Off Topic: The Wizard's New Forum

Oh, what a hot button issue. The new forums were thrust upon us without warning. Okay, maybe there was a little warning. Updates coming soon were the premise without a whole lot of explanation of what the new stuff was about. We just new it was new. New is always good and sounds better than changes. With the updates, we have a little bit of both. As a little preliminary statement, I won’t be thrusting myself upon a stake by talking about the many glitches, layouts, and other grossly hideous errors made by the bad, bad people of Wizards of the Coast. Those evil people. Me thinky it is just another ploy of Maro trying to destroy Magic. Today, the forums: tomorrow, Magic. If you don’t know what I am talking about, check out the definition for cliche with a picture of Maro next to it with the caption of him destroying Magic. I also hear he steals candy from babies and his voicemail says he doesn’t believe in fairies.

Anyway, the reason I am writing this piece is because Jiminy Cricket threatens to smack me with his umbrella. The reason being is because as Magic players we give Wizards a heck of a time. At every opportunity, we cry foul. I often wonder how much hate mail the employees of the company receive on a daily basis.

Dear Wizards,

You suck and I quit. Thank you for destroying the game I so love much and for causing my acne, my dog Loyalty from running away, and for blah, blah, blah...

As a person who has bemoaned them for many things, my conscience tells me I should speak out when they get something right. Maybe it is not perfect, but at least in the right direction. In my article Alpha Beta Beta, I heartily complained about the problem of connecting Magic players with each other. Somewhere in those 2,000 words, I also mentioned about forming groups to instill certain beneficial aspects. I highly, highly doubt anything I had to say had any influence. Nonetheless, the new forum tackles many of these problems.

Global to Local

Forums are a great way to connect Magic players. The awesomeness is only compounded by the fact I can argue with players around the world. At any given time, I can hop on the untamed Internet and proclaim Tarmogoyf sucks. It has no invasion and it dies to everything. Forums are great at forming a global community and can quickly point out my irrationality. As great as they are, problems do exist. Trolls sometimes run rampant and are as difficult to get rid of as Kitchen Finks. Postings are subject to public scrutiny. Sometimes the community reminds me of a State Fair. All the good and bad are welcome to festivities. Sometimes a lot of good shows up, other years a lot of creeps arrive at the party.

Wizards has given us the opportunity to form groups that we choose. Again, we choose. As much as I love hanging out with 16 year olds... Hmmm, kind a sounds bad. As much as I enjoy hanging out with people of all different age groups, sometimes I just want to chat with people of my own age group and interests. I can’t exactly talk with a 16 year old about finding a good fixed rate on a new house I am looking at buying or talk to a 60 year old about the last Nine Inch Nails concert. Groups allow me to find my niche. It makes me wonder who will be the first to form the Old Fogey group. You know, for anyone 30 and over.

The more appealing aspect is the fact I can form a group for my own local playgroup. I already formed one. Magic for Cannon Falls, MN. We currently have one member. It is a small town of 4000, but I am hopeful. In the meantime, I joined the Magic of Minnesota group. We have five members. In my opinion, it would be better, but the owner of the page has locked many of the features. The scenario isn’t exactly ideal for building a Minnesota contingency. Been looking for game shops, but many don’t have anything up yet. I really hope local shops utilize the tool to help develop their player base especially since the darn thing is free. I looked up a couple of the more quote unquote known stores. They have a page. Nothing is on it (Insert sound of hand smacking forehead). Either don’t have a page or put something on it. A blank page looks really stupid. Hi, we went through all the effort of making a membership for our shop, but are too lazy to actually do anything with it. What the hell is the point then? Morons.

Groups have a long way to go, but that is the point. It is the early stages of evolving from primordial clay. Groups have a large potential of being successful. Just as Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf have the potential of being good cards. Don’t find what you are looking for in a group? Well, form it. I can only fathom the groups that will be created? I am looking forward too the numerous hate groups. Magic Blue Haters, Wizards Haters, and Haters of Magic Haters.

Avatar to Personality

In forum land, people hide behind avatars to conceal a person’s identity. Avatars are fine and all, but I don’t think they should be used as a crutch. Anonymity can be good for people who require it because of sensitive jobs in companies who make CCGs or have a certain status within the public community. With the new forums, I have slowly noticed people are actually using their real pictures. Gasp. Shocking, I know. I think this is great. It makes people on the forum seem more real than just cardboard cutouts. I do find it a little humorous certain female members get quite a few profile views. My hunch is players can somehow identify with these people in some way.

Besides the fact I am going to hell, a player being able to have a homepage is great. Photos and videos can be uploaded. Picture and sound can bring people to life, not in the literal sense of course. It is very in your face. When I have more time, I will put up some pics and maybe some videos of myself. Maybe I will include some pictures of me looking, quizzical, zany, buff and studly. Fine, just quizzical and zany. After going through my digital photo album, I am definitely including pictures of my kitties. Besides the fact they poop a lot, they are awfully cute. My homepage is going to have some much traffic I can just feel it.

The great part is I won’t have to write a darn thing. People can just see it. This brings up an important argument I have been constantly hearing. Opponents clamor it is a bad facebook or myspace. Some aspects of it are true. However, why wouldn’t Wizards try to copy some of the most successful social Internet sites? Oh, I’m sorry. They should have emulated the worst sites possible. Of course they are going to try to utilize aspects of a successful site. If I were them, I would.

Use it or Lose it

Fact, Wizards supports anything successful. Look at EDH as an example. Players who actively utilize the new forums will get support. If the new forums doesn’t get the love it deserves, they will probably steer away from giving it more time and energy. It is common business sense. In my eyes, it is the best hope of finally connecting players and forming sustainable groups of players. For those who yearn to mentor newer players, now is your chance to form Magic Mentors group. It is up to you as Magic players to make the most of what Wizards is giving to the public as a resource. I for one am very hopeful the new forums will be a success.

Praise to Poo

It probably would be uncharacteristic of me to not give Wizards some flack about the new site. Avoiding the technical aspects, I am a little mesmerized by the lack of promotion of the new features. Um, hi, new features, promote it. I fully understand they are actively trying to promote Zendikar. I get it. However, why not have a week promoting the new forums? Seems ripe for a weeks worth of articles. In my opinion, the new forums could be intermingled with articles for the week. Maybe some video or pictures, something for crying out loud. This brings up the aspect some Wizard’s employees are not fully utilizing the new forums. Ugh, I don’t know why people will use the forums if Wizards employees are not fully embracing them. To be fair, a few are putting some effort into their homepage. Ken Nagle has a few things up along with other employees. If it doesn’t matter, then the Ford CEO might as well drive a Toyota. Simply, poor execution and dedication in my book. Lead by example darn it.

Over the years, I have made many acquaintances in the IT business. A big lesson I have learned from them is a website should have no more than four clicks. Any more than four clicks of a mouse is a mistake. My big gripe with the new forums and the website is it takes considerable clicking of the mouse to find the information I require. A website shouldn’t play Where’s Waldo. With the main page and the forum, I feel I am constantly clicking to find Waldo. This is one of those technical aspects I was avoiding, but I feel it is prudent enough to warrant mention.

Wizards to MTG Salvation

I suppose many may find it funny I am promoting another site. Well, it is Wizards. They make Magic. Besides, MTG Salvation does its own thing. Here, we are not corporate slaves or hindered by some business dogma. We are the salvation for Magic. We have the freedom to post freely our thoughts without the ire of certain forces. I really like MTG Salvation. Not just because I write for the site, but because of the spirit that makes MTG Salvation. I believe our site will continue to be successful because the foundation it is built upon and will thrive because of it.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to hop in my basket for a short trip.


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