I've been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! competitively for two years, but I've played it off and on for almost my whole life. I've put countless time and money into playing this game. For most duelists, simply playing with the physical cards is not enough. There are hundreds of websites with thousands of pages of content detailing the strategic and psychological elements of Yu-Gi-Oh.

Obviously there's a reason people spend all of their precious time and hard-earned money, right? Of course! The problem? Well, a lot of explanations for playing Yu-Gi-Oh! either aren't addressed or properly communicated. As someone who's had to deal with a variety of people discovering my hobby – family, friends, complete strangers – I can tell you that there are several questions that come up repeatedly. Today I'd like to take a look at them and accomplish two things: give duelists like you options for answering those questions if you don't know how, and also help non-players or ex-players understand the answers.

It's a big challenge but I feel like it could benefit a lot of people, so let's get right into some common questions!

"X dollars for a Yu-Gi-Oh! card? But it's just a piece of shiny cardboard!"

and

"You're wasting your money on a children's card game!"

I've opted to kick things off with this question because many people are familiar with it. Not only non-players and ex-players ask this one, a lot of new players do too. To someone that's just starting out or doesn't actually know anything about Yu-Gi-Oh! I can definitely see that this is a big point of confusion and curiosity. After all, almost all people understand the value of money, while only a very select group put value on these cards.

I used to not really have a good explanation for this question, but eventually I found a way to put it in terms that people from all walks of life can understand. For starters, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a hobby. Like many hobbies, it costs money. You can even throw recreational sports into the mix. Think about a hobby you partake in - almost any one works. Is it completely, 100% free? I'm going to take a guess and say no. Outside of competitive air guitar tournaments I highly doubt that your hobby of choice costs nothing. Whether you're buying a swimsuit for races, a rod for fishing, paper for scrapbooking, or a controller for your game system of choice one aspect remains the same: it costs money.

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It's actually an interesting question, because on a cost-per-hour basis Yu-Gi-Oh! costs far less than a lot of other hobbies, and it has the added bonus of actually making you money in some cases. I think back to swim team in high school and how every single swimmer had to spend at least $50 on suits and goggles. Sure, I suppose one or two people made their money back with a scholarship to college, but most of us just threw away 50 bucks. Not only that, but we spent two hours every single day in the pool. You don't even have to be good at Yu-Gi-Oh! to make your money back.

Seriously, you really don't. I've seen plenty of inexperienced players make hundreds of dollars just because they took some time to research card prices. Once again, yes, they're spending the time to look up those prices, but you'd be hard pressed to find a hobby that didn't call for some extra time for research and general awareness. Exploring your hobby is part of the fun.

In terms of actually answering the original question, think of it this way: if you take away the card game aspect of Yu-Gi-Oh, is it acceptable to spend cash on it? Naturally, yes it is. If you put it in retrospect and change the question to "[X dollars] for [piece of equipment]? But it's just [generic oversimplification of piece of equipment]!" then it makes a lot more sense. Nobody bats an eye when someone drops hundreds of dollars on football jerseys when the person buying them doesn't even play football, so why should you be flustered about paying for stuff you're actually playing with?

"It's just a game, get over it already."

I see this one a lot after someone posts a Facebook status or gets angry in real life about losing. This is a fairly easy one to answer: yes, it is a game! Yu-Gi-Oh is in fact a card game, keyword: game. We get invested in it because we put our time and money into it, and we put our time and money into it because we're invested in it.

It's basically the same thing as sports fans getting agitated when "their" team loses, saying stuff like "we" lost. Are they actually part of the team? Of course not, but they're invested in the team so they throw the "we" in there and identify with the players. Some random team losing a glorified game of fetch isn't going to actually affect their life – barring any bets they may have laid on the outcome.

Basically, there isn't a single Yu-Gi-Oh! player trying to argue that it isn't a game.

"How will you ever get a girlfriend/boyfriend if you play a children's card game?"

Oh boy. This is one of my favorites because I've actually been asked this myself, during times where I've had a girlfriend. I can totally sympathize with the people asking this, though, because the general outlook on card game players in general isn't very good. If I asked you to picture a card game player – any card game, really – you'd probably picture a fat, greasy, socially awkward individual. And there are definitely people like that playing Yu-Gi-Oh, but here's the scary thing: there are people like that outside of card games, too!

I sometimes wonder about the people asking this question more than the ones answering. The person asking is someone who apparently picks potential mates based on single qualities. Like, do they realize that you don't actually have to share every single hobby with the person you're dating?

Anyway, after both living this question and watching how others deal with it I can give you some of the best advice ever if you yourself are starting to question whether you'll be dating-impaired because you play Yu-Gi-Oh. Essentially you only have to do one major thing, and it's really easy: be confident and take pride in your hobby. See how easy that is? Even better still, it totally works! Girls – yes, even desirable ones – are fine dating someone that plays a card game. You know what's not fine? Someone playing a card game but that's too afraid to own up to it.

Constantly belittling yourself for playing a game isn't going to help your case to someone that doesn't play it.

People love confidence, and while the phrase "all you need is confidence to get a date" is a bit cliché it has its applications in this scenario. Sure, there might be some people that just don't want to be with someone that plays card games. You know what? I bet you have deal breakers, too. Unless you're going to go along and say that there's literally nothing a person can do to stop you from dating them, then try to not complain about that. Simply put, as long as you're always trying to grow as a person there's a good chance you're going to find someone that will like you for you; someone that's okay with you playing cards a hobby.

"Do people still play [insert card name here]?"

This is one asked specifically from those men and women that used to play – probably in middle school or early high school – but haven't touched a card in years. You know the ones. They've got an unorganized box of cards covered with dust in their closest. Heck, they might've tried to pick the game up a few times over the years. The constant factor here is that they absolutely don't play anymore.

If you're that person, that's completely okay! You played once and dropped it for whatever reason and that's fine. If you're thinking about asking this question I can pretty much give you the answer that 99% of the people you ask are going to want to say:

"No."

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It's not anything against the asker, either. The game's just constantly evolving. If you haven't played in over five years then I've got some news for you: Yu-Gi-Oh! is approximately ten zillion times faster and more complicated than when you were playing. There's this thing called power creep: for a card game to sell product and grow, every set has to be a little bit better. After all, who's going to buy the next pack of cards if they're worse than cards you already own? If you played years back then you probably remember duels taking almost an hour to complete, with very little complexity. For the really old duelists that played back when the game started the power creep can be pretty shocking.

At the end of the day the cards you played with as a kid usually fall under two categories: so good they're not allowed anymore, or so bad nobody has touched them in years. I can assure you that each time you ask this question the duelist will have to try harder and harder to restrain themselves from screaming and sprinting out of the room.

Then Again…
…This is all technically relative. There are going to be exceptions to all of these answers, since they're fit to my personal views and experiences. I tried to be as general and logical as possible but I can't possibly cover all my bases. At the end of the day I think the most important thing is that the person playing Yu-Gi-Oh! is most likely doing it because they enjoy doing so.

It's a hobby. Yes, it costs time and money and yes, it's not the most popular thing in the world in certain circles, but really, who cares? It's hard making fun of someone for doing something they enjoy because it's all personal preference. The only reason it's meta for card game players to be viewed as nerdy and easily made fun of is because of what ever else is currently popular. A lot of hobbies have similarities, it's just that one of them is currently more socially acceptable than another.

Hopefully this cleared up some confusion for non-players and gave some duelists answers to what can often be stymieing and difficut questions. I've heard them all way too many times in a variety of situations, and have spent the time to properly analyze them so I could better my own answers. If you have any questions or comments let me know!

-Doug Zeeff
Article Aftermath #37