How far can a card game take you?

Growing up in Australia, many kids considered themselves Monopoly masters or Go Fish aficionados.

But could you have ever imagined your favourite gaming pastime taking you around the world?

For a handful of people, their love of card games has done just that.

Jim Wilks has been playing the fantasy card game Magic since he was 11 years old.

Like most kids, the Canberran started playing for fun, but as he matured so did his game.

As a result, over the past three years Mr Wilks has been flown to international competitions in America, The Netherlands and soon to Ireland.

Mr Wilks is one of a growing number of semi-professional gamers who are sponsored to fly to international tournaments held across the globe by gaming companies.

Mr Wilks got his first taste of international gaming in 2014, when he qualified to play in the Magic Pro League in Atlanta, in the United States.

Last November, he won his way into the Australian Magic team that competed against 70 other countries at the World Magic Cup in Rotterdam, in The Netherlands.

His team of four placed 6th and with it received $8,000 and a free plane flight to the Pro League in Dublin, taking place in February.

Mr Wilks admitted he never thought he would be able to see the world because of a card game, and said it had been a life-changing experience.

"I met a lot of great people over there [in Atlanta], and ever since then it's been my goal to just keep going to more," he said.

"Making friends around the world is huge. Experiencing all these different cultures and seeing all these different people and being connected by this game is … a really great opportunity."

But like any sport, Mr Wilks had to hone his skill to be able to match it with the best abroad.

"Currently, we have a group of friends that run testing sessions, so every week we will get together and we will sit down and practice, basically."

If he is able to win 11 out of his 16 games in Dublin next week he will secure a seat at the next Pro Tour stop in Nashville in May.

'I've travelled around the world to play toy soldiers'

But international adventures are not just reserved for card gamers — with most popular board and tabletop games now also hosting world cups or championships.

Andrew Haidon from Canberra has travelled to Seattle, in the US, for the last three years to play the steampunk fantasy tabletop games Warmachine and Hordes.

Each year he heads to the gaming convention, Lock and Load, where the world championship is hosted, called the Iron Gauntlet, along with and other competitions including the Iron Arena — where Mr Haidon competes.

For him heading to international conventions means meeting new people and also getting his hands on the latest model releases.

"Typically at Lock and Load … they pre-release models. There is just stuff you can get there that you can't normally get anywhere else," he said.

Mr Haidon said many people were still surprised a person could travel the world for a game.

"When I meet new people, I say 'I've travelled around the world to play toy soldiers', and they always say 'wow!'," he said.

Each year, Canberra plays host to the nation's biggest gathering of war gamers, Cancon.

Among the events, Mr Haidon runs the Warmachine and Hordes competition, which is used as a qualifying round for the Asia-Pacific region for the Iron Gauntlet.

This weekend about 100 people from across Australia and New Zealand will compete here for their place in the international tournament.

While Mr Haidon cannot compete, as he is an organiser, he has set his mind on heading to Belgium to play in the world team championships later this year.

photo How far can a card game take you? images

photo of How far can a card game take you?

More stories