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Archive for the ‘geek’ Category

Or all of the writing that came out—some stuff hasn’t yet seen the light of day. Below is the writing that you can enjoy right now, while huddling under blankets near a fire, sipping cocoa . . . or while taking breaks from grading student papers . . .

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Dear Cedric Phillips and GerryT,

Having listened with great interest to the “Change Worth Fighting For” episode of the Cedric Phillips Podcast, I felt compelled to reply. On that episode, you wondered why professional Magic players have seen their fortunes decline so precipitously over the past ten years, and what they can now do to improve their situation. I believe I can help explain this reversal of fortune, and offer some relevant advice. What follows is a little on the long side, and perhaps a little depressing, but I hope you will nonetheless find it edifying. If you like, it would be my pleasure to discuss these matters further.

About me, briefly: I’ve played Magic on and off since the release of Fallen Empires, and am a regular consumer of Magic content. Among other things, I’ve watched every Pro Tour since PT Los Angeles (October 2005); I’ve watched countless LSV draft videos and Twitch streams; I’ve listened to hundreds of episodes of Limited Resources, Mark Rosewater’s Drive to Work podcast, and various other Magic podcasts; and I’ve read just about every column that Mark Rosewater has ever written. At the same time, I’m also an English Ph.D. and author whose research interests include the economics of fantasy artworks—for instance, my most recent book, I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture, tells the story of how geek culture went from being an underground phenomenon to a mainstream demographic. Given that, I tend to view Magic from a financial perspective—by which I don’t mean living the dream of playing on the Pro Tour, or making a fortune by speculating on Magic cards, but rather trying to understand why Wizards of the Coast makes the economic decisions that it does.

I am hardly a Wizards insider. But I believe that my research into Magic’s financial history, coupled with my broader knowledge of fantasy franchises, enables me to understand why Wizards has chosen over the past decade to disinvest in its Pros, even if that decision appears baffling and counterintuitive to those players. For years now I’ve watched Pros complain about their situation, wondering why, if Magic is doing so great, then why are the Pros suffering? Shouldn’t their fortunes rise and fall with Wizards’? As you yourselves put it on your podcast, “the stars sell the cards,” by which logic if Wizards wants to succeed, then it needs to build stars. Just like how the NBA promotes LeBron James, and not simply “hoops,” Wizards should promote, say, Reid Duke, and not simply “Siege Rhino.” By that same logic, if Wizards doesn’t build stars, then it won’t sell cards, and everyone’s fortune will decline.

I sympathize with your argument. I love watching professional Magic, and once attended a Pro Tour as press just so I could blog about it. But at the same time, I think that your logic is mistaken, and I suspect that your arguments will fail to impress Wizards. Because while it appears to you that Wizards is behaving irrationally, or foolishly, the fact remains that the company long ago settled on a business plan that involves investing less in its Pro players, not more. This is because Wizards has already tried the strategy that you cite—promoting Magic by championing its Pros—only to find that it didn’t work out that all that well. Indeed, it proved nearly catastrophic. And because of that, as well as for other reasons, Wizards has spent the past ten years rebranding Magic as something other than a competitive tournament game.

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Last week, I did an interview with Florida’s Marc Bernier Show in the run-up to the Miami Book Fair, where I did a panel to promote my latest book, I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture. Many thanks to both the Show and the Fair, as well as to my co-panelists, authors Jonathan French (The Grey Bastards) and Mike Witwer (Dungeons and Dragons Art and Arcana: A Visual History)—I had a great time!

The interview is online; you can check it out here. I talked about how and why geeks have gone mainstream, and why the geek renaissance won’t be ending anytime soon. I also offered some thoughts on Stan Lee’s passing.

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Specifically, it won “Best Illustrated Book on Film” at the Frankfurter Buchmesse Film Awards. Congratulations to Andrew DeGraff, whose art never ceases to amaze me, and to everyone at Quirk who helped make this book happen!

Also, as I noted in the last two posts, Cinemaps is now available in Japanese and Spanish. More information about the book can be found after the jump:

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I wanted to collect in one place all of the secondary materials related to my most recent book, I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture. Below you’ll find links to the audiobook, online excerpts, interviews with me, reviews, and related articles. I’ll also update this post as new materials become available. … Enjoy!

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Last month, I visited Google (as part of their Talks at Google series) to discuss my latest book, I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture. Over the course of an hour, I spoke with Josh Pyle and other Google employees about how geeks have become a mainstream demographic, and what that entails: what geeks want, why corporations increasingly cater to geeks, and how those intersecting desires have resulted in the geek community’s current political struggles. Thanks to Google for inviting me to speak, and thanks to everyone who checks out the video below—I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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the girly geek blog

Have you ever opened up a book, read the first few pages, and silently had the revelation that you had just read about your own life?

This past weekend, I read a book that did exactly that. It was magical.

Usually, when I get absorbed in a book like that, it’s some sort of fantastical adventure where the protagonist has a personality or worldview similar to my own. This time, though, I went a little out of my comfort zone with a social sciences book called I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture by A. D. Jameson.

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