Refining one’s ability to play Magic: The Gathering demands introspection, seeking constructive feedback, and respecting the thoughts and choices of others. In other words: a growth mindset.
If a player views themselves as thoughtful and considers themself to be approaching the game with skill, they’re more likely to find additional options, be more thoughtful, seek support, and genuinely enjoy their success. This mindset is transferable to life in general, and laying this foundation is step one in our Magic and Mindfulness program.
The style of Magic we’re playing is called ‘drafting’. It requires players to choose individual cards from booster packs and build a deck on the fly. In the abstract, each player must make 45 decisions in support of a short-term goal (a deck that can win games of Magic) as well as a long-term goal (becoming a better player). This is a fun challenge in and of itself, but it also makes the players responsible for their choices and puts everyone on an even footing, except for skill level, which is a prime opportunity for learning. We’ll be doing a few drafts in each season, and strongly reflecting upon what worked and what didn’t from one draft to another. We will equip players with the tools they need to engage in high-level discourse with one another.
Each week, we will discuss topics such as how sportsmanship supports improvement in competitive games, how emotions effect choices (and how to manage them), how to use data to evaluate and change opinions, and how to read body language in and out of games. We’ll practice these skills during and after play sessions through dialog with other players, especially our opponents. This group will also focus on collaboration, not just competition: When we build decks we do so as a group, focusing on giving and receiving feedback and playing the game with a sort of scientific curiosity. The diverse range of personalities in the group supports a rich dialog.
Teaching something is one of the best ways to ensure understanding. Some of our players have a strong grip on the game but don’t have anyone to teach. Others are great at modeling mindfulness, but have only started to play Magic. Some players are still developing the skills that allows their intelligence, socializing, and Magic playing to flourish. It’s a great place for your young planeswalker to practice being a leader, experience being valued by older and younger players, and to be able to listen and observe when other players are successful. When things get murky in the rules, or if a player gets on tilt, the group’s facilitator, Akira Sakoda, is present to share his 20+ years of Magic experience, tune challenges to an individual level, and help players find perspective as they develop their skills in and out of the game.