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Magic: the Gathering 30

Grimoire of a community

By Tiziano Antognozzi and Sam Gaglio

On the occasion of the 30th birthday of Magic: the Gathering, Lucca Comics & Games pays homage to the collectible card game that in 30 years has revolutionised the world of entertainment Country by Country, starting right from Italy and Lucca. Not only was Italian notoriously the first non-English language in which the game was translated and distributed, but it was in Lucca Games in 1994 that the game was presented in a now historic panel in which Richard Garfield himself was interviewed by Beniamino Sidoti in the presence of Giovanni Ingellis, who passed away 25 years ago. The retrospective exhibition on the game is dedicated to the memory of the father of Stratelibri, which seeks to restore the articulated fabric of stories, communities, humanity and passions that generated this irrepressible phenomenon. (…)

Magic: the Gathering made its debut at Gen Con in August 1993 to huge success. In October of the following year, the first cards translated into Italian were presented to an already bag-hungry public during the second Lucca Games (1994). Magic: L'Adunanza, published by Stratelibri in collaboration with Wizards of the Coast, marked the first step towards the global spread of the nascent gaming phenomenon. The localisation efforts were driven by a great passion for games and a deep-rooted conviction that Magic was no ordinary product. It was special. As Giovanni Ingellis said during the festival that year: 'Italians are a bit sceptical when it comes to games... but with Magic it's different'. Culturally speaking, the Italian public was obviously very familiar with card games. A long history of playing bridge and briscola on hot summer days had created fertile ground for the immediate boom that Magic had in Italy. (…)

As early as 1994, Ingellis understood what a triumph of game design Magic was. The game was so fun, fast-paced and replayable that it created new fans within a single game. On long drives to Wizards of the Coast headquarters in Renton, WA, Ingellis and Negri-Clementi would play Magic. After the operational meetings were over, they would gather in Adkison's basement to play Magic. And on the return flight, more Magic to kill time. Negri-Clementi vividly remembers the challenges against Ingellis, twisting and turning Chaos Orb on the plane's tiny reclining tables. Even when the Stratelibri team wasn't busy translating or promoting Magic, their heads were always there, so they would pick up the cards: "The game was beautiful, it was more than a product, it was special," Luigi still says. Throughout the 1990s, Stratelibri continued to work in tandem with Wizards of the Coast to produce and distribute Magic in the rest of Italy, handling its responsibilities with pride and consideration. That was until 1998, when Giovanni Ingellis left us after a hard battle with leukaemia. His death was deeply felt by all who knew him, in Italy and abroad.

Venue: Piazza del Giglio 3 - Palazzo Arnolfini - Lucca