One magical opportunity

Local youth summoned for sneak-peek at potential Magic: the Gathering product Saturday

SARANAC LAKE — A handful of local fans of tabletop and card games will get a peek behind the curtain of the magic of game development on Saturday when they will get a rare first-look at a potential new Magic: the Gathering product and be able to give their feedback to developers of the game.

Researchers from Wizards of the Coast, the makers of Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, are flying into town this week and are looking for kids ages 8 to 18 to test out a product they’re working on at the Saranac Lake Free Library.

Library Director Jake Widrick said there are still spots open for people who want to apply to be part of the focus group.

How did SLFL get picked up as a playtest location for this new potential product? Widrick is wondering that same thing, too.

When the library started up weekly Magic: the Gathering game nights last year, a local told him she had a connection with Wizards of the Coast in Seattle and introduced the two.

WotC has been sending the library “care packages” of cards, binders and deck boxes ever since, he said. A number of months ago, they asked him if people here would be interested in playtesting. They were.

The kids in the weekly game night are excited to have the chance to interact with the designers of the game that they enjoy, he said.

Not much is currently clear about what Wizards of the Coast researchers are seeking feedback on. There is a mystical air of secrecy around the project. All that is said is that it is “a prototype of a potential Magic product.”

Participants will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, to keep details of the potential product confidential.

“No experience with either game is required,” Widrick wrote in an email.

“This is a really cool opportunity for any kid who might be interested in board games, tabletop games, fantasy, sci-fi, anything like that,” Widrick said. “I would encourage anybody who is even remotely interested in those genres to have their parents fill out the survey. … This isn’t the kind of event that comes to a place like Saranac Lake very often.”

Widrick said the SLFL Magic: the Gathering club meets every Friday night between 6 and 8 p.m. It is “a very beginner-friendly event,” he said, where newcomers to the game can learn the basics and use cards supplied by the club.

There are not many places to play around here, he said, so he’s glad to give the club a home. A self-described “fantasy nerd,” he’s a fan of the game himself.

“It’s time away from screens. It’s a very social game,” Widrick said. “Especially for kids, you know. It’s nice to see them away from TVs and devices. It’s a very analytical game.”

He said the game is popular with adults, too.

The researchers plan to hold several sessions on Saturday during a two-hour playtest.

Parents will need to fill out a five-minute survey — one survey for each participant — to be chosen. That survey can be found at https://bit.ly/3MTpAW9.

Wizards of the Coast’s market research firm Insight Space will contact anyone deemed a “good fit” for the study to schedule the playtest time.

Parents or guardians will be required to check-in their children when dropping them off at the library.

Adults will be responsible for picking up their kids at the library after the session.

Widrick said updates on the weekly club meetings are on the SLFL social media pages.


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