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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Um...Magic: the Gathering?  (Read 2040 times)
Le Joueur
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« on: November 14, 2002, 10:46:03 PM »

Simple request (for a difficult answer):

Can someone explain to me why Magic: the Gathering isn't a product like Ron's discussing over in Mainstream: the Revision.  It is arguably a role-playing game, yet it brought an incredibly large slice of the mainstream to the hobby.  Now, I'm not making an argument that card games are the way to go, but it certainly gets outside the box, don't it?

(And let's direct this discussion towards 'mainstream attractions' and not Magic bashing, please.)

Fang Langford

p. s. This dawned on me as I was considering my response to Profiling in Reverse
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Mark Withers
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2002, 02:14:45 AM »

(And let's direct this discussion towards 'mainstream attractions' and not Magic bashing, please.)

In my opinion, the rules of Magic do not encourage or facilitate roleplaying in any way. They exist to create interesting strategies and to settle disputes in tournament play. Magic was always about the rules and the strategy. It's not a lost opportunity for roleplaying, it's a totally different beast.

However, there are some card games that do have a lot more to offer. Take Pokemon, for example. Kids (and adults) see these monsters on thier screens, and grow to love the funny, well-made cartoon. With the card game, those same kids now get to interact with those characters, and make up new battles, new stories. Once more step and those kids are roleplaying.

Non-collectable card games I feel also have great potential for encouraging roleplay, take Bedlam, for example...

Mark.
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2002, 03:57:06 AM »

Compare and contrast D&D 3rd edition with Magic: the Gathering. They're not all that different. I mean, heck...Magic starts right off with a specific Role: a Wizard (pick a color or colors) who draws upon the power of the earth (Swamps, Forests, Islands, Mountains, Plains) casts spells in an attempt to destroy rival Wizards.

There's your role, there's your game.

In fact...here's my M:tG character sheet:

Insania of the Decaying Mind
Black/Green Mage
20 Life

The fact that there is no abject characterization means little.
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Le Joueur
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2002, 06:03:46 AM »

Hey guys,

That's all well and good, but not the discussion I'm looking for.  When I say arguably, that's what I mean; we can argue about whether Magic: the Gathering is or is not a role-playing game, but the fact is some people think it is.  That's good enough for me.

Regardless, it was sold by a role-playing game publisher, originally to a role-playing game market, but it 'hit' hugely outside of that market.  This discussion is about whether that (or things like it, which 'aren't role-playing games' in everyone's minds) counts as an example of Ron's 'Dungeons & Dragons is not the mainstream, outside of Dungeons & Dragons is.'

Fang Langford
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2002, 07:17:14 AM »

Hi Fang,

The problem with the Magic analogy - and in many ways it is spot on - is that Magic was a kid fad. Sure, it boomed ... but it's a kiddie toy at best, now. No wonder Hasbro wanted it.

A minor point: I consider Magic a pocket wargame, not a role-playing game. I also think that's why it was so successful within the gaming hobby; a whole generation of people got to see a decent wargame for the first time, and for most of the frustrated Gamist-oriented gamers (again, who'd never seen anything that admitted that winning was the point), it was like finding their first centerfold. But this quibble is not to your point.

More importantly, in my mainstream/alternative discussion, I'm not too interested in booms and fads. The ideal of the middle class swarming into game stores, hands waving over their heads in their frenzy to buy the Big New Thing keeps many retailers and publishers warm at night, but not me. I'm more interested in stuff like (to go to comics) Strangers in Paradise. No, it didn't "save the industry," nor did it "sweep the nation." But it, and other comics in similar categories of marketing and content, did prove to be a viable hub of comics commerce for the most successful stores, totally contrary to the insider-hobbyist perception that it was some fringe soap-opera add-on.

This is why D&D in the late 1970s and Vampire in the early 1990s don't qualify for my mainstream-tag either - they tapped into a teen fad (especially the latter), and when the fad diminished, the hobby title went with it. The RPG publishing world latched onto this rather bush-league taste of "mainstream success" to the extent of holding it up as the great ideal of RPG publishing for all time. (One symptom of this semi-neurotic fixation is the overriding urge to get into chain bookstores, which I regard with horror.)

Best,
Ron
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2002, 07:40:16 AM »

Hey Ron,

Quote from: Ron Edwards
The problem with the Magic analogy - and in many ways it is spot on - is that Magic was a kid fad. Sure, it boomed...

More importantly, in my mainstream/alternative discussion, I'm not too interested in booms and fads. The ideal of the middle class swarming into game stores, hands waving over their heads in their frenzy to buy the Big New Thing keeps many retailers and publishers warm at night, but not me. I'm more interested in stuff like (to go to comics) Strangers in Paradise. No, it didn't "save the industry," nor did it "sweep the nation." But it, and other comics in similar categories of marketing and content, did prove to be a viable hub of comics commerce for the most successful stores, totally contrary to the insider-hobbyist perception that it was some fringe soap-opera add-on.

Good point.  A fad is a fad and as much as retailers and publishers wish it would establish a 'whole new market,' it doesn't (with notable exceptions like Goosebumps).

However, does the presence of a fad which reached so far outside the expected 'gamer audience' suggest that there's 'teeth' to your 'rename the mainstream' idea?  Does it mean that the game analogous to Strangers in Paradise could find an audience?  I'm not looking to 'save the industry' either, more 'save the publisher' of the Strangers in Paradise (-analogy) game; can anyone present logic that suggests that we can't or shouldn't grow in this direction?

Furthermore, what is the possibility that we need to grow well beyond the borders of the 'fantasy heartbreakers' and present something more than another dice & rules variant?

Or more in the terms of the challenge of this thread, who can explain why we can't?

Fang Langford
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2002, 01:12:16 PM »

Quote from: Le Joueur
Furthermore, what is the possibility that we need to grow well beyond the borders of the 'fantasy heartbreakers' and present something more than another dice & rules variant?

Or more in the terms of the challenge of this thread, who can explain why we can't?


Personally, I think this is definitely the way that roleplaying must go, and I'm still idealistic enough to believe that it's possible.  The roleplaying = social contract model (as opposed to the old roleplaying = dice + rules model) gives us a clear way of doing this.  Sure, there have been small steps in this direction: the rise of LARPs, the development of the indie community, internet-based gaming, the increasing number of Fortune-less games, etc.

However, if roleplaying is going to gain "legitimacy" (as an artistic medium) in the way that comics have in the last decade, I think it's critical that more be done in this reguard.  Roleplaying is so much more than the standard "GM + players + dice + rules" stuff that's existed from the very beginning.  Once we really move past this limitation, I think we really have much better options for creating "mainstream" products for an audience that wouldn't enjoy the kind of games that have dominated the industry (and public perceptions) until now.

Later.
Jonathan
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2002, 08:08:06 AM »

Hiya,

Jonathan: yeah. Ultra-yeah. Although "legitimacy" per se is not included in my goals; I'm about role-playing game design, commerce, and internal social context all improving, and if that leads to "legitimacy," well, whatever.

Fang: yeah, and ultra-yeah to you, too - I think your observations do put teeth into my mainstream/alternative points. And I also agree with your implied point, that there's no reason on this earth (there's my superlative again, and in this case I stand by it) to think that such a goal - 'save the publisher' as opposed to 'save the industry' - is unreasonable.

Best,
Ron
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