

“As far as the community goes, we wouldn’t have been able to do this if it wasn’t for that aspect,” he said. “The club blew up in a really great way, and we hope to keep bringing in freshman and teaching people.”

More information about the Magic Club can be found by emailing Christian Potts at Meeting locations and times have yet to be determined.

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