On Magic and Models
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“One of the things I love about Magic the Gathering is its modularity.”
“What do you mean?”
“The best analogy is with Lego. You have a number of colorful interlocking pieces which can be connected in countless ways to create objects.
In the same way, in Magic you have a (huge) number of colorful interlocking cards (representing spells) which can be connected in countless ways to create experiences.
The magic of the game (pun intended) lies in the interaction between the cards, and the joy of playing the game (partly) comes from the discovery of connections between the cards, especially when not immediately obvious (or intended).”
“It seems there’s joy even in not playing the game.”
“Oh, yes. Joy in the exploration of its design. A meta-game.
As you know, to play the game, you select a number of cards, within certain constraints, and form a deck. The better the cards making up the deck work together, the better the deck.
Some cards work well on their own.
Some cards work better in combination with others.
Some cards work only in combination with others.
The extent to which two or more cards work together is called synergy. The most powerful synergy is called a combo.
I like to distinguish between two kinds of synergy:
– micro-synergy: synergy at the level of the individual cards.
– macro-synergy: synergy at the level of the deck.
In essence, synergy is a kind of emergence. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
By extension, we can think of micro- and macro-emergence.”
“I see some beautiful emergent possibilities from the concept of emergence.”
“Now that I think of it, creativity itself is emergence.
The essence of creativity lies in making connections. In making connections, you’re essentially creating an emergent higher-order level of meaning.”