Op-Ed: Why CCGs are So Dangerous

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Take two things geeks love, collecting and gaming, and you have a recipe for fun. But add a price tag to them and you have a potential recipe for disaster. It is universally accepted that geek culture isn’t a cheap one. 

Most of it revolves around specific purchases that help people fall in to varying groups. You have Star Wars fans, Trekkies, Doctor Who fans, LotR fans, gamers, roleplayers, LARPers, miniature tabletop players and a horde of others who fall into at least one, but usually multiples, of these options. And how do they show it? Usually with t-shirts, wallets, bags, wristbands, or any other number of options. But there are certain geek hobbies like collectible card games that take the obsessions of the geek culture to dangerous levels.

Collectible card games (CCGs for short) are games where players build their own deck out of an ongoing and ever growing collection of cards composed of those from starter packs and booster packs. Usually the packs have a distribution of cards between mostly common, some uncommon and a single rare. The more packs you purchase and you’ll likely find even harder to find special cards. In Magic: The Gathering, these would be Mythic Rares.

Usually a box of 36 packs will only contain a certain number of these sought after cards. The better the card and more rare it is will lead to players spending more between either pack purchases or just buying a card directly.

Part of the issue comes from some of the better cards being increasingly rare. While it is possible to create a winning deck out of all common cards, there is usually one or two rare ones out of the set that can drastically improve a deck. Now while it might be cheaper at first to purchase one of these, there is a thrill to the hunt of opening packs to get them.

The other problem as geeks is we all get that sick serotonin high for completing things. For the same reason we need 1000 gamerscore or a platinum trophy in a game, we want to complete sets of anything we can collect. This also goes for cards. There is something scarily fulfilling about having those 9 card pages in a binder filled up in order with no blank spots.

Of course, this gets even more expensive as you’re not just looking for cards to play with but for the ones you won’t ever touch again outside of their plastic sleeve. With internet purchasing being as easy as it is, it doesn’t take long to drop an entire paycheck on the rares you were missing. It’s not like back in the day where you’d get into bidding wars over the Charizard but the price tag can rack up quickly.

And just as soon as you finally get all of the cards you want or need, a new set comes out. Just knowing you have gotten a rare card gives a little boost but add in foil cards and mythic rares and you get a added buzz that encourages you to get just one more pack.

It’s not to say that CCGs are bad. In fact, many have great communities of players who are very open to inviting new members. But there can easily be a trap someone can fall into very quickly without expecting. With that said, want to join us for some Friday Night Magic?

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