I’m not sure if the following will make sense to everyone because I haven’t planned it out much, but it needs to be said, even if I only echo what you already have been flooded with the past few weeks from every Magic-related media outlet there is besides the Mothership.
You’ve all seen or read somewhere of the events of the stock market crash that preceded the Great Depression. People losing a fortune overnight, going bananas, and hurling themselves out of office building windows because they just can’t take it anymore. None of my readership lived during that time, so we think of it as a cute little story, usually attached to a lesson about not betting what you can’t afford to lose or something. It was a very real event though, and was an incredible tragedy that so many lost their lives, especially brokers, analysts, and others whose financial wisdom was so valuable in the dark days soon to come.
Brothers and sisters, it is happening to Magic right now.
No, no one is going to kill themselves over this. We’re not even to the fun part yet, where countless will figuratively ‘jump ship,’ and be lost to our community forever. Right now, we exist in the few days before the real panic. There is a festering feeling of uncertainty, of unrest, that permeates everyone. No one knows what the future will hold, but we know that we have invested much. Every day, our media continues to churn out article after article that there is nothing but doom and gloom in the future for us if something is not done.
In the 1920s, the heads of many large banks tried to stem the tide of fear by buying tons of stock at over market value, to restore confidence in the market. For a time, it worked. We have our own champions to help us. We have writers and pros alike who have spoken out very vocally about all the changes that have occurred, and predicted the times to come. There are petitions, Facebook Groups, and calls to wear all black at the last Worlds just next week to show our dislike of the future of OP.
In both cases, those who stepped up had alot to lose, so their dedication to their efforts is expected. Bankers don’t like the market crashing and having all their loans default, and those who have spoken out in the community have the community itself to lose. This is not an altruistic effort by any means. For the banks, it was about money. Here, it is dedication born from a passion for the community that was birthed in 1993, and grown through good times and bad to this day.
What is uncertain is whether in both cases, will they fail. The bankers failed to permanently restore confidence in the market because the crash was unavoidable; the series of events leading to it made it an inevitability, and no amount of buying stock can turn the tide of a massive economic backlash. For us, the backlash is the end of competitive play. The question is, is there a level of support for the various movements to restore or fix what has happened that can actually make a difference?
The answer is irrelevant. If the effort is for naught, and you did nothing to help, you suffer the same as those who put their heart and soul into what they believe is saving Magic. If you believe that you will be unaffected by what is going on, that you are just a part time FNM player who could give a crap if the best in the world are recognized, consider for a moment the future.
There will be no worldwide community. Star City will not have daily content from skilled and creative writers who care about what they write. Sure there will be a Magic store there, all the sites will still sell cards, but no longer will you log in at 12:01 to see Chapin’s Monday piece on the events of the weekend, or on Friday morning to see what Flores has to say.
“Where did they go?” you might ask, or perhaps “What bullshit, if they loved the game they would still write.”
Writing about Magic takes alot of work, even for the best in the world. It is completely unlike being a poet, or a reporter. So much of what one does is all based on opinion, supported by fact. It’s probably more like writing for a science or medical journal than a newspaper. People will scrutinize what you have written, and if an argument is poorly constructed, you WILL be called out on it. Chapin and Flores will likely still love Magic in this future, as will many other excellent players who used to write(including me), but they are off doing something else with their lives. Magic is less a part or full time job that they love and more of a side hobby now. They couldn’t take it anymore, and they ‘jumped out the window,’ even though the community really needed them.
“Why did everyone leave?”
I’ll leave this to the more potent writers who explain, just printed TODAY, why.
http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/misc/23073_The_Time_To_Act.html Get a premium account you cheapskate. Chapin writes so well I would read an article he wrote about fishing, and his work alone justifies the cost.
If you think doing this is cheap, too bad. Their thoughts are far more organized than mine. It is also just a very small sample of the dozens of ones like it all over the place.
To sum them up, Chapin stated that anyone who makes money from Magic has a symbiotic relationship with WotC, and WotC has developed a track record of spitting in the face of those who benefit them by continually cutting back on the things that allow those types of players to exist.
Chas cited a chain of events that starts with the best in the game not being able to be ‘pros,’ because of the incredible grind it now requires, and simply leaving the game because they have better things to do than try to grind out those four wins at FNM every week between GPs. The best Magic players don’t always play the most Magic, but that is exactly what defines the best now. After the brilliant minds leave, people spend less time thinking about Magic since there is so much less out there to inspire them, and the content that exists now isn’t nearly as good(imagine instead of reading Chapin, or Kibler, you had to read ME. I’m sure that’s not worth a premium account). Following that, prices for competitive cards drop since there is far less interest in big sanctioned event since hey, Average Joe can’t qualify for the PT ever, so what’s the point of paying $60 for Jace, or $30 for Snapcaster? To win a few boosters at a local store? No thanks, I’ll just play some homebrew, or Red. Slowly, the glue that held the community together for over a decade comes apart, and though Magic is still around, and sets are still produced, not nearly as many care. Local stores are like their own little community, and that’s it. Reminds me of how I see the end of civilization. People huddling in hobby shop basements, marveling at a beat up Jace, the Mind Sculptor someone found for a dollar at a garage sale in dim light, oblivious of what once existed.
This might seem crazy to you, as it did to me at first. Like many others, I give WotC the benefit of the doubt when it comes to change. I’ve been around for a long, long time, and I’ve witnessed just about everything from the emergence of Type II to Ravager Affinity to the banning of Jace. I’ll never forget being in KC at the GP on Sunday night on the mezzanine drafting with some people from all over the country, when Ceilyn’s voice echoed through the hotel that “Jace and Stoneforge are banned!” and the who’s who of the Magic world, gathered at the bar nearby, all got on their phones at the same time to verify.
These changes aren’t creative changes though, they are financial, and shake the community in a totally different way than the above events. Already, I’m losing sight of the old ‘gravy train’ dream I was so close to years before(had it in fact). When I lost in round 8 of the PTQ this weekend to not make Top 8, I was disheartened that I didn’t quite play well enough, but in the back of my mind already I was thinking “I suppose it really doesn’t matter much. What was I gonna do, go to Honolulu, make Top 50 like I did in Kobe and not get invited to the next one without grinding far more than I wanted?” It’s already there, slowly eating away at my desire to play, and to compete at the highest level I can achieve. Sure, it didn’t stop me from GOING to the PTQ this time, but will it eventually get to me? Will I throw myself out the window too? Will you?
That future, and the present we have now, is why you should care. Join a Facebook Group. Complain on forums and Twitter. Write to the addresses below and say what you have to say. It’s been a long, meandering read full of organizational errors and poorly thought out sentence structure, but I needed to say this. It all stems from that feeling I had after the PTQ. I cared far more that I felt like I was Bill Buckner and I just let Knight score and the Mets win, but the fact that other devious thought was there at all is something I have not felt ever in my more than ten years of playing competitive Magic. Even if you think these people won’t get anything done, you have to, if you care at all for the game you know. Now go.