Let me tell you a story.
In January 2015, over seven months ago, I dropped by a game store in Galway, Ireland while I was visiting. (Aptly named Dungeons and Donuts, featuring homemade donuts with such names as Xe-Nut-Gos, God of Revels and Circle of Protection: Jam)
Upon walking in, and much to my surprise, the shopkeep looked straight at me and said, “Gavin Verhey!? What the… what are you doing here!?”
Despite either of us never having met the other, as tends to happen both in Magic and in Ireland, we started easily chatting about the game. He asked the questions about what working on Magic was like, and I asked the questions about what playing in Ireland was like.
Our conversation winded around for a while.
“You know what I’ve always wanted to do, Gavin?”
“I’ve always dreamed of coming out for the Magic Party at PAX. That looks so cool! It’ll probably never happen – I’ve barely ever left Ireland in my life.“
I smiled. “Well, if you ever do find your way out to Seattle, let me know and you’re welcome to stay with me if it helps.”
We both laughed at the absurdity of that notion.
Eventually we went out for dinner, then followed it up by him showing me the city. It ended up by going back to his place and kindly letting me in while I waited for my bus, playing games until two in the morning.
Then we parted. And that was that.
Until over a month later.
I’m running between meetings at work. I check my phone. A message has shown up on Facebook. It’s from James. I click on it. It begins:
“Hey Gavin! I’m messaging you about the idea of going to PAX Prime later this year like we discussed (I’ve already saved €300 of my €1000 goal!!!) So this could actually be a thing that happens.”
My eyes open wide.
Not only has he made up his mind about coming out, but the wheels are already in motion. He’s saving toward it.
It’s going to happen.
James is coming here.
More appropriately: James from his tiny home in Galway, who has never been to the United States, and has almost never left his home country, is coming to Seattle, Washington, for PAX.
Or, perhaps, most appropriately: James is flying across the world for Magic.
The thing that I work on.
And not because he’s a pro player and won a plane ticket or anything. It’s just because he loves the game with an intense passion that he wants to be in Seattle, at the PAX epicenter, as it all unfolds.
Right now, I am sitting on my couch at home after coming back from the airport. James is sitting not twenty feet away from me. We are two people from totally different worlds brought together at the same crosssection of time because we play the same game and I once made an offhand comment about a dream he had.
And yet, here we are.
I’m telling you this for two reasons.
First, if I have accidentally just invited the most accomplished serial killer in all of Ireland into my home, I want you all to know who to track down if I go missing.
But second, and only slightly less importantly, this situation is ridiculous. I talked to someone at a tiny game shop in Ireland that serves donuts with comical names who we quickly connected with over a card game, who I then offered to stay at my place if he ever came to PAX and now he is sitting here on my couch, completely ecstatic about being in the states and about what Magic is doing at PAX. He is going from a town of 75,000 people to a convention of 75,000 people.
And he is in one of the most happy, excited states I have ever seen another human being in.
I get asked a lot if I feel like my job makes a difference in the world. If I am contributing positive net worth to the world by creating a card game. And it’s true: I’m not out curing Malaria. I’m not sweating in the emergency room, wiping my brow as I go in for another life-or-death heart transplant.
But when it comes to exporting happiness, that refined good which may just very well be the most valuable of all, I feel like we do a pretty good job.
And you know what? I’ll take that any day.