The Great Designer Search 2: Essay Questions

Posted in NEWS on December 3, 2013

One of my jobs as the Head Designer for Magic is to find new designers. Four years ago when I was offered the opportunity to have the very first design intern, I asked if I was allowed to fill the job any way I saw fit. They said yes. The result was the original Great Designer Search, where I went looking for our design intern among all of you. (Finding designers has historically proven to be very hard to do.)


The winner was Alexis Janson. Second place was Ken Nagle. Third place was Graeme Hopkins. Fourth place (tied with Ryan Sutherland) was Mark Globus. All four of these people received an internship or job directly as a result of their participation in the GDS. All four still work for Wizards of the Coast and all four still participate on Magic design teams.

Graeme Hopkins is currently a Software Developer for Magic Online. He has worked on various design teams, most recently on "Shake" (the fall set of 2011) and "Rattle" (the winter set of 2012). Mark Globus is the Senior Producer for Magic. He led the design for Magic 2012. Ken Nagle is an Advanced Game Designer. Ken led the design for Worldwake, Archenemy, and "Action" (the spring 2011 set) and is currently leading the design for "Hook" (the fall 2012 set). Alexis Janson, the first GDS winner, is a Lead Software Developer for Magic Online, and I'm proud to announce for the very first time that Alexis is currently leading the design for "Sinker" (the spring 2013 set).

Once again, I have a paid design internship to fill (and unlike last time, I only have one slot available). To find our intern, we're going to have Magic's version of Project Runway. Anyone who meets the criteria set out below may enter. To whittle down the thousands of entries to our final eight, we will be having a series of tests, the first of which you will take today. (The link is below, but I'd recommend reading everything before you go there.)

The first test is a ten-question essay test. It will allow us to hear your ideas in your own words. (Each answer has to be between 250 and 350 words.) The second test is a fifty-question multiple-choice test. It will make sure you have a working understanding of current Magic design as well as the underlying lingo and philosophies we use. The third test will ask the remaining applicants to give a brief rundown of a large set for a new block they want to design. This test will also include some card design. We reserve the right for additional tests if more are needed to whittle down the applicants.

This third test is crucial because, as I explained last week, the big twist of GDS2 is that we will have each contestant commit to an original block idea and then all their challenges will be designed to fit within their own world. The second big twist is that this year we are not requiring the applicants to do all their own designing. Much of design is taking other people's ideas and blending them together to create a cohesive whole. To test these skills, we are allowing anyone who wants to submit designs for any of the candidates to use. (Let me stress that the applicants and the applicants alone need to do the work compiling the designs for each challenge.) These designs can be of individual cards, mechanics, or even entire worlds. (Note to candidates: There will be portions of the GDS2 where you will not be able to use outside help. We will clearly spell out when those times are.)

Last week I let you all loose on the Great Designer Search 2 page of the Magic Wiki, and you did not disappoint. If you haven't had a chance to submit your own ideas or comments on those of others, I strongly urge you go give the Magic Wiki a look. I cannot stress enough that the community involvement on the Magic Wiki is essential to the GDS2. The major skill we are testing this time is the ability to judge other's ideas and combine them into a cohesive whole. This skill is a vital one for Magic design.

To remind everyone, anyone may submit anything he or she wishes on the Wiki (provided, of course, he or she agrees to the posting guidelines). Anything posted to the Magic Wiki is fair game for any of the contestants. You may design broad designs for anyone to use or you may design specific designs intended for one of the candidates. The challenges will be posted publicly so that everyone can participate in creating designs.

Once we have our final eight—although note that with as with all parts of the GDS2, we reserve the right to modify things if the need arrives—we will have a series of five challenges, one every other week. A panel of judges will evaluate all the designs and one candidate will be eliminated each time. At the end of the five challenges, three candidates will remain which we will fly out to Renton, Washington for a series of interviews and a final test. The winning candidate will be offered a paid six-month internship during 2011.

Who Is Eligible?

To enter the promotion, all of the following must be true:

  1. You are at least eighteen years of age as of October 6, 2010.
  2. You currently reside in the United States and are legally eligible for long-term work in the U.S for any employer as of October 6, 2010.
  3. You are fluent in English.
  4. You are not now and have never previously been employed fulltime by Wizards of the Coast.
  5. If you qualify for the Final Round, you agree to timely and fully complete and return an application, questionnaire, Consent and Release Agreement, and any other documents designated by Wizards.
  6. You agree to, if you are a finalist, to (A) timely and fully complete and return all documents designated by Wizards and, if you win, and (B) move and live near Wizards' Renton, Washington headquarters, at your own expense, for six months. Currently we believe this will be in early 2011.
  7. You have fully read and agree to The Great Designer Search 2 Official Rules located here.

(All of the above conditions must be true for entrants to be eligible.)

For all the applicants, let me give one piece of advice before you go to the essay test. The goal of this test is to give us a chance to be introduced to you. Please use this test to give us a sense of who you are and how you see Magic. Don't tell us what you think we want to hear. Tell us what you think. The essay test isn't about being right, it's about giving us an insight into who you are. This was true in GDS1 and remains true for GDS2. Please note that this test is for you to give us a chance to hear what you have to say, not for you to simply repeat things we have said.

If you want to enter The Great Designer Search 2, please read the official rules and then click here.

If you want to participate on the Wiki in creating cards and worlds, click here.

If you're still here, I urge you to come back when we begin The Great Designer Search 2 and follow along. There is no greater insight into the design process than this event.

May the best designer win!