Level Up!

Carlos gained 100 experience points. Carlos grew to Level 10! Carlos is now an Associate Editor!

I’m Carlos! I’m new here. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting acquainted with the content produced by GatheringMagic, learning the editing process and how everything happens behind the scenes so that the content train stays on track. Now that I’m up to speed, let’s get ready to start growing GatheringMagic’s content into something even more awesome!  . . . And for me to be Adam’s minion. Editor-in-Chief masterminds have to have minions, right? It’s only fair.

Introductions Are in Order
Now that we’ve been introduced, let’s talk about why I’m here, shall we?

When Adam asked me to write an introduction article, I never thought it would be difficult. After all, I’ve been writing about Magic for eighteen months now, and I’ve been doing technical writing for school for even longer. After years of playing Magic and writing for various purposes, I’ve learned a few things. First, Magic is hard. Second, writing is hard. Combining the two is a unique challenge, and it has resulted in an incredible set of experiences for me.

I started at CommanderCast.com when it was still commandercast.blogspot.com; those are the guys who first gave me an opportunity to become involved in the community. From there, things started moving pretty quickly. I took up writing and podcasting. I got on Twitter and made connections with some of the awesome Magic personalities. I got excited about Standard and Modern for the first time. I went to Grand Prix: Montreal and Pro Tour: Philadelphia. I leveraged my interest in Constructed into writing for other sites about Standard and Legacy.

At this point, I’ve written about plenty of different subjects for a number of different websites, and there’s one thing that’s almost universally true:

We can do better.

Magic has grown a lot this year. Innistrad block was a huge success. Videos and streaming have been picking up steam. The game and its culture are bigger and better than ever before, and the way Magic content is produced, edited, and consumed has to change to keep up with it. Here’s one thing that has become clear over the last year: Video content is the way of the future. Videos have a number of huge upsides over traditional written content that we’re only starting to see really exploited:

  • Generally, there’s a small overlap between good Magic players and good writers. Audiovisual content is another great way to share information and tell a story that does not require strong writing.
  • Videos are absolutely incredible for showing the mechanics of strong technical play, how to execute dynamic approaches to a format or matchup, and for focusing on very specific game states.
  • As we’ve seen with some of the more successful streams, interactive video content lets you make Magic content a more immersive and accessible experience, even for people less familiar with the game.
  • Specificity is a liability as well as a strength. There is value in teaching people how to navigate specific game states, but when you start deviating from the exact game state you’re in, things quickly become abstract and difficult to follow.
  • Video content by its nature moves in real time. This means that there’s a natural pacing, but also that you can’t stay on a particular subject for too long.

The short of it is that audiovisual content is great for the How? of Magic—for teaching people the rules, specific timings, and interactions. However, it’s important to keep in mind that video content can’t just replace written content; they serve different purposes. Here are some of the strengths of traditional written content

  • Written content can be consumed more quickly and in more compact intervals than video content—you can read an article for five minutes and get a lot out of it, but five minutes out of an hour-long video may not be especially helpful.
  • Writing lets you be more broad and abstract. You can create the context you need to make your point as clear as possible.
  • You don’t have to delve into specifics; you have as many attempts as you need to find the right words and examples.
  • Writing is great for creating and teaching a mindset. For example, one can write about how to approach a matchup or format, which cards and interactions are important, or what the texture of a game looks like.

Writing is great discussing for the Why? of Magic. Why is something a good or bad matchup? Which cards and interaction define it? Why is a metagame open to being attacked from a particular angle? Written content lets you construct an entire case; you can show someone the entire picture, whereas in a video, you get bogged down in specifics.

The exciting thing is finding out what happens when you start to combine these—when you find the limits of each medium and really start taking advantage of the strengths of one to cover the weaknesses of the other. There’s no telling what kind of awesome things will happen!

What’s Next?

Future Sight
This is an exciting time to be part of our community. There are more opportunities than ever to become involved, to meet incredible people, to have awesome experiences, and to get your name out there. My advice to you is the same that Andy from CommanderCast gave me when I was starting: “Just do it!” Whatever it is you want to do—streaming, writing, or YouTube videos—just get started. Do something unique; do it well. Take charge of marketing yourself, and put out a product that you’re proud of. People will notice. Good things happen. You won’t regret it. I certainly don’t.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to start. If you have thoughts and comments about GatheringMagic content, I want to know about it. Things you like, things you don’t, things you want to see more or less of, or ideas for new content—whatever it is, we want to know!

Magic and writing are both hard, and things only become more complicated when you throw the Internet into the mix! I’m excited to find out what happens next, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride!


@cag5383 on Twitter

cag5383 at gmail dot com