Nerd Alert! This culturally diverse, inmate-led, self-help group is dedicated to teaching communication skills and reinforcing problem solving, literacy, and literary comprehension, using the Magic: the Gathering card game and a fun, positive, and respectful environment as its mediums.
In 1993, I was 13 years old and completely obsessed with Magic: The Gathering. Near the Mission Valley area of San Diego, there was a small hobby shop called “Game Empire” and I was a steady customer. Magic was still relatively new at the time but droves of fans would gather to play, host small tournaments, and trade with each other. I did not play much back then, preferring to collect and trade cards, but the experience was sublime and intoxicating for my young mind. I felt comfortable and at home within the group of “regulars”, many of whom had nicknames like, “Stench”, “Artifact Face”, and “Mana Burner”. It was all in fun and I loved every second.
I have many good memories of that time in my life. In 2013, after reminiscing with a friend, we decided we would try to get back into the game. Thanks to our generous administration allowing us to order and receive Magic cards and materials, we have been able to invest and cultivate an interest here on “A” Yard. “The Gathering”, an inmate-led self-help group, was created in 2016. Our first priority is establishing and maintaining a stable, diverse community of like-minded men who enjoy playing Magic: The Gathering. By using the structure and creative context of the game, we seek to strengthen our members’ critical thinking and decision-making skills. Plus, it’s fun!
Over 50 dudes are playing Magic: the Gathering on a daily basis. Occasionally we host our own tournaments, with prizes ranging from Fat Pack Boxes and Deck Boxes to Planeswalkers, card giveaways and the almighty Riot Piker. (Inside joke) Men from diverse backgrounds come together and enjoy this wonderful game, and I am proud to be a part of this group.
With the release of the new set, Aether Revolt, I will be buying a booster box, because you never know what you might get...and that’s the best part. Happy Gaming from us nerds!
Daniel Whitlow, “The Gathering” Facilitator