Last week, at the end of her column, my colleague Jess remarked about her joy to see another female voice being given a role on a Magic design team. In this case it was Jennifer Clarke Wilkes who served as the creative team’s representation on the design team for Fate Reforged. However, I lamented to the rest of the writing staff that Wilkes is one of but three women to have such a role since Innistrad. The other two are Jenna Helland and Alexis Janson. Later in the week, Intel announced that they would be devoted a massive amount of funding in the pursuit of improving the representation in their employee pool. Should Wizards of the Coast follow suit?

Women and Minorities in Wizards R&D

There’s a good chance that most people stopped reading as soon as they got to the headline. If you made it this far, congratulations, you’re willing to at least listen to what I have to say about the representation of gender and racial minorities among the designers and developers of the game we all love so dearly. Gaming communities, in general, have been very inhospitable towards women and minorities. Many factors play into this, but that’s not what I want to discuss today. What I want to look at is the problem as it pertains to the design of Magic, and how Wizards can follow Intel’s lead and become part of the solution.

The Men and Women of Wizards R&D

Let’s travel back in time to the beginning of the Fifth Stage of Magic design. This is the modern era and it began with Scars of Mirrodin. Ideas like the New World Order and the upcoming two-block paradigm all have their genesis in this period of Magic’s history. Beginning with Scars of Mirrodin and working our way through to the present and future of Dragons of Tarkir, exactly who has been designing and developing sets of Magic cards?

Below is a list of every designer and developer from Scars of Mirrodin through Dragons of Tarkir. Any expansion abbreviation that is italicized identifies a member of R&D who both designed and developed the same set. Any expansion abbreviation in bold identifies the lead designer or developer.


  • Aaron Forsythe (M12, M13, DGM, M15)
  • Adam Lee (M14, KTK)
  • Alexis Janson (SOM, RTR, DGM)
  • Bill Rose (AVR)
  • Billy Moreno (BNG, KTK)
  • Brian Tinsman (AVR)
  • Colin Kawakami (DTK)
  • Dan Emmons (DGM, JOU, DTK)
  • Dave Guskin (NPH, AVR)
  • David Humphreys (GTC, FRF)
  • Doug Beyer (M12, M13)
  • Erik Lauer (SOM, DGMJOU)
  • Ethan Fleischer (GTC, THS, BNG, JOU, FRF)
  • Gavin Verhey (FRF)
  • Graeme Hopkins (INN, DKA, M13, DTK)
  • Gregory Marques (MBS)
  • Jenna Helland (INN, DKA, THS, M15)
  • Jennifer Clarke Wilkes (FRF)
  • Joe Huber (NPH, GTC)
  • Ken Nagle (MBS, NPH, M12, AVR, RTR, THS, BNG, KTK, FRF)
  • Ken Troop (RTR, M14)
  • Mark Globus (SOM, M12M14)
  • Mark Gottlieb (SOM, MBS, AVR, GTC, KTK, DTK)
  • Mark Purvis (M13)
  • Matt Place (SOM, NPH)
  • Matt Tabak (DKA, JOU)
  • Max McCall (M15)
  • Mike Gills (M15)
  • Mike Turian (MBS)
  • Nate Heiss (SOM)
  • Richard Garfield (INN)
  • Ryan Miller (M13)
  • Ryan Spain (BNG)
  • Sam Stoddard (DTK)
  • Shawn Main (GTC, DGM, M14, M15KTK)
  • Tom LaPille (INN, M14)
  • Zac Hill (DKARTRTHS, KTK)


  • Aaron Forsythe (SOM, NPH, M14)
  • Adam Lee (INN, RTR, M15)
  • Adam Prosak (KTK)
  • Ben Hayes (FRF)
  • Billy Moreno (AVR, RTR, BNGM15)
  • Chris Dupuis (BNG)
  • Colin Kawakami (DTK)
  • Dave Guskin (NPHAVRM14)
  • David Humphreys (M12, INN, DKA, AVR, RTR, GTC, THS, BNG, JOU, KTK, FRFDTK)
  • Doug Beyer (THS, KTK)
  • Ethan Fleischer (M13)
  • Gavin Verhey (GTC)
  • Gerry Thompson (DTK)
  • Ian Duke (JOU, FRF)
  • James Hata (M14)
  • Kelly Digges (M12, M14)
  • Ken Nagle (INN, JOU, DTK)
  • Ken Troop (DKA)
  • Mark Globus (GTC, DGM)
  • Mark Gottlieb (INN, DKA, AVR, M13, DGM, BNG, FRF)
  • Mark Purvis (SOM, GTC)
  • Masami Ibamoto (DGM)
  • Matt Place (SOM)
  • Matt Sernett (AVR)
  • Matt Tabak (M14, BNG, KTK, FRF, DTK)
  • Max McCall (M13, GTC, M14)
  • Mike Turian (SOMMBS, M12)
  • Peter Schaefer (M12)
  • Ryan Dhuse (MBS)
  • Ryan Miller (M13)
  • Ryan Spain (FRF)
  • Sam Stoddard (DGM, M15, DTK)
  • Shawn Main (RTR, THS, M15KTK)
  • Steve Warner (M12)
  • Tim Aten (DTK)
  • Tom LaPille (MBS, NPH, M12INNDKA, M13, RTR, THS, BNG, M15, KTK, DTK)
  • Tom Jenkot (JOU)
  • Zac Hill (MBS, NPH, DKA, M13RTR, GTC, DGM, M14, THS)

That is a total of 77 role assignments including 38 different designers and 39 different developers. A total of 24 of those people have served in both roles which means that since Scars of Mirrodin, 53 different people have acted as the designer or developer of a Standard Magic expansion. Three of them have been women.

That’s three. Out of fifty-three. Less than 6%.

Do you ever wonder why there are so few women who play Magic the Gathering? I’m not saying it’s because only 6% of the game’s designers are female, but the correlation is definitely related to the resultant effect.

The Boys Club

Gaming is a boys club and that is evidenced by the two lists above. If you’ve kept up with Mark Rosewater’s weekly blog, Making Magic, then you know that the head designer gets to choose the team for each set design. Part of this team is the “fifth slot” which is pulled from the entirety of Wizards in order to include diverse voices. For example, during Return to Ravnica, this role went to Ken Troop who was in charge of the R&D Digital Team at the time. That’s right, there is literally a position on every design team which is meant to broaden the team’s diversity and it has literally never been used to put a woman on a design team.

I actually just had to stop and step away from writing this column after re-reading that paragraph.

So what gives? The common response would be that there aren’t any women interested in designing or developing Magic, and therefore there’s just no one to pick from. A more biased response would be that Wizards picks the “best of the best” to work on Magic, and that there simply aren’t any women who qualify. Both of these are complete and utter bullshit.

Making Progress

A few months ago a movement known as Gamergate began, under the guise of upholding ethics in gaming journalism. The real purpose of this movement was to inhibit the progress being made by women in the gaming industry, progress that has only just begun at Wizards of the Coast. The community stands at a crossroads whereby the people who would give you the responses about female disinterest in gaming, or lack of qualification, are looking to ensure that the boys club remains an exclusive one. At the other end of the intersection are the people working to make changes and improve the gaming community for everyone.

Wizards, to their credit, has been making progress. There are more female characters front-and-center in Magic’s story than ever before. More women are given important roles in some parts of the corporate structure. Magic has even pushed the gender bounds further than most games by introducing Ashiok, a planeswalker who has no gender identity. Yet, looking at all of these improvements it’s hard not to recognize that they’re mostly isolated to the creative team, and a few executive positions not related to the actual creation of the game. I don’t want to trivialize the role of women like Helene Bergeot and Elaine Chase, who respectively run Organized Play and Brand Management, but they do not design or develop Magic.

Intel’s Announcement

One of the earliest victims of Gamergate’s infantile attempt to stifle the progress of women in gaming was massive electronics company Intel. A few loud voices convinced the giant corporation to pull its advertising from a website called Gamasutra which had been supporting improvements to diversity in the gaming industry. The fine folks at Gamergate managed to make it look like the media website was in fact just doing favors for several women, and implying that the nature of those favors was not entirely savory. Intel bought this bullshit and pulled their advertising. However, they soon saw the error of their ways.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich pledged that Intel would put $300m to encourage diversity in the technology sector. After being duped by Gamergate, Intel realized that their own diversity was sorely lacking. Intel’s gender balance currently sits at 76/24 in favor of men, and their ethnic break-down consists of 57% of their employee pool being white. Krzanich realized that this is not acceptable and that Intel must lead the way in improving the tech sector. This is a direct response to Gamergate’s meddling in Intel’s business.

What Next?

It’s time for Wizards of the Coast to step up and improve the diversity of their design and development teams. Women remain a painfully apparent absence from Magic: the Gathering at virtually every level. Players. Judges. Pro Players. Tournament Grinders. Store Owners. Tournament Organizers, Designers, Developers. Every single level of the game reflects the 6% of design and development teams made up by women. Change has to come from all places including the very top. Let’s hope 2015 is the year that Wizards comes to the same realization as Intel and change can start to come to our community.

The Quick Hits

  • Conley Woods shares his Magic resolutions for 2015 with us [Breaking Through]
  • Luis Scott-Vargas has been announced as the new co-host for Limited Resources which is pretty good news for just about everybody [Quiet Speculation]
  • Jared Yost breaks down the biggest winners and losers, financially, from 2014 [MTG Price]
  • Mark Rosewater breaks down the design of Tarkir block including how the new mechanics came to be and how they picked the mechanics for Fate Reforged [Making Magic]
  • Josh Claytor airs his laundry list of grievances with respect to Magic Online [LegitMTG]
  • Corbin Hosler has some advice to share for Magic based on his experiences with Hearthstone [Empeopled]
  • Hallie Santo also has some advice about how best to prepare yourself for nine rounds of Magic [Gathering Magic]
  • Brian Kibler likes stuff and he wants you to know what stuff he likes [BMK Gaming]
  • John Dale Beety recaps the events of The Mending, a multiverse-changing event which could have an impact on the Tarkir story [Star City Games]
  • Speaking of the Tarkir, check out the Planeswalker’s guide to the past of our current story setting [Daily MTG]
  • Caleb Durward was disqualified in the final swiss round of a PPTQ in Ohio. Read his story so you can learn the proper way to avoid the same fate [Legacy Weapon]
  • Blake Rasmussen shares the shifting scenes of time travel through the art of Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged [Magic Arcana]
  • Nick Miller profiles Star City Games Player’s Champion Brad Nelson [Star City Games]
  • Brian David-Marshall meanwhile has the scoop on Chris Pikula’s journey to return to the Pro Tour [The Week That Was]

Wallpaper of the Week

Ah, the climactic battle between the Spirit Dragon and the Elder Dragon Legend. This is, presumably, the battle that long ago decided the fate of Tarkir. In the timeline of Khans of Tarkir, Nicol Bolas defeated Ugin, damning all of the other dragons on Sarkhan Vol’s home plane. Now, that Sarkhan has traveled back to this pivotal moment, depicted in the cataclysmic artwork for Crux of Fate, he can help change the outcome. Presumably in the new timeline Nicol Bolas will fail to kill Ugin, resulting in the alternate timeline of Dragons of Tarkir.

Grade: B+

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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