Fans of Magic: The Gathering, a card-based strategy game that turns 10 years old this month, say it rivals the intellectual challenge of chess. Parents initially cried "witch", but most magic-is-Satan flack these days is focused on a boy wizard of about 15:
The imagery on the cards, which ranges from an abstract symbol for a pentagram to goblins and a giant cockroach, has been denounced as glorifying the occult. Schools have banned the game either because of the controversy or the distraction it created among students.
Magic still makes occasional news because of controversy, but it has become steadily more mainstream. The game comes in nine languages; [Wizards of the Coast] estimates there are more than 6 million players worldwide. Its success paved the way for the Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! card games that became national obsessions among children.
One 20-year-old fan has won close to $140,000 playing "professionally" at Magic tournaments. "It's a bit of stigma -- maybe not so much anymore," he said before heading for the world championship in Berlin earlier this month. "Girls don't like it much, but whatever. Who needs them?"