Every once in a while, I get the urge to bite on something really huge and see what happens – and judging from Michael J Flores’ response in our forums, he gladly would have chomped my head off if only I had been a bit closer in proximity to NYC. But Mike clearly cares about the idea and the game just as much as I do, so no hard feelings, eh?
I guess this sort of thing provides a challenge to me (where will this intellectual endeavor land me?), and it also tells me how big my mouth has grown since the last time I bit something really big, which is always a useful thing to know. Anyway, The Magic Writer’s Hall of Fame is the latest topic for me to gnaw on, and thus far it has been an interesting ride.
The response to the idea of a Magic Writer’s Hall of Fame has been exceptional, and while most everyone has quibbled about who was selected or how the Hall is constructed, in general the feeling for this topic from the public has been that it’s an excellent idea that deserves to happen now. After taking a great deal of advice from all parties concerned (and especially from The Ferrett and Gary Wise), I therefore propose that we back up a bit from the original way I had things laid out, and create the Hall properly.
I am in the process of forming a committee of writers and editors that will choose the very first Hall of Fame in a similar fashion to how Baseball chooses its members of the Hall. Each writer (or nominee) will be proposed as a possible member to the Voting Committee and then each of members of the Committee will simply vote”yea” or”nay” to their inclusion. If a nominee receives an as yet to be determined percentage of”Yea” votes from the committee, they will be inducted; otherwise, that nominee will have to wait to be inducted at a later date. Any member of the Committee that is nominated for a spot in the Hall will be excluded from voting for themselves.
The idea of”wings” as I proposed in my original article on this topic will be done away with, and from this point writers will either be in the Hall or they will not (though you should feel free to create your own wings and argue about who should be included where until the cows come home). This should remove the controversial aspect of my original proposal about where people should be placed, and also further the process of making the Hall an exclusive institution. Only the very best writers will be enshrined. This may result in more hurt feelings and fewer inclusions than my original idea, but most people feel that this way is best. (And since they will now be voted on by a committee, all of their ire will no longer be directed at me. This, as they say, is a Good Thing!)
The Voting Committee will be formed of both new and old participants in the community. The idea here is to mix noted Magic historians like Mike Flores, Gary Wise, Scott Johns, Brian David Marshall, and Ben Bleiweiss with some of the current crop of writers in order to form a Hall that legitimately spans the history of Magic writing. No members of the committee have been chosen yet, so if you feel that you want to be included in this body and have not been contacted (sometimes public e-mail addresses are a Good Thing, too), please let me know.
Potential members of the Voting Committee should know that the initial voting for the Hall will be time-consuming, but after that has been completed, voting will only take place twice a year and will be a relatively simple process.
I stated in my original article that I needed help – and with the response I’ve received so far, it seems like there are a lot of people out there who are ready, willing, and able to do just that.
In order to be eligible, each nominee will have to have been writing for at least one calendar year. Since the average lifespan of a Magic writer’s career is three to six months, this will ensure that all members of the Hall will have substantial writing careers for the Committee to judge against, while not including any bias against those who have relatively brief but spectacular enough careers where they make a lasting impact on the game.
The exact criteria for what should qualify each nominee for induction will have to be fleshed out, but the general idea is that the Hall should be populated by writers who have made a lasting impact to the knowledge, theory, or flavor, of the game. These are writers who should have amassed an excellent body of work over the course of time, and whose writing can and should be remembered for both future players and for posterity’s sake.
That’s all for now on what I believe should be the format of the Hall and the rules for induction, now to address other tangents…
For those who have argued that the game is too young for this sort of thing and that we should wait to create a Hall, I find that sort of argument ridiculous. First off, Magic is a Collectible Card Game. If you look at all the other Collectible Card Games out there, none have survived or thrived for anywhere near the amount of time that Magic has. That said, how much longer will the game be around? Two years? Five years? Fifty? Card games are a fickle thing, and while I hope that Magic has the longevity of Bridge, Texas Hold ‘Em and the World Series of Poker, I’m not willing to hold my breath for another ten years to wait and find out.
If we knew that the game would be around for a hundred years, then you could say that the fifty-year mark would be an adequate amount of time to start a Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, we have no idea how long the game will be around, and in my opinion it will be a truly remarkable story if it lasts another ten years. Therefore, what better time is there to start an idea like this than now?
Besides, unlike any of the typical sports that some of us might follow, the game and rules of Magic quite literally change three times a year – and if sports do make changes, it certainly isn’t in the middle of the season (excluding this year’s change of the NBA playoff structure in the first round, anyway). Extrapolated over the ten years that Magic has existed, we’ve really endured about thirty seasons of the game so far because the writing and knowledge of the game change with every new set. I’m honestly surprised that no one else has really broached the issue of a Writer’s Hall of Fame previously, and most of the people who have corresponded with me feel the same. The time for this project to become a reality is the present.
Other people have argued that instead of a Writer’s Hall of Fame, we should have an Article Hall of Fame. To those people I say, why can’t we do both? My explicit purpose was to recognize the contributions of writers to our game, but a place exists to recognize individual articles as well. Anyone who wants to champion this project should feel free to do so, post-haste. I’m all for the idea, but I seem to have other projects filling my schedule for the foreseeable future.
I also think that Anthony Alongi idea about yearly awards has a great deal of merit and is something that should be pursued by the community. My article started because I wanted to talk about my love for Magic writing and give some recognition to deserving writers. I’m certainly not going to complain about additional recognition being handed out each year, as long as it is relatively objective and doesn’t become the vote-fixing fiasco that The Writer’s War (may it rest in peace) seemed to become.
In case you missed Anthony’s post, he first suggests that we develop a series of categories for writing, such as these:
- Overall Strategy/Skill Improvement (quite simply, how to play Magic better, in any sense or format)
- Tournament Strategy (the”before” articles on metagame, set analyses, specific card analysis and use, etc.)
- Tournament Reporting and Analysis (the”during/after” articles, would include Sideboard-style stuff, as well as personal reports and wrap-ups)
- Casual and Multiplayer
- Opinion and Issues (self-explanatory)
- Game Insider (artist interviews, research and development insights, player interviews, etc.)
And then he said,”Each year, StarCityGames (or a collaboration with other sites, to maintain impartiality) could settle on four to five writers (with one or two representative articles each) for each category. Public votes, just like the Academy.”
To me, it seems like an excellent companion to the idea of a Hall, and it’s my belief that they can co-exist pretty peacefully. The trick will be in figuring out how to construct the nomination and voting process so that it returns meaningful results. The question is whether Ferrett, Ray Moore, or some other notable in the community is willing to take up the torch and move the idea forward.
Anyway, after all the discussion I felt the need to update my original ideas and provide you with an idea of where I would like to go from here. As always, feedback is not only welcome, it is demanded, so if you have something further to say on this issue… Sound off.