November 1, 2004
Excerpts: The Medici Effect - Part II
Chapter Five - Randomly Combine Concepts: Card Games and Sky RisesIn the spring of 1991, a young Ph.D. math student named Richard Garfield met with Peter Adkison, the president of a small game company called Wizards of the Coast. Garfield had designed a board game called RoboRally and he was pitching the idea to Adkison. But Adkison did not bite. Come back with something less complicated, he told the mathematician. He suggested that Garfield design a game that was quick to play, portable, and inexpensive to produce. What Garfield came up with revolutionized the world of games. He created Magic: The Gathering, a card game unlike any other. During the second half of 1993, following the release of Magic, Wizards of the Coast made about $200,000, which isnt bad for a seven-person startup. The following year, however, that same small company made $40 million, and in 1995, Wizards of the Coast sold over 500million cards. Magic had launched a gaming epidemic. Ten years later there were more than 6million Magic players in more than fifty countries and over 100,000 professionally sanctioned tournaments around the world each year. In fact, Magic created an entire genre of games. When Wizards of the Coast launched the Pokemon card game in the United States, its addictiveness among kids all over the world prompted religious groups to denounce it. Wizards of the Coasts success soared. Magic, and the industry it spawned, had become part of our culture. How did Richard Garfield create such an incredible game? And how did he get from RoboRally, an idea that led absolutely nowhere, to Magic, one that made him a legend almost overnight? In order to unravel these mysteries, we have to understand what occurs after the breakdown of associative barriers. We must understand what actually happens at the Intersection. Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business School Press. Excerpted from The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson. Copyright 2004 by Frans Johansson. All rights reserved.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.