As with all things, obsessions come in varying degrees; from the avid enthusiast to the ravenous diehard and beyond. My particular vice came with the invention of Magic: The Gathering. When I first heard of Magic I was at the impressionable age of 14 and previously, the only card games I was aware of were Crazy Eights and the like. Nothing as complicated or diverse as this. Little did I know, the game would consume most of my thoughts, free time and money for the next few years.
To give a brief overview of the game, the concept was that you and your opponent were rival wizards, fighting with magical spells and summoned creatures, trying to destroy one another for some unknown and yet unimportant reason. Players could choose between five different colours, each representing different styles of magic, or they could mix them to suit their taste; black magic representing death, white for life, red for fire, green for nature and blue for water. Granted there are further complexities that go far beyond this with regards to deck composition, casting cost, style, theme and so on, of which would take far too long to explain.
This game was exactly what I was looking for at the time, an interactive release from the mundane. Not having a job at the time I got my mom to buy my first pack for me, and I doubt cigarettes could have been as addictive. After opening my first pack I feverently poured over the rulebook, memorizing every rule and going through my cards again and again until every little detail was ingrained within my mind. I simply could not get enough of my cards. This process continued as my collection grew and new sets of cards came out every few months. I remember hearing of other people spending thousands of dollars on boxes of cards and wishing that I had enough money to do that. As it was, when summer came around I spent nearly every dollar I earned on new magic cards. At one point I bought a new starter pack, of which cost about $20 with the nickels, dimes and pennies I found lying about my room because I needed a quick fix.
Opening a new pack of cards was a high for me, lasting anywhere from a few hours to a week or more, depending on the relative power of the cards and how many of them I already had. Whenever I was out of money I'd often just sit and look through the binders of cards that I had, thinking over the possibilities and of course, memorizing the details. Eventually I had collected well over two thousand cards, to some of the more affluent gamers that number isn't all that high but you must remember I was young and had very little money. With the amount of time I spent with my cards, despite having a horrible memory I could tell you every detail about any of my cards by name. Each of my cards was carefully organized in a colour coated binder (matching of course) and each card in one of my twenty some odd decks was in a clear plastic sleeve within the specially purchased Magic: The Gathering deck box, obtained through a foreign language release. I didn't know what any of the cards said in those packs, but the box and the hope of getting a unique, rare English card was enough for me, and afterwards I couldn't bear to throw out the foreign cards. I had a few Magic posters and an oversized Shivian Dragon card which I had gotten from another special release of which provided (sadly enough) hours of enjoyment. Whenever anyone touched or wanted to see one of my cards I'd always feel a great sense of panic for my card, fearing that they would in some way damage it. Throughout my years of playing I can count the number of cards that I'd ever given away, 3. It was easily the hardest thing for me to do at the time, especially since one of the cards I didn't have a duplicate of but I wanted to show someone how much I cared for them.
The worst of this whole problem came when one day my mother threatened to throw out my cards for some reason I can't recollect. After the time and money spent loving and caring for these precious cards of mine I couldn't bear the thought of someone simply discarding them, and so I told her that if she were to throw them out I'd kill her, and at the time I was dead serious. Eventually the day came when I decided that I could live without the game and stopped buying cards. I can't really say what changed my mind; I just felt differently over time and felt less attached to my cards, just as initially I had felt incredibly attached to them. Today, I still enjoy the occasional Magic joke and can still recall most of my cards by name. I still have all of my cards in their binders, although I threw out the foreign language cards and the binders are in storage. As for what would happen now if someone threw my cards out, well, I'd probably be very upset with them, as if they were to throw out a family album and physical violence would probably ensue but probably nothing more that a few well placed bruises.