The Magic Show, as you know it, will no longer be produced as a regular video program. Soon, it may not exist at all. Let’s talk, shall we?
Things Have Changed
I call up my best friend the other night after a lot of thought.
“I don’t think…I don’t think I can do it anymore.”
“You don’t think you can do what anymore?”
“The Show. I can’t keep doing this. I can’t keep freaking myself out over it.”
“Why do you make the Show?”
“I don’t know…because I love the game? Because I’m good at it?”
“But you haven’t been able to give it the same attention lately.”
“And what you wanted to get out of the show, don’t you have that?”
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
“You created the Show to do something. To get somewhere. I think you’ve done that.”
“And you don’t have to â€˜kill it.’ You just can’t do it every week. Things have changed.”
I sighed. I knew he was right.
“Yeah man,” I said. “Things have changed.”
Let’s get this started off right — I am one lucky guy. In fact, one of the luckiest I know. I’d guess you’d call it the American Dream. You work hard, you put in your dues, you get success. This game and community of ours, it has been incredibly good to me. It gave me confidence and friendship when I was younger, it gave me culture, community and livelihood as an adult.
I didn’t want to ever write this article. But I can’t deny it: Things have changed. And I’d rather go out on my own terms.
Let’s get this out proper: The Magic Show, as you know it, will cease to be as of now. It is no longer a “regularly scheduled” program by any sense. The only two pieces of Magic Show video I can promise on a regular basis are spoilers Wizards of the Coast sends me, and live set reviews. As time goes on, even this may change.
I’ll be attending Worlds in a month and producing what may be the last Pro Tour Magic Show. It is also likely to be the last Pro Tour I will attend in a while. I worked hard for years to try and show my view of Magic, craft my love letters to the culture, strive to provide entertainment for my fellow geeks. I created a show I wanted to watch.
In a way, I’d like to think I also made a good dent in the culture I love so much.
Five years ago I saw the tide rolling in: YouTube had just came out, and I was confident it was the future. Why hadn’t anyone else done anything with online video? I began with some Magic Workstation videos, and progressed into my Coldsnap Limited Review. Which, as a work of comedy is passable, but as a work of strategy is far worse.
I debuted MTGO videos before the rest of the world, featured in the Battle Royale we ran back then. I then figured I would create an unscripted show–you know, just ramble about the Magics. Luckily my then editor, Craig Stevenson, steered me in the right direction. Here is that fateful email where I pitched the Show:
Dude, you won nats! Congrats man!
As for me and my wacky ideas, I would love to get video going.
What I was thinking was a weekly video + 500 words or so. A
10-minute video can take hours and hours to produce depending on the
subject matter, research, and editing.
It’s fairly time consuming to do the pop-ups as seen in the videos
(compare my White Limited review to my most recent Green Limited
review and see the quality difference) but I think those sort of
touches are worth it.
Basically, as I do this I’ll get better. I just don’t want to spend
time on it and not have it featured. That’s where SCG comes in, what
sort of video would be right, and what subjects to tackle.
…and the rest is history.
I’d like to think I’ve broken a lot of ground. My first live show, even today, has echoes of what would be. My first real breakout I felt occurred about a year later with my Pro Tour: Valencia Show. I will never forget being at Spiel Essen, showing up at the booth where the rest of the Invitationalists were located and seeing it empty. Where was everyone? Huddled around a laptop in the enclosed safety cage watching my PT show. The fantastic conversations I had with Mark Rosewater at the event, giving me helpful tips to keep the show improving. The idea of stringing together questions, musical montages of players, player profiles, filming the winner shot, all of that is there.
I created the editing style of play-to-play that is still in action today (that’s a link to my proof of concept. See how far I’ve come). I’m still contracted to narrate and produce condensed videos of our game’s most important matches so that you can see, years later, in just a few minutes, exactly what happened. I’m incredibly proud I can say I paved the way for future video editors to use my examples as a template for their own work.
It’s taken me years to figure out the most efficient work flow, the best way to present an interview, and develop my ear and eye for editing. It takes a long time to get good at anything, and while I’m not hanging up the hat for good, there will be no more sharpening of the blade each week. I’ll only pull out that weapon when need be, and get to work on projects by proxy to fulfill the creative rush I get when working on video projects.
For a little explanation as to why this is happening, let’s discuss what I now do at StarCityGames.com. Many are under the impression that the Magic Show and a few Twitter and Facebook posts are all I do at the company. When I was first hired as a Community Manager, producing the show and getting our social presence going was definitely a goal and one of my responsibilities. But with 10 years of IT and web development management experience, and leaving a company who had trained me in process improvement and root cause analysis, I quickly tried to make myself useful. And if it was responsibility I was looking for, it was responsibility I got.
Currently I oversee and manage all internal IT for SCG and web development for StarCityGames.com, both internal and external projects, featuring two full-time programmers. If you see something new and different on the site, you’re pretty much guaranteed I had a little something to do with it. As with most of those who work in web development at an online company, I’ve spent long hours and many months of my life working hard on features you’ll never actually see, but make the lives of SCG employees better.
I work every day with a team of amazing people in our content and marketing department to make awesome things happen. I created our weekly newsletters, Select and Premium, and strive to bring interesting content to your inbox each week. I got to hire Gerry Thompson and create GerryTV, something I’m super proud of and know will only get better. This gives me the ability to help shape and work on a Magic entertainment program but without all of that silly writing, directing, performing or editing and post-production stuff. 😉
I’m also in charge of Mobile development, which includes four releases of our iOS app, and overseeing the release of SCGMobile Android, still on target for a year-end release. I created and manage SCGLive, hired its director(s), commentators, created its broadcast guidelines and rebranded our coverage into something we are certainly proud of. It’s fantastic to have the ability to foster a program from idea to fruition, with an incredibly talented team of commentators and behind the scenes guys making it happen.
Now this isn’t me running the humblebrags. This is me explaining that I’ve stretched myself pretty thin, things have begun to suffer, and I’d rather you guys not have to watch my great show turn into a not-so-great show and limp off into the sunset.
So I’m going to end it.
I’m not sure what to do now. I’ve felt this sense of community obligation for years now; every week, I felt the need–no, the obligation–to create, to be creative, and oftentimes I felt I really got there. The incredible support from everyone in the community drove me to work harder and produce better work. The Pro Tour and GP shows were my crown jewels, my chance to show what I could really do with Magic and video, to show what I could do with years and years of being a film geek.
I do know one thing–I’ve been incredibly, insanely humbled these past few years as I worked week-in and week-out, trying to make something cool.
I now have the best of both worlds: I have a great library of old content, and the freedom to create more without the pressure to produce each week.
All I can say is I’m where I want to be. Pete Hoefling is a fantastic guy and a hell of a leader and businessman. I’m honored to work for SCG and am amazed every day at how the business is growing, and things are only getting better. I love my coworkers and the ability to work alongside such awesome people. I’m slowly getting more comfortable in a more managerial role, helping guide the machine from the inside, while still getting to have fun out in the world with Twitter and Facebook.
Has Magic given back to me? You bet your ass it has. I’ve traveled all over the world, been on multiple(!) free cruises, met an endless amount of fans, and I wake up to my dream job. I’ve never paid for a single plane ticket to any event I’ve ever attended. I have friends in places near and far, and I consider myself lucky to have all of them. My family is large and loving, my children are smart and healthy, and my world is at peace.
In other words, life is good. I hope this isn’t the end of something great, but rather the start of the next stage of my life that’s even greater.
You’ll hear from me soon, as you always do, but as for the Show, it’s time to close the curtain. The final Magic Show, as you have known it, will come from my footage from Worlds in San Francisco. I intend to make the most of it. You will also, of course, find me twittering every day as I do, and I will be just as active as I’ve always been.
I love this Show, I love this community, and I always will.
Thank you guys, truly. Until next time Magic players, as always, this is Evan Erwin. Tapping the cards…so you don’t have to.