MtG Anthropology
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Adrienne Reynolds
Anthropology Undergraduate Major
Bryn Mawr

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MtG Anthropology

The MtG Ethnographic Study being undertaken by Adrienne Reynolds


Preliminary Fieldwork for Senior Thesis

– Magic The Gathering Cultural Actors and Organized Play

Research Question – How do cultural actors with a self-chosen identity based around an activity reciprocally exchange information and values with each other and the corporate organized play entity providing and actively crafting the activity that provides that identity?

I will be exploring the cultural exchanges and paths of knowledge in a constructed play activity culture through an ethnography of Magic the Gathering Players. Magic the Gathering is owned by Wizards of the Coast LLC a Subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc.

The actual number of players in the players in the Organized Play/Wizards Play Network (OP) is now difficult to find and not promoted in press releases, creating an interesting community dynamic where thought leaders create estimates by various means, what is known is that 71 countries that participate in the Magic World Cup and in 2009 Wizards provided a fact sheet estimating “12 million players and fans” (2009) This construction of “players and fans” is the interesting one. Hasbro and Wizards consider the game part of a branded play strategy and are continually crafting experience outside of point of sale interactions. Of those estimated 12 million players in May 2009 in May the highest number of active players in the DCI system at 135,500. ( 2009) This indicates that at that time about 1.16% of identifiable magic players were interacting formal traceable structures of play. In the four years since, numerous changes have been made and growth of the game it is evident but there is no clear logistic cost-effective way for the company to study how non-DCI members are interacting with the branded play experience, the interaction of DCI members with self-identifying Magic players who are not DCI members and how this in turn effects Wizards when they construct the play environment.