The Twenty-Five-Year Journey of Magic: The Gathering

This is a fascinating article because the main thrust is “inclusivity is going to make us rich.” I’ve been talking about this concept with friends a LOT lately, especially because of crazy rich asians and black panther: movie studios are giving “us” “representation” because they’re realizing they can make a lot of money off of “us.”

Do we have a term for this yet? I’m going to start calling it “representation capitalism,” lol.

I am so skeptical of how wonderful they say they are. But I’m really fascinated that their self-stated belief and the reason for their inclusivity (which is stated several times to be not moral but business) warrants an article. I also didn’t know any of the history, so that’s something.

I only have basically one deck from my Eudemonia days. It’s red elementals from Lorwyn, when planeswalkers came out, and the red one is Chandra Nalaar, who is mentioned in the article, so she’s in my deck too.


Only gotten half way through, but it is actually a lot of fun stuff they go over.

In an old Usenet post on the history of Wizards, Adkison acknowledged someone who is today an overlooked figure in Magic’s origin story. Beverly Marshall Saling, the company’s executive editor, brought a lot of high polish to its early products, Adkison wrote. Like many of his colleagues, she was an old friend from his D. & D. playgroup. One of her jobs in Magic’s first sets was to edit the rules for clarity and to choose the quotations that lent the cards a fantasy “flavor.” A line printed below an image of a flying woman: “Four things that never meet do here unite / To shed my blood and to ravage my heart.” A rule: “Tap to destroy a wall.”

Beyond designing a well-worded world and a compelling look, Saling and Jesper Myrfors, Magic’s first art director, wanted to avoid the oversexed and Eurocentric fantasy motifs of the past. Early on, Saling encouraged the development of an Arabian Nights-themed deck to get more people of color in front of players’ eyes. “Shahrazad,” a spell from that set, forces players to start a second mini-game and is illustrated by a smiling brown-skinned woman lying in a tent. It’s Garfield’s favorite card.

“Beverly really trained me on a lot of these topics,” Adkison recalled. “Right from the very first game we made, you had different ethnicities and both genders represented in the example text. Wizards started on the right foot.” Garfield was proud of the illustrations that Myrfors got together, largely from art students in Seattle, many of whom had never painted fantasy art before. He also acknowledged that Wizards had occasional lapses. “From time to time, the women being portrayed are more sexualized than they were back in the day, but if you look at the first set of cards that was published,” he told me, “you will definitely not find any fur-lined halter tops.”

Saling’s motivations arose, in part, from her memories of the gaming conventions she attended throughout the eighties, where the people who sat down for role-playing games with her apparently had no stake in her discomfort. “They’d say stupid stuff, like, ‘Oh, you know, the girl characters have to make sure that they don’t get their periods, because the monsters will smell the blood,’ or, ‘Oh, you’re here because your boyfriend plays.’ And it’s, like, ‘How do you know he’s not here because I play?’ ”

When Adkison gave Saling the opportunity to help bring Magic to the unsuspecting world, she had a chance to make the gaming community a little more hospitable, or at least to try. Saling, Myrfors, and other liberal-minded employees at Wizards presented their social-justice sensibilities as more than moral; inclusivity, they argued, would open new markets. “We are not just going to make this for the usual suspects. We’re going to try to make it something women would like. We’re going to try to make it something people of color would like. We’re going to try to make it something that everybody would feel welcome playing with and would have a good time doing,” she recalled. “We pitched it as, ‘We’re going to be different than the rest of the industry.’ ”

That gets into the bit you were mentioning, @judytuna.