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Articles Versus Videos

February 29, 2012

Looking at streams and videos for Magic content is a much appriciated commodity these days but that form of content has not been around for so long one might think.

For the longest time in Magic’s history, content about the game were almost exclusively in written form besides the webcasts from Pro Tour Top8s. Everything from tournament reports to set review to deck techs to draft walkthroughs to strategy/theory about the game were in written form on sites like the Dojo, Brainburst (which eventually became TCGPlayer) or Star City Games.

It was first with the inception of The Magic Show in late 2006 and more so the foundation of Channelfireball.com during 2009 that really took the video format to the levels of every day use when it comes to using it for Magic related content. The concept of live streaming Magic content is even younger. I can’t even remember anyone who was streaming Magic 6 months ago.

Now with videos and streams picking up more and more speed and becoming a stable service that the sites like Star City Games and Channel Fireball provides, it raises the question: are the video format poised to eventually replace the “oldschool” written format altogether some day?

If we look around us on how the evolution of technology has shaped our environment in other areas, one would assume so. For example, how we listen to music has greatly changed during the decades. From vinyl records to cassettes to cds to the digital format and so on. But that line of reasoning assumes that the new technology is more or less strictly better than the previous one in order to be replaced on such a grand scale. Is the video format strictly better than a written article when it comes to Magic?

In my opinion, no.

Now, don’t get me wrong, videos are great. There are stuff you simply can’t do or are hard to make the audience understand with just writing. Particularly in the department of drafting or explaining how to play a given Constructed deck, videos are in general a much more powerful medium to use than the written word. In general, just being able to look and/or hearing someone using their own words explain something to you have proven to be more effective for learning purposes. It can also be a lot more entertaining at times.

There are things that speaks for the written word however, and the main thing for me is the simplicity. If you want your audience to know that cards a, b and c are good to be playing right now while you should stay away from x, y and z, you don’t need to go through the process of making a video to do that. Sure, it’s flashy but how much to the video format really contribute to your cause in the scenario above? Remember, less is more.

There is also a time factor involved for me. Even though I find it in general very learning and entertaining to watch someone do a draft walkthrough on Magic Online, it take a lot of time to watch it through. I don’t always find myself with the time to check out every video I would like to watch, but I feel like I always have the time to indulge an article I want to read.

To wrap it up, I don’t think written articles are leaving any time soon, if ever. There are elements to the written word that I think have a timeless appeal to it. I think the environment will continue to flourish for the video format but I think there is an symbiosis between the two, that will ensure that our thirst for knowledge about the game we love will continuously be pleased.

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