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You're a Loser
By Eric Turgeon
If you play Magic, you’re a loser. It’s that simple. But you’re not a loser for immersing yourself in a fantasy card game. You’re not a loser if you spend more money on pieces of cardboard than you do on food. You’re not even a loser if your only friends are Magic players.

No, you’re a loser because that’s what happens when you play the game. You lose. It doesn’t matter if you just started playing yesterday or if you’re the top pro in the world, you’re still going to lose. And that makes you a loser.

Now maybe you refuse to accept the fact that you’re a loser. There are a couple options you can take in order to stop being a loser. The easiest way is to stop playing Magic. Or you could only play “fishbowl” games to see how quickly you can deal 20 damage or mill 60 cards. If you’re especially daring, you could try grabbing a net deck and play it against people just learning the game. That, of course, carries the risk of getting mana screwed, but at least you’re still beating people 99% of the time.

As for the rest of you, you’re just losers. But why are you losers? Well, the fact of the matter is someone has to lose. It’s written in the rules of the game. There can be no more than one winner. Everyone else is a loser. No matter how good each player is, no matter how perfectly they play their games, no matter how many topdecked game-saving draws they each pull, in the end, one of them has got to lose.

People have a lot of trouble admitting that they're losers. They'd prefer to look back at the game and say they were mana screwed or mana flooded. Or maybe they only lost because their opponent topdecked his way to victory. Or maybe they got teamed up against in a multiplayer game. Or maybe they were playing a team game and their partner or partners were incompetent. It's always someone else's fault.

Now you might analyze a game of Magic and rightfully place the outcome of the game on any number of these events. Maybe mana troubles did prevent you from winning. Maybe you were the victim of bad luck or your opponent's good luck. Maybe the game wasn't played fairly or the teams weren't balanced. But all these factors are part of the game. When you shuffle a deck and draw seven cards, you are entering an unsigned agreement stating that you are aware of the fact that luck is strongly involved in the game of Magic. Neither your opponent nor Wizards of the Coast can be held liable for your failure to win. That responsibility lies squarely on your shoulders.

And if you don't like it, then by all means, don't play. It's a basic freedom. If you don't like bowling, then don't go bowling. If you don't like coconuts, then don't eat coconuts. If you don't like being in prison, then don't start killing people. And if you don't like losing, then don't put yourself in a position where it might happen. Because that's the only way to guarantee that you don't lose.

Let me state a simple fact that a lot of people seem to be unaware of:
Magic is not important.
Magic is a game. Its purpose is to entertain. If you ever find yourself playing Magic and you aren't having fun, then stop playing. If the interaction taking place in the game is not enough to please you, then step away and think about why you started playing in the first place. If you can't remember, then it's probably time to stop playing altogether.

I think a lot of the problems with losing today stem from the rise of artificial intelligence in video games. Video games provide a new means of competition in which the only loser becomes the computer. When you play well, you can be cocky and arrogant in victory. The computer won't care. And when you play poorly, you can be angry and bitter, throw the controller or smack the monitor, and use all the curse words that your heart desires. The computer won't care. The computer is the biggest loser ever. And it still doesn't care.

When people grow up playing the computer, they get stuck in a cycle of victory. They get accustomed to not being the loser. "Let the computer be the loser," they think. "It can handle it." Well, something goes wrong when those same people leave the comfortable confines of their video games and enter a world where some real person must lose at least half of all the games played. And it's not an easy transition.

The transition can be a bit easier if you’re playing someone in real life. In this case, when you lose a game and perform your usual routine of standing up, screaming and throwing things across the room, your opponent is right there to smack you across the back of the head and tell you to quit your whining before he kicks your butt. It’s a little bit harder when the interface doesn’t change though, such as on Magic Online. You’re still sitting in front of a computer, right? So who cares what your opponent thinks? That’s fine. It’s okay to have a temper tantrum. In fact, it’s even okay to vent all your frustration at your opponent, who is sitting hundreds of miles away. But if you have enough sense to type a hateful message to him, at least use this handy translator:
I hate you = Good Game.
You suck = Good Game.
Lucky SOB = Good Game.
Go oink yourself = Good Game.
That was the worst game ever! = Good Game.

Trust me. Your opponent will know what you mean.

After a while, you will begin to grow accustomed to losing regularly. You might even learn the following lesson:
There's nothing wrong with losing.
Most people don't seem to understand that there's nothing wrong with being a loser. Losing only sucks because we think it sucks. We think our decks are a reflection of ourselves, but they’re not. We think our losses are a reflection of our lives, but they’re not. Losing has nothing to do with the people we are. In fact, the way in which we lose has a much greater bearing on who we are than the fact that we lost at all.

Whenever I sit down to play a game of Magic, I play a little game within the game. Whenever I am about to be defeated by my opponent, I will always try to be the first to offer a handshake or tell them it was a good game. It doesn’t matter how arrogant or rude they were during the game. It doesn’t matter how much better their deck was than mine. If I don’t acknowledge the fact that every game of Magic is a good one, despite what I really think at the time, then and only then am I truly a loser. I'll admit that I've lost this game many times before, but at least I'm playing.

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I've contradicted myself. And I have. I'm telling everyone who doesn't like losing to stop playing Magic. But nobody likes losing. So I'm telling everyone to stop playing. Including myself. Actually, the point I'm trying to make is that Magic is a fun game. And losing is an integral part of this game. Therefore, you must accept losing as something that happens in the game. You must accept the fact that people will play you with decks that have no right to be called casual. You must accept the fact that problems happen and not everyone thinks the same way that you do. And when you lose, you must be gracious. Your bitterness will not help you become a better player, nor will it make losing any easier to bear.

So put out your hand, congratulate your opponent and move on with your life. And if you can't, then don't come crying to me about it. Because that just tells me that you’re a bigger loser than me.

Read More Articles by Eric Turgeon!

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