Last night I went out to a board game night to play Agricola. Ziggyny was there, as were some other folks who are top notch gamers but whom I had not played with before. We got to talking about Magic (back in the old days, when things made sense and children obeyed their elders) and I ended up bringing that topic home and chatting with Wendy about it today. I went on a bit of a rant about how Magic is changing and what exactly they are doing differently that is making it so successful today and despite the fact that Wendy really isn't much of a Magic player she was very much into my blathering. More than that, she wanted to know what it would take for me to play Magic again both in terms of time and cash. The answer is a couple grand and a few thousand hours most likely, which is a fair bit but certainly not insurmountable.
The trick is that Magic one of those obsessions that I must pursue either completely or not at all. Like World of Warcraft I can't just dabble - my interest rapidly trends towards zero if I can't push myself to extremes. The only way I can be involved in such games is if I am playing at a very high level, both competing against others who are excellent and writing as part of the community. If I can't feel like I am working at my limit, being the best possible, and educating others to be the same, I simply don't care. It is possible for me to have an interest I pursue in a sedate fashion but it sure isn't the norm and isn't especially fulfilling.
It isn't as though Wendy really wants me to start spending weekends away at Magic tournaments and throwing tons of money into rebuilding my collection. She does seem to really like that flash of passion, that spark of zealotry, that sign of an obsession long lain dormant. I think that is true of nearly everyone. While people often describe their ideal partner as well rounded and being good at many things I believe the more attractive feature is a single minded pursuit of greatness. There is something absolutely absorbing about watching someone who is a master of a particular thing and loves it deeply perform or even discuss the thing they do best. Even if one knows nothing about the subject at hand that is hardly an impediment to enjoying someone else in the throes of flow.
Right now I am obsessed with Heroes By Trade, the roleplaying game I am making. It is going well with much being written and two playtest groups going but it has the singular disadvantage of not having a community like the others games I have fallen into. I don't have a group of experts I can chat with, people who are just as deeply involved as I am to urge me to new heights of mastery and creativity. I am used to having a forum of experts at my disposal, whether it be on thedojo, civfanatics, or elitistjerks, where many folks with the same interest and expertise hang out day in and day out to bounce ideas off of each other. I have a few people of course but there is a critical mass of folks that creates a constant community presence online that I don't think I can replicate until my game is much more widely spread. It is a vexing challenge, for I do want to pursue this passion all the way to its inevitable conclusion.
Which is, of course, me being the author of an international roleplaying empire that has completely supplanted all others as the gold standard in fantasy roleplaying games. Inevitable I tell you!