Excerpt: “Magic: The Gathering’s digital history, from first build to end step”
Following the 20 year digital journey of the world’s greatest trading card game from tabletops to eSports
I’ve made no secret about how Magic: The Gathering — a hugely popular trading card game with origins in the early ‘90s — has impacted me as a writer, gamer, and creator. More than Tolkien, more than Final Fantasy, Magic is responsible for setting me on a lifelong obsession with Fantasy. Over on VentureBeat, I had the opportunity to dig into Magic’s 20+ year history as a digital card game — from early attempts to replicate the tabletop experience, to zany arcade offshoots, to its recent move into the eSports scene with Arena.
It’s not often I get to combine two of my biggest hobbies in a single piece of journalistic reporting, but matching Magic up with video games is a perfect recipe for storytelling, and I took that chance to chat with Magic pros, journalists, YouTubers, Streamers, and Wizards of the Coast to uncover how it all came to be.
Whether you’re a gamer, a longtime Magic fan, or somewhere in between, there’s a lot of fascinating history to uncover. Enjoy!
“I’ve played way more digital Magic over the years than paper Magic,” Saffron Olive told me when I asked him about his history with the game. “While I started off as a causal paper player a long time ago, as I became more interested in Magic, I started playing more and more Magic Online,” he said, referring to Magic’s long-running online client, Magic: The Gathering Online (MTGO). As Saffron Olive began producing more video content, he moved even further away from paper Magic “since digital is way, way easier for video production and streaming.”
With his jubilant beard and infectious laugh, Saffron Olive, whose real name is Seth, is a writer for MTGGoldfish, a noted Magic site with articles, videos, and decklists, and one of the community’s best known “brewers” — players who find enjoyment crafting and playing creative decks, rather than chasing the “meta” decks popular with competitive players. From his home in upstate New York, he can be found daily streaming some of the most unique decks the game has to offer.
Like Saffron Olive, I play more digital Magic these days than paper Magic. I got back into the game around 2013’s Dragon’s Maze digital and paper expansion set, just after a period of major growth for the game during 2009–2012, which Hipsters of the Coast‘s Rob Bockman attributes to a “digital-driven surge of popularity.”
But it took a long time for digital Magic to catch on the way it did during that period.
Read more “Magic: The Gathering’s digital history, from first build to end step” on VentureBeat.