When Magic was not a big franchise yet, it was only just an idea. Richard Garfield was a grad math student at Penn in 1991. During that time Garfield had a dream, a wish, which at that time was quite rare, that he could have his hobby as a job. Since his days in Philadelphia, Garfield had been coming up with a board game called as RoboRally, with Byzantine rules and a high production cost.
This was the idea Garfield gave forward to Peter Adkison. Garfield’s fantasy was shared by Adkison: Adkison was CEO of Wizards of the Coast, the Seattle area gaming startup. At that point, Wizards was merely a weak company, almost broke after facing a lawsuit over the copyrights of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).
Adkison objected that Garfield’s game would cost too much, but when Garfield proposed about combining the play of cards with the collectability like that of baseball cards, Adkison without hesitation agreed to this plan, hence work was started immediately.
After that, a team of designers, play testers and artists worked day and night for the course of several months to bring the game to the market. The budget of the production costs kept rising – this game would be more expensive than RoboRally – both, Garfield and Adkison, collected and mustered money together. Any inconvenience, like a retracted loan or a late supply order, could have killed the game in its development stage but Adkison fought against all that.
Magic was premiered at a gaming convention called Origins, held that year in July in Fort Worth Texas. The game intrigued the people, it was one of its kind. It didn’t belong to any genre. But everyone had only one question – Would it really work? Magic was released to the public on Aug 5, 1993 and it was a swift success. Nerd conventions after origins were flooded with people. People wanted cards and more cards. Those little square cardboard pieces of 63 by 88 mm, with majestic art on them and names like Black Lotus, Craw Wurm and Ancestral Recall began to be desired by people. That was just the beginning of the craze of Magic, soon players of tabletop games found themselves exceeded in numbers. The gaming world changed wasn’t the same, and hasn’t been.
Since 1993 to 1995, eight ‘sets’ or expansions were released by Magic which included new cards, new game mechanics and new art. Some of these sets didn’t lose their charm with time, people still play with those cards which were designed decades ago. This way a franchise was born and fantasies were carved into reality. Wizards revolutionized the gaming industry and stood its ground for a long time to come.
Today Magic the Gathering is one of the most popular card games on the planet, played by over 10 million players as well as having over 70 expansion. By the look of thing, it’s bound to get bigger!