Sunday, March 17, 2013

An Open Letter to Matt Sperling

(written in response to Sperling's Sick of It - March 2013)

Dear Matt Sperling,

I've been an avid reader of Channel Fireball for years now. I'm no pro, but I've played a ton of Magic, and I appreciate the informational posts and in-depth strategy discussions, as well as the broad variety of "for-fun" content. The site and its community have enhanced my appreciation for Magic, both on a functional game theory level, and from a humorous, social point of view.

But being an amateur player didn't stop me and two of my best friends from starting a humble stream that we roll out every Friday night on We started because we love playing Magic together every Friday night, and we think we're kinda funny. We came up with what we think is a unique show, and we were surprised to find that we started gaining regular viewers. We're still very small-time; a typical show for us sits at 25-30 viewers for the three or four hours we play. But for us, that's awesome! Having a chance to interact with a couple dozen complete strangers who share our love of Magic and our "for-fun" mentality is part of what makes Twitch such a great service.

And what do those viewers tune in every week to see? Well, our streams run the gamut, from us forcing (and winning an 8-man draft with) a mill deck in M13, to accidentally ghost quartering our own land, to us fighting with each other about stupidly playing a creature before combat (or sometimes stupidly NOT playing a creature before combat). We and our viewers actively review every move, so we've got instant feedback to help average Magic players, such as ourselves, improve. We get better at Magic because we put ourselves on stream, and I like to think that many who watch our stream also get better.

I've read and enjoyed a lot of your articles, but in this instance I think you're off the mark. Magic's growth is dependent on new players embracing the game, and there are already plenty of barriers to entry. To learn the breadth of the game is an incredibly complex undertaking, and not a cheap one either. As a leader in this community, you should be trying to break down barriers for new players, not creating more.

Shame on you for trying to make us and others like us feel bad for enjoying Magic in our own way.

We buy Magic products. We see Magic as an intellectual exercise as well. And we really love the game, not in spite of its complexity, but because of it. We're not virtuosos, and we're okay with that. We're the fish that make the online 8-4s easier to win (especially on Friday nights). We're those early round "byes" in PTQs so the really dedicated and skilled players like yourself can be professionals. We're the ad clicks and page views on Channel Fireball that help keep the lights on.

We're also not going anywhere. We might not be your cup of tea, but there's a home for us on Twitch, just like there's a home for Cedric Phillips (we're big fans), and just like there's a home for shirtless streamers who brew crazy decks (we're also big fans). To us, Magic is about having fun and being social, and we thoroughly enjoy our time streaming.

It may not sound like it, but I'm not mad at you. I just felt that I needed to respond to you directly, because it felt like you were speaking to me and my fellow small-time streamers directly, and I was disappointed in what you had to say. You're an asset to the Magic community, and I enjoy most of your work. I'll continue to frequent Channel Fireball, because I love this game, and I'll continue to read your content, because I enjoy what you write. And if you're ever bored, stop by our stream and say hello. Just like high school football, we'll be there every week, under the Friday night lights.

- James of the Good Point Bros


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