Wizards of the Coast has announced big changes coming to the community of Magic: The Gathering judges. Starting this fall, what we currently know as the Magic Judge program will organize its leadership, level structure, educational program, and promotional distribution through a new independent organization known as the Judge Academy, owned by Tim Shields of Cascade Games, as of the start of October 2019.
Nicolette Apraez, the Program Manager of Judge Academy, talked about the mission of the new organization on a post today:
"Well for starters, our mission is to train and certify quality event staff for any company that utilizes organized play, in order to create an inclusive community of recognized tournament experts who lead welcoming, fun, and fair events. We want to continue to foster a community that lets you contribute to it in whatever way makes the most sense for you. Whether that's building your local community, working events, working on projects, or any combination of the three. We also want to make sure you can get what you want out of the program. We see Judge Certifications as professional certifications, just like programming certifications or the CPA Society does. (That's the Certified Public Accountant Society in the US for those that are not familiar with it.) That means that if you want to judge as a hobby, we will provide online learning, access to event information, forums, and a community with which to connect. However, if you want to make a career out of judging, we will also provide you with an avenue to do so. Starting with Magic and expanding outward, we will work to set up official certifications for multiple games, helping to create multiple revenue streams for those who want to judge Magic and/or other games full time, while bringing the professionalism, logistic skills, and customer service that Magic Judges are known for to the rest of the gaming industry."
"This new organization offers an opportunity to bring clear leadership and direction for Magic Judges, and Wizards is committed to supporting its success as the community continues to grow," Sara Mox, Wizards of the Coast Community Manager for the Judge Network said. "Wizards will continue using certified judges for our competitive gaming events, and we will continue to print judge promos, which will be distributed through Judge Academy going forward."
The Magic Judges blog shared a list of things they know about the Judge Academy so far:
> Contracted roles (Program Coordinators, Regional Coordinators etc) will end on October 1st; many of their tasks will be taken over by employees or contractors of the new organization.
> The organization will have a board of advisors comprised of Judges.
> Wizards will continue to produce Judge Promos but methods of distribution will change.
> The new organization will have a membership fee.
> Conferences already scheduled prior to this announcement will still be Promo supported outside of Judge Academy through the end of the year.
> Shirts and other Judge related merchandise will be available.
> JudgeApps, Judge Blogs, and related sites will still be available. JudgeApps will be focused on community functions and event communication. Judge Academy will start developing other resources, such as for certification.
Magic: The Gathering is going through a lot of big changes this year with Magic Arena, Magic Pro League, Mythic Championships, MTG products, and now, the Magic Judge community. While some fans are welcoming the changes, others are criticizing them but it looks like this change will give Magic judges more opportunities to earn as a judge, not just for Magic but also for other tabletop games.
What do you think about the new Judge Academy? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.