There are millions of registered Magic: The Gathering players worldwide. Now in its 20th year, the game—in which two players wage battle using some 16,000 trading cards that cast spells and creatures upon their opponent—is more popular than ever.
Some of these millions play just for fun; others compete for winnings that can reach to the tens of thousands per tournament. In New York City on any given Friday night, MTG devotees can find officially sanctioned Friday Night Magic tournaments at ten comic book and gaming stores in the five boroughs.
We spoke to amateur and competitive players at three stores: Get There Games of Staten Island, Montasy Comics in Midtown Manhattan and Kings Games in Midwood, Brooklyn. Even though one of us is a Magic player, we were still surprised at the vast array of backgrounds represented in the rooms. From longshoremen to attorneys (and of course, the requisite IT guys), we met an enormous variety of people with just one thing in common: they love this game.
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Holly Lynn Ellis is a native North Dakotan acting, writing and producing in Brooklyn. She's the producer of the narrative feature films Turtle Hill, Brooklyn and the Sundance-selected Prairie Love. She also works as video production manager at CafeMom. Friday Night Magic is in development for a feature-length documentary. Connect on Twitter @hollylynnellis
Andrew Tank Rivara's work as a director of photography can be seen in the upcoming feature Turtle Hill, Brooklyn. He is the proprietor of Tank Lights You Up, a lighting equipment rental service based in New Jersey. Tank started playing Magic: The Gathering when he was eleven years old. He still plays.
Will Kaufman is a NJ/NY based filmmaker who won a CINE Golden Eagle for his first documentary, Blowing Smoke. He has worked for Discovery, Viacom, Relativity Media, CBS, ESPN, Bacardi, and Google to name a few. Find him at WDK Films and on Twitter @wdkfilms.