I’m crazy-passionate about really only a few things. Art is clearly one of them, as you’ve seen. Helping others takes an ever-close second place—like Mike Leither, poor guy. In what free time I have, I meet with graduating seniors in college and high schoolers whenever possible. I find it exhilarating to connect like-minded people, building future mentorships, and focusing interests into career paths. Sometimes, people just need a little shove; other times, they need a swift kick to get started. I find career counselors, like guidance counselors, far too overwhelmed with constantly-evolving job markets and social media’s varied proliferations in fields. We should supplement their offerings by offering more than another flyer or job posting from our company.
Our future workforce is largely not even created, yet as these guidance counselors say, perhaps as a failsafe when someone says, “I want to major in sociology,” or worse, when college is chosen as a stall to working in the real world. We’ve heard it from guidance counselors touting the importance of liberal arts education—learn all the things because you never know what you’ll need to know. The Boy Scouts instilled into me the motto, “Be Prepared,” and I actually believed that was enough. Knowledge alone gets about as far as sending in an application. A résumé and cover letter without a referral might as well be wasted paper at best—stress and wasted time at worst. It really is who you know in this world, and getting just one person on his or her feet with a job changes that person’s life. When your choice of dinner isn’t peanut butter sammiches or ramen, turns out you can innovate quite a bit. It’s hard to help others when your own situation isn’t set. So, build your own council to help you out.
I felt very close to getting a job in Magic in the past, but really, I was pretty far from it. I don’t live in Seattle; I only have family whom that I visit. If you think your skills and experiences are even remotely “ready” for an application, let me share a harsh truth with you: There are around a dozen people more qualified than you, who live in Seattle, whom the hiring manager already knows. Games are a passionate industry. It’s why wages tend to be lower than similar creative positions in “serious-business” occupations or brand/advertising agencies. With hundreds of applicants, no gaming company needs to cater to employees. They do, thankfully, but they don’t need to. WotC is in transition—make no mistake about it—so take heed of the myriad of changes, and sign up for the e-mail alerts for new jobs. It’s eye-opening.
If I were you, dear reader, I would wait a few months to years to see how Magic shakes out. It’s on the cusp of incredible things. I’m talking Walt Disney and seven dwarves types of bounds. This list is selected—I need to sleep, too—but these ones are coming indeed. Let’s go:
Vince Lombardi, the football coach
Magic needs coaches.
Yes, I know, Adrienne has been on a quest to investigate, this but it’s absolutely needed as the game grows. We need them for players to move up the ranks. Skills in Magic take practice and advising—that’s really it. (Time is implied of course.)
I don’t think these will be junior-high-type common coaches—no. I think of them more like golf swing coaches. You meet with him or her every month or so, with periodic event updates, debriefs, and short phone calls. Any face-to-face intensive time corrects mistakes over the past month and prepares a player for larger events.
Perhaps this role could be part sports psychologist. We had one on staff at the University of Minnesota. While I felt it was a little useless to track—run faster or just don’t—I think in some very mental and decision-making activities, they are incredibly useful.
Imagine if as part of a team, a coach was on hand—on staff. It would create a more even playing field, raising the entire strength of a team.
2. Art Gallery Owners, Brokers, and Art Agents
Sell that art!
I’m an art guy and a community builder. I say this because I was at Spectrum Live 2, the deux, calling/e-mailing/tweeting to people about available art. Were I a professional dealer, I would simply find deals, buy them, and ping folks that a new auction is up on eBay or that my gallery has a few new pieces available to be seen.
If you’ve see Instagram as of late, you’ll learn how to do it wrong.
We need a few art galleries that deal in Magic art. It raises the profile of artists who do Magic, raises the prices artists can offer their originals, and pushes the field of Imaginative Realism forward.
I simply cannot put on a major, multi-museum schedule of a Magic art exhibition yet. We’re not there yet. Galleries I believe can, sure, but museums? No.
I think we’re about five years away, though.
And frankly, artists need help.
If you’re an artist, your main job is to make art—not do marketing, protect your copyright, analyze the market for pricing changes, propose your work for museums or teach art-making to others. Artists do all of these things, but in a given day, what gets the priority? Doing invoicing for half the day makes zero dollars, and taking hipster Instagram photos and writing pithy hash tags also makes no money. If outside people can help, it frees up artists to just make the art, improving the field as a whole. I’d kill to hear a few artists were hiring interns to do this work, but even interns need oversight, which again, is time artists just don’t have. ArtPACT is going to be helping with this business side very soon. Their Kickstarter will drop imminently to fund a new website. I’ll save a full article for them later.
Agents, specifically, like sports agents—helping a lot of artists—are only a few years out. Maybe they’ll just be gallery owners and will be paid in kind. I could see that as possible.
3. Card Rental Service Providers
Rent all the things!
I know that many grinders and pros have shops behind them like Tony Hawk career mode. (You get a new custom skateboard, sweet!) The systematic usage of players being able to pay to rent cards—never having to worry about losing value with rotations and being freed up to play—just hasn’t happened yet. In college, part of my athletic scholarship was to pay for books. I had no idea what it was until I went to the library. I “bought” books and then returned them at the end of the semester. Condition didn’t matter, but since it really was a privilege, I only picked up used books. (I’ll admit that I liked the ones with notes in the margins. If it’s in pencil, you know the person was smart and knew how to take notes.) The system was cheap, and damaged goods were on the person. It incentivized protecting the products.
I hope a very urbanized area does some data analysis, figures out the cost of using perfect-fit sleeves inside larger sleeves and what it does to the cards after a full season of playtesting and playing in tournaments. Do they come back each season slightly played? Moderately played?
Is there a breakeven of marketing a service, yet still bringing in marginal funds from players?
Perhaps a bizarro PucaTrade will present itself, only dealing in very played cards, but renting them to players for tournaments all year. As incentives, perhaps being in the service grants you four free Drafts a month and free usage of a giant MTGO collection. I can’t imagine a service would need more than sixteen people to begin.
As Magic ages, more established players can link up. Having a business do so allows for contractual agreements and liability considerations.
4. Magic Journalists
Okay, so swap the notepad for an iPad.
Oh, we have Magic writers. Hell, I’m even considered a columnist, but a journalist I am not. I have written for magazines, worked at a newspaper, and written more than my share of the words, but without a better structure, I cannot call myself a current journalist. Magic writers have no centralized ethics group. There is no “way” to do it. We all know how “great” most professional players are at writing. (Tip your editors—we owe them.)
For example, let’s compare ESPN to oh, any Magic coverage.
What Magic report is instant? We’re still writing words. Hell, we’re only a half-step away from print. The time to write, edit, and publish is just time-consuming. I’d kill to see four people discuss on a short show. Twitter is the closest thing we have. We need a Rachel Nichols to give an evening Skype report right after a Rochester, NY Pro Tour Qualifier. I’d tune in while checking the Twitters, and I know you would, too.
In order for Magic to transcend into competitive gaming, we need better coverage. Picking random people to cover games is just not working that well. The game is twenty years old—we need to get this together. We need a Pat Summerall to call the Pro Tour.
Magic has been on ESPN 8, the Ocho. It’s time to get back on that channel—slowly, but surely. Competitive gaming is a market that ESPN simply won’t ignore if the market share demands it. Hell, they cover bass fishing and my boy Beety’s favorite sport, the spelling bee. We need to do it on our own. That national stage is where we need to get back into; it’s not that hard you guys. We just need a video camera and an organizing group.
5. Financial Traders
Magic is a commodity, not unlike gold, lumber, bitcoins or pork bellies. When financial offices start realizing that people can invest ten thousand dollars and more into sealed booster boxes and they guaranteed to sell them at 20% more, our entire game will change. When this happens, I’ll be terrified of the bubble that money will have on the game.
You think our speculators are rash and irrational? Apparently you haven’t seen the cyclical changes in day trading when cocaine-addicted traders take another hit. Entire countries feel the shockwaves.
Sure things in investing are rare, but the high-risk, incredibly lucrative, and high-reward system that Magic cards can provide won’t be ignored forever. There is one person who offers investments now. We only need a small department of about five people in a firm. That’s it. Millions of dollars are waiting to be made. Talk to an NBA player friend of yours; his investments are bad, so give him one that will work.
Jobs are coming! Be on the lookout for new ones.
I’m excited for futurists to argue what Magic 2050 will be and how to prepare for the coming changes. We will have financial people making grander predictions and sociologists making arguments when Mark Rosewater retires. Recruiters will change, and job hunting will be considerably different. If you can’t get a job with Wizards now, make one; they’re waiting to be made now.
That’s what I’m up to right now actually.