But one mistake a lot of people make is assuming that since WotC has recognized these different motivations in players, it makes these motivations equally valid. Oh, for WotC it's all equally valid: Johnny's money is as valuable as Timmy's or Spike's. But in the actual real world, I'm sorry, but Johnny's just wrong.
Now I know, lots of people just dropped their monocles wondering why I (known as an uber Spike on the forums) am calling out Johnny instead of Timmy. Because Timmy is still seen by many as the little kid who plays crap mega-beasts and thinks they're good. The thing is MaRo has already busted that outdated image of Timmy in his later articles. The real differences between the demographics is this:
- Timmy plays to experience something. Johnny plays to express something.
Spike plays to prove something.
Creativity is a foreign concept to Magic, in the same sense that creativity has no place in Sudoku. Magic deck selection is a puzzle. There is a solution to the puzzle, i.e. the best deck in the format, just like there is a solution to a sudoku. Creativity only enters the equation when it comes to solving. A creative sudoku player will be more adept at finding quicker ways to solve the puzzle. A creative Magic player will be able to explore more fruitful ideas in his quest to get to the best deck solution. But in the end that deck itself is not a creation, it is a discovery. It existed the moment R&D churned out their finished cards to be printed, waiting to be discovered. It's not created or invented.
The way Johnny tries to be creative is like a sudoku player deliberatly putting in wrong numbers in the grid. They deliberatly set out to choose non-optimal cards and try to find ways to fit them together to build a Rube Goldbergian contraption that will get them a win.
Spike and Timmy can accomodate themselves with each other because they want mostly different things, but Johnny's way of life is in direct contradiction to reality (and Spike's way of life). Spike will pick whatever wins. Johnny will pick what is 'creative'. But since what wins is what's popular, or well known, that means that Johnny has to go on an atavistic quest to build something different from known tier 1 decks. In the days of the Internet and pro players with infinitely more time than the rest of us to try out ideas, the odds of Johnny finding something creative that actually wins approach zero.
Contrast with Timmy. One beef many Timmies, in particular the multiplayer EDH kind, have with Spike is our love for non-interactive strategies (the way I see it, the best deck is whatever lets me win without letting you play... then if that doesn't exist, it's whatever lets me win while letting you play). However there is no irreconciliable dispute between us. WotC has enabled the Timmy lifestyle greatly over the years by making creatures more efficient and otherwise reverting the dominance of strategies that more or less made the combat step obsolete. Spike is easy to please. As long as the format is not excessively luck based, Spike will be happy, even if it means counterspells are 3cc and they need to learn to block and actually attack with creatures.
But Spike and Johnny will never see eye to eye because Johnny is delusional. Johnny thinks he's doing performance art, not playing a game. And that's why Johnny is wrong. Wrong. Wrong.