måndag 28 oktober 2013

Beware of Magic the gathering!

It's easy for people to find things they don't approve of. Be it jazz music, Elvis's hips, horror films, or Dungeons and Dragons. One of the latest crazes about this have been violent video games. Before the GTA era however, Magic was seen as a dangerous influence by many of the more fundamental groups. As last weekend's tech session in Gothenburg didn't pan out, I'll instead write a little about the dangers of playing Magic. Beware!

The flavortext may be even worse when it's read backwards!
To set the stage, in the mid 90's there actually was quite a big stirring around the morality of RPGs. Magic joined the ranks as the first fantasy card game, and even big media was somewhat worried. Washinton Post had this to say (Under the Spell of 'Magic' by Aimee Miller; Washington Post; 7-27-94.):

"Unlike Dungeons and Dragons, which became an infamous tool for occultists, Magic has not developed an outside mythology. 'This draws on the milieu, the fantasy of Dungeons and Dragons' says Richard Garfield, the creative impetus behind Magic..."

I have a very hard time picturing the good Dr. Garfeild saying that D&D is a "famous tool for occultists", but I guess a quote says more than the thousand words before or after it. It obviously didn't stop here though. Once the more fundamental groups got some wind in their sails, the snowball started rolling. Probably my "favorite" article on the subject is Beware of Magic: the Gathering. Today, it is hilarious, and slightly dated. It spells "InterNet" in italics, and complains about an Unlimited set costing up to $1500. It does not spare the Bible quotes however:

"When anyone becomes preoccupied with thoughts that are an abomination to the Lord God Almighty there is going to be trouble. According to 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 we must reject thoughts that are contrary to God's word, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. If a person refuses to do that Romans 1:21 reveals the consequences -- Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. A darkened heart is serious business!"

So what happened then? Did all these rants have any effect? I think that these two cards from Unglued and Unhinged illustrates it the best:

The joke is the creature types. First one is from 1998, second from 2004.
You may have noted that Wizards decided to take the safe route here, to avoid  additional bad publicity regarding occult references. It's fairly known that they removed the pentagram from Unholy Strenght in 4th Edition, but did you also know that Ice Age was the last set with any clear occult references (or creatures of the type "Demon") for 7 years? The occult discussion around the time of Legends made Wizards remove cards like Demonic Hordes and Demonic Tutor from 4th Edition, and made them very conscious about what cards they could print for the better half of a decade. Today it seems almost funny that people though you could be worshipping the Devil by playing Magic, but at the time of 93/94 it was a real concern for the company.

Misquoting the Bible on printed cards may also be a bad idea when arguing with people who think you are blasphemous. Ecclesiastes 3:19 actually begins “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts..."; the card Revelation instead quotes the Deuterocanonical book Sirach (aka Ecclesiasticus), the typo was fixed in Chronicles. Now THAT is some sub-cultur trivia.
 Next weekend it's time for BSK! I'm planning to play Magic at the actual convention this year, for the first time in about four years. My vintage and legacy decks are complete, and I have a pile of casual decks I hope to try out as well. Most exciting of all though, I'm in the final stages of the biggest trade in my life set up for next Saturday. It will be an exciting weekend :)

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