There is a lot of information about Magic the Gathering and much of it exists (or existed) on the internet. From the earliest writings on The Dojo to the modern incarnation of Star City Games, people write a ton about Magic. In addition to tournament reports, deck techs, game theory, and other commentary there are deck lists, tournament results, product information, and even more pieces of data out there spread across the vast network of machines forming the web. Magic is already over 20 years old and the wealth of information about the game grows every day. How can the community ever hope to keep up with it all?

A Digital Archive

When I first learned about the existence and goals of and I immediately thought about Magic the Gathering. The purpose of the Internet Archive is to maintain a repository of what the web used to look like. This is increasingly important as people are using the internet for research on a daily basis. Journals and papers are continually siting websites as are Wikipedia entries. If those websites disappear or get overwritten, then valuable educational information is being lost. The Internet Archive is attempting to keep that from happening.

The archive is located in San Francisco and includes text, audio, moving images, software, and archived web pages. Want to play The Oregon Trail Deluxe? Want to listen to over 9,000 Grateful Dead songs? How about browsing 36,000 free books? Don’t worry, I’ll wait while you go do that for the next few hours. Done with that? Now you can waste more time exploring 17,000 video files ranging from home movies to feature films. And last but not least, over 450 billion archived web sites. I hope you didn’t have too much else to do today.

Naturally though, I started searching for cool things from the history of our beloved Magic the Gathering and found a few gems:

Oh man, nostalgia is a lot of fun. I could spend hours clicking through random links and find random junk in the archive about Magic the Gathering. You know what I can’t do though? I can’t search any of it the way I can search Google. What if I want to read all of the articles Luis Scott-Vargas has written across various websites? What if I want to see every tournament report from Legacy Grand Prix events? What if I want to see every deck list that made top-8 of a Pro Tour while running Dark Ritual? These are things I cannot do because the archive isn’t indexed.

This information exists. And the information can be stored. But it can’t be accessed in a meaningful way.

Fortunately the fine folks at the Internet Archive are aware of this issue and have begun trying to mitigate it. Their solution is a tool called Archive It. This tool allows curators and organizations to create archives with focused topics. For example an archive about the Rio Grande Watershed curated by the University of Texas, or an International Whistleblower Archive, or an Archive of Fullbright Alumni and Scholars. There are also many archives about games but the majority of them seem to be high school projects. Not one archive is about Magic the Gathering.

Should there be an archive about Magic the Gathering? It is arguable that Magic is one of the most influential games of the modern age, certainly of the digital age (since the creation of the world wide web in the early 90s). With tens of millions of players and tens of thousands of cards to go with a Pro Tour and various amateur circuits, it’s easy to see the incredible depth and breadth of Magic’s reach. How many websites are devoted to Magic? Blogs? Twitter feeds? Facebook pages? How many store websites? How many tournament result sites? Deck list sites? Secondary market sites? It’s a very large number.

I think the answer to this question is a resounding yes. There are simply too many questions out there that the community has where the answer exists but is too difficult to find. This is partly why I created Wizards has information online about how to qualify for the Pro Tour but it’s confusing and difficult to locate. The same is true for so many other websites in the community and so many other pieces of information.

I’ve already begun putting together plans to start considering what an archive of Magic information would even look like but I want to hear from the community so leave your comments below and I’ll be looking forward to reading them.

The Quick Hits

  • Mark Rosewater discusses the changes he would consider if he could influence Richard Garfield’s original design of Magic [Making Magic]
  • TCGPlayer introduces their 15-member team for Pro Tour Fate Reforged which includes 14 white guys and one Asian guy. This is a diverse game [TCGPlayer]
  • Christopher Dansereau is bitter about the Birthing Pod ban to the point of hilarity. It’s possibly because he paid a butt-ton for Noble Hierarchs [Pure MTGO]
  • Danny Brown suggests cutting down the size of your Magic collection. I actually recently got rid of all my cards except my Legacy Dredge deck so I agree completely [Quiet Speculation]
  • Mike Linnemann takes a look at one of the main influences of Magic landscape artwork [Gathering Magic]
  • If you haven’t read last week’s story about Alesha, the historic bad-ass Khan of the Mardu, go read it now [Uncharted Realms]
  • Artist Scott Murphy talks about how he went about creating the art for Dark Deal [Original Magic Art]
  • Natasha Lewis Harrington digs deep into the psychological factors to consider when teaching Magic to someone new [Gathering Magic]
  • Jason Alt breaks down why the revelations about Alesha are important (go read that article if you haven’t already) [Quiet Speculation]

Wallpaper of the Week

Alesha is the first canonical transgender character in the history of Magic: the Gathering. And she’s a bad-ass. ‘Nuff said.

Grade: A+

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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