In the wake of global unrest after the police killing of George Floyd, figures and companies across the entertainment industry have taken measures to support anti-racist movements like Black Lives Matter or enact their ideals in their own workplaces. Large media companies have made $100M donations and pledged new hiring practices, while gaming companies have doubled down on resources dedicated to banning racist behavior in their games. But what if the game itself includes racism in its legacy?
Magic: The Gathering has been around since 1993 and in that time has evolved plenty, but — as part of the game — even its earliest cards still maintain some relevance. Now the game is taking steps to clean house.
Wizards of the Coast announced that the company would be banning seven MtG cards with images that are "racist or culturally offensive." The cards — Invoke Prejudice, Cleanse, Stone-Throwing Devils, Pradesh Gypsies, Jihad, Imprison, and Crusade — will not only be banned from any tournament play sanctioned by the company, they will have their images removed from the MtG database. These images will be replaced with the following statement:
"We have removed this card image from our database due to its racist depiction, text, or combination thereof. Racism in any form is unacceptable and has no place in our games, nor anywhere else."
Invoke Prejudice was singled out for having racist artwork (featuring Klan-esque hooded figures, one of which wields an axe) and a database listing number that has importance to white supremacists. "The card is racist and made even worse by the multiverse ID it was unfortunately codified with years ago," Wizards' statement reads. "There's no place for racism in our game, nor anywhere else."
Invoke Prejudice's database ID has since been changed.
Wizards also posted that the card "should never have been published nor placed in the Gatherer. And for that we are sorry. The events of the past weeks and the ongoing conversation about how we can better support people of color have caused us to examine ourselves, our actions, and our inactions. We appreciate everyone helping us to recognize when we fall short. We should have been better, we can be better, and we will be better."
Wizards of the Coast concluded its statement by recognizing that banning the handful of cards was only a first step. "There's much more work to be done as we continue to make our games, communities, and company more inclusive," it reads. "Know that we work every day to be better and that we hear you. We look forward to sharing more of our plans with you as our games and organization evolve."