This is the best I can give you - the creator of Magic himself. The Everest of interviews. It took a couple of months of hard work to get this completed so I hope you appreciate this interview... (Oh we DO we DO! - The Ferrett)
Q: I know you've probably had to explain this a million times before but could you please explain just one more time just how you came up with the idea for this most brilliant of games?
A: There were two distinct events which lead to Magic. The first was the idea that a game in which all the cards broke the rules would be a really interesting game with a lot of variety. The second six years later was the notion that not all players had to have the same equipment.
The idea that players could each bring their own cards was exciting to me as a game designer because it made the game bigger than the box it came in - I could make up oodles of cards and players could decide for themselves what cards they liked. It also game players a taste of what game design was for me; while they were making their deck the player WAS the designer.
Q: An early twist in the plot. Do you have any idea why Netrunner didn't take off? I love the game and consider it Magic's equal but have had to sell my cards for lack of interest in my city.
A: I learned a lot from Netrunner. There were many factors to Netrunner's poor performance but the biggest was certainly Magic. Trading card games are hard to switch; players have a large investment in time and money. Also a good trading card game is eternally fresh in some sense so the urge to switch over isn't nearly as strong. If Netrunner was made by a company that needed it to work it would have had a better chance - but the best Wizards could really hope for was take Magic players from Magic.
Q: Could you please give me a bit of background concerning yourself? I've heard you are a Doctor of Mathematics...
A: I have a Ph.D. in Mathematics and was teaching at Whitman college when Magic came out. I enjoyed teaching and Mathematics. My math background is combinatorics which is a very game-oriented field of math. I also chose academics in part because I felt I would have time to study and design games on the side.
Q: Are you pleased with the direction Magic has taken since its inception?
A: I am very happy with Magic's growth. I believe that the game is simpler now and yet has more strategic depth. I love the Pro tour and the serious play it fosters. Not because I only like to play for blood but because I think that is an excellent skeleton upon which the game in all its forms - casual and serious - can survive.
Q: Are you going to create any more games?
A: I am always working on games. Many of the games don't make sense for WotC to publish but sometime in the far future I may publish these sorts of games myself. The biggest time sink that has prevented any of my games being published in the last year has been the attempt to do computer games.
Computer games are a completely different beast than board and card games and I have already been involved with several that will never see the light of day because the companies that were working on them got bought and the new companies cancelled the project or changed it. The money and time involved make it very hard to just whip out a game.
Q: If I may ask do you own a piece of WotC? (Hope I'm not getting too personal!)
A: Not any more! Hasbro owns all of WotC. I did have a piece of WotC before it was sold however having taken stock in WotC for Magic rights rather than royalties.
Q: You created many cards in the early days of Magic. Which is your favorite?
A: There are cards that I like for play value and for sentimental reasons. A card I like for play value is Magical Hack; I loved the weird ways you could use it. A card I liked for sentimental reasons was Wyluli Wolf a card named for my fiance now wife.
Q: Do you still play Magic?
A: Yes as I mentioned above a good trading card game should in some sense never get old. I will play Magic a lot for three months then take a few months off and return to find a new environment that is exciting to explore all over again. I will also rotate the form of game I am playing - Draft League Sealed Block constructed Standard constructed Team...
Q: Do you collect Magic cards?
A: No - only passively. I have a lot of cards in boxes and in particular I have a bunch of old cards but I am not a collector. I am a player.
Q: A lot of fans - including myself - would love to know if you sign cards through the mail as many artists do? (If not for the public how about just for me?)
A: No - I sign at conventions and Pro Tours I am at.
Q: If you could change one thing about Magic today what would it be?
A: I wouldn't really change anything about how the game is today. Given the opportunity I might choose to make the game I originally published more like it is today. To me the game has gotten better and better over time. There are points where the cardset isn't as interesting but the overall pattern is good.
Q: Despite great interest in old favorites Wizards seems to be refusing to reprint older cards: Ball Lightning Serra Angel Sengir Vampire and so on. Do you foresee a change of policy in the future?
A: No and I see no reason to. These cards can be replaced by equally exciting or more exciting cards. I would in general preserve the things that have gone before as special as long as we can make the things that are yet to come as good. That way both the past AND the future are special .
Q: Any chance you could add your powerful voice to the legion of fans who wish for the return of the Duelist?
A: I liked the Duelist. I am afraid that not enough people did though or it would still be in print.
Q: Wizards Friday night Magic seems to be working out wonderfully. But they seem to only run Type II tournaments. Do you have any idea why WotC doesn't run any or more Extended tournaments?
A: There is a high cost to every additional tournament type - in the sense that people will have less opportunity to find players that play"their" way. If everyone plays the same way there will always be opponents. This means that you want to have just enough tournament types to keep a large number of people interested but no more.
Now that doesn't mean there should only be Type II but it does mean that you shouldn't add a new tournament type casually. I would expect that if a new form of tournament were added Draft would be next and after that either Extended or Block constructed. I have no idea if this will happen but I am sure they have thought about it.
Q: Is there any comment you wish to make?
A: My dream is that games get the status sports have in world culture. That is that games achieve recognition as intellectual sport and game players intellectual athletes. Very related is the hope that games get recognized as being one of the most underutilized tools in education.
I will be very pleased if Magic can help this come about in any way or I can through accomplish it through any subsequent work.
That was nice. Hope you were entertained.
Sean Erik Ponce