In February the Central Public Library in collaboration with GNLM, started a Magic: The Gathering Club, were library patrons can learn how to play the game and battle against other players. The club meets every Saturday morning (except Public Holidays) between 10-12 at the Central Public Library in Floriana and is open to anyone aged 10+.

What is Magic: The Gathering?

MTG is a trading card game created by Richard Garfield in 1993. Published by Wizards of the Coast a subsidiary of Hasbro, Magic is the first trading card game to be printed and to this day has more than 25 million players. This includes professional players who compete in Pro Leagues with monetary rewards and casual players who play at a local game store. MTG’s core concepts are pretty simple: You are a powerful wizard called a planeswalker, use land cards to generate mana, use mana to cast spells and summon creatures, then use those to attack and defeat other players. The game is pretty straightforward, however, it can get complex with different levels of difficulty depending on the emergent strategy generated by both these base rules and the over ten thousand unique cards that could potentially make up a deck today.

Why play Magic?

There are many benefits to playing MTG, the foremost being the social, critical and creative thinking, strategy, mathematical, and reading skills associated with playing the game. For this reason a number of educators are using the game as tool to help children develop skills in a non-traditional way. Developing an after school MTG club or a library MTG club is one example (Reinhart, 2010). A few schools have run programs that encourage TCG play to forward social and analytical skills (Lenarcic and Mackay-Scollay, 2005). MTG motivates players to learn and acquire new skills. Malone (1981) identified three aspects of games that make them motivating to players. These are the fantasy, challenge and curiosity elements present through the game of MTG. The learning environment might also provide extrinsic motivation (Chen, Kuo, Chang, and Heh, 2009). Based on Malone’s (1981) model, building a collection, creating competitive decks and participating in the MTG community can each be a motivation to players to improve or learn new skills. MTG allows players to practice or develop cognitive apprenticeship (Brown, Collins, and Duguid, 1989), negotiations and persuasion, cooperation through mutual self-interest, and creative socializing (Turkay, Adinolf, and Tirthali, 2012). Furthermore, the resource management aspect may encourage practice of estimation skills and basic statistics, as well as strategy development and increases metacognitive awareness (Turkay, Adinolf, and Tirthali, 2012).

Magic at the Public Library!

New players can start by joining the club at the Public Library on any given Saturday (Except Public Holidays). New players will be given a free starter deck (60 cards), which will be used to teach them the game. After some practice matches, players are encouraged to play against other players either one on one or in multiplayer matches of up to 4 players.. More cards will be provided for free on a regular basis so players can start building a small collection. The games at the public library are casual and not competitive. This makes it an very relaxed environment for learning and experimenting with new cards and ways to play the game.

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Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.

Chen, P., Kuo, R., Chang, M., & Heh, J. (2009). Designing a trading card game as educational reward system to improve students’ learning motivations. Transactions on Edutainment III, 116-128.

Lenarcic, J. (2005). Trading card games as a social learning tool. Australian Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society, 3(2), 58-70.

Malone, T. W. (1981). Toward a theory of intrinsically motivating instruction. Cognitive Science, 5(4), 333-369.

Reinhart. (2010). Middle school teacher wields magic in the classroom. Retrieved from

Turkay, S., Adinolf, S., & Tirthali, D. (2012). Collectible card games as learning tools. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 3701-3705.


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