Presumably you’re here for the magic talk, so bringing in computer games might seem odd. Hear me out, this is going somewhere, specifically when it comes to how we develop as artists.
If you already know Starcraft 2, here’s the video in question.
If you don’t know anything about Starcraft 2, let’s set this up. Starcraft 2 is a computer game where players can play against other players online, and if you watch the video you’ll get an immediate sense of what sort of game it is. There’s a competitive ranking system, and the very best players can actually earn some cash doing this at the professional level.
“Winter” is a young (mid-20s) Starcraft streamer, meaning that he plays games online and people watch him. Some players can do this professionally as well, although the requirements are often a bit different from being a pro player, since people not only want to watch you win, they want you to do it with style. It helps that in addition to being really good at the game, Winter is also funny, and he’s good at making sure that there’s a variety of content on his channel. He’s also a workhorse. His recent Twitch videos-on-demand show him streaming anywhere from 6 to 11 hours per day.
While this is really impressive, this might not seem like a huge deal to younger folks reading this. If you need some context, me and a lot of the guys I know in magic might remember that old Far Side cartoon called “Hopefully Parents” (google image search results here, for the lazy). Long story short, this was funny once upon a time.
Anyhow, where am I going with this? Well, believe it or not, a huge appeal to Winter’s channel is the fact that you can learn how to play the game better. And, in this particular video, Winter himself is getting taught by a professional coach. Again, yeah, there are some guys who can make a decent leaving teaching others how to play computer games better. Surprise.
The key thing is to see what it looks like to have one master coach another. We do not see enough of this in magic. Back when I was writing ye olde magick blogge, I did what I could to try to send traffic Tyler Erickson’s way, and the fact that I don’t see Tyler driving a BMW on his facebook page can mean only one of two things — either I wasn’t successful enough in that endeavour, or Tyler really needs to get rid of his current car. That’s not to say he’s doing poorly, as I’ve visited him on more than one occasion and the guy’s doing great, but rather… we live in a world where young folks, most of whom don’t really aspire to or have any expectation of being a pro-gamer, value the process of learning how to do what they love better, and they value that more than magicians do.
And it’s really eye-opening. “Pig”, the guy coaching Winter in the video, is providing a lot of information to Winter, which is pretty cool considering that Winter already provides a ton of information when he’s doing his own coaching sessions for regular folks. I’ve been lucky enough to see what this level of coaching is like from my time with Tyler, and it sucks to know that when these opportunities are out there (from Tyler or others), too many magicians still default to trying to get their information online, where you’re guaranteed to get some terribly overused aphorisms (“It’s all in the presentation!” “You’ve got to do what’s right for you!” “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it!”) masquerading as helpful advice.
Watch this video and listen to the level of tutelage being offered, and ask yourself which you’d prefer — somebody giving you extremely-detailed, highly-personalized advice, or some guy you don’t know online just parroting whatever he can remember from an L&L DVD. That’s not to knock L&L or anything, but rather to knock people who think that L&L products (or similar) represent the end of the learning process. It ought to be the absolute beginning.
I’ll throw this link up to Tyler’s page, but obviously you have to take that with a heavy dose of salt because he was the guy who coached me. It’s also not to hype up the nu blogge as offering something similar, since the stuff I’m interested in is primarily entry-level content for magicians who maybe know a few tricks or have a couple of Dover books, and have no idea where to go beyond that. Mostly, this isn’t about trying to advertise for anybody, but rather to show the degree to which other disciplines, even “lowly” ones like playing video games, offer knowledge to eager prospective students, and the degree to which those students value that information, and to ask why this isn’t a thing with us. And before somebody who’s done a few shows or been to a few magic club meetings protests that question… watch that initial video, and ask if you see that level of training offered at your average, or even above-average, magic lectures.
Be honest, scrub. You know you don’t.