When I’m not playing Magic or other games, I work my “day job” as an attorney. I’m not the traditional kind of lawyer, though. I don’t go to trials, I rarely have clients, and very little of my work involves arguing. Most of my time is spent training people on how to do their jobs better and how to follow complicated employment laws. I tend to think of my role as a teacher for adults more than a practicing attorney. Ultimately, I’d like to be a consultant and show organizations how they can operate more effectively (think – the Bobs from the movie “Office Space” – but more law-related).
There’s a point here, and it’s not about telling you my career goals. I’m constantly looking for ways to increase my skills and knowledge (which EVERYONE should always be striving to do), and I’ve found tons of inspiring podcasts. One set of offerings are the TED Talks, a collection (or really, a Movement) of inspiring speeches and presentations on hundreds of topics. There are TED Talks arguing for certain types of fish to be eaten, talks on the effects of body language in dating, political talks, talks on business planning, science, art, sports, and on and on and on. They’re really neat and worth checking out, no matter what you’re into.
The TED Talks are awesome, but what if I told you there was a series of similar conversations specifically related to Magic: the Gathering? That’s what Mark Rosewater (Magic’s Head Designer) does with his “Drive to Work” podcast.(In fact, that’s exactly what Mark pointed out back in Episode 95 about player’s emotional connections to games)
Each week he uploads two new episodes all about about how Magic gets made. There are episodes on how certain sets were created, including the thought-processes behind the design of individual cards. There are mini-series about the color pie (each color and all the color pairs), a year-by-year Magic history, and each of the Magic card types. One week you might listen to behind-the-scenes info about Onslaught’s design, and the next week hear Mark discuss how the Tribal card type broke Magic.
But the episodes that resonate most with me are the ones about Mark’s philosophies for game design. These conversations revolve around the mechanics and structure that good games possess. I find that these talks have relevance well beyond being just some simple tips for creating card and board games. For example, his mini-series, “10 Things Every Game Needs”, has an episode dedicated to the importance of a game’s rules being intuitive, so players can easily learn how to play. Another podcast in the series is about a game’s need for theme and flavor, so that players will want to play it.
These topics appeal to the corporate training world too. The talk about intuitive game rules speaks on adult learning theory and the transfer of knowledge (how we get you to remember what we taught you), issues that trainers struggle with in making make sure our training programs actually teach something. The episode on theme and flavor is essentially a discussion on how to design engaging and fun training sessions, masked as a tenet of board game development.
“Drive to Work” is more than just a podcast about Magic. It has real applications to our lives outside the game. Whether you’re working the line at Taco Bell, a first-grade teacher, a business executive, or unemployed (and everything in between), there are episodes that will appeal to your skills and aspirations. For example, the episode on Magic and Social Media is about how Wizards manages the game’s social media – the information shared on the podcast directly applies to our personal use of Facebook and Twitter.
Need more convincing? Start with Episode 291 – “Live Life as a Gamer” – it’s all about the life skills we acquire from playing games.
I highly recommend listening to the “Drive to Work” podcast, regardless of what you do when you’re not playing Magic. Yes, I can’t go to work every day and reference how Wizards of the Coast designed Khans of Tarkir in a training session. But I can take the underlying values and knowledge Mark shares in each episode about Magic and game design, and use them to do better work – at a job that has nothing to do with games.
The “Drive to Work” podcast can be found on iTunes. You can also find transcripts of each episode at http://dtwtranscripts.blogspot.com.