‘Magic: The Gathering’ Head Designer Says Wizards Of The Coast Avoiding The Term “Witch” Because It’s A “Real World Religious Identifier”, Considering “Retiring Druid And Shaman” For Same Reason
In continuing their campaign to make their once-beloved tabletop offerings as inclusive and ‘unoffensive’ as possible, Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater has revealed that not only has Wizards of the Coast begun avoiding the term ‘witch’ because it’s a “real world religious identifier”, but the company is also looking to retire the “druid and shaman” character types for the same reason.
Rosewater, who has served in his current position since 2003, confirmed Wizard of the Coast’s new approach to such terms while speaking with fans on his personal Tumblr blog.
Asked on September 28th by fellow Tumblr user @fallapede, “Why isn’t Witch a type? It seems like it has a much stronger identity than Warlock,” Rosewater asserted, “Witch is a real world religious identifier, so we chose to avoid it.”
Following-up on the designer’s answer, another player, @a-goat-chariot-rider, further pressed, “if ‘witch’ is excluded bc of its significance as a real world religious identifier, why are ‘shaman’ and ‘druid’ creature types?”
To this inquiry, Rosewater revealed that “We are currently examining that exact topic.”
In turn, @delicateturtleangel asked if Wizards of the Coast was “considering retiring Druid and Shaman or bringing Witch to the table?”, the designer explicitly confirmed, “The former.”
Answering one final question on the topic, Rosewater met @melymoth’s question of “is there a particular reason it is more acceptable in card names than as a creature type?” with the answer, “Creature types are used for vocabulary for how people group cards together in a way card titles aren’t.”
“For example, Priest has existed in card names since the early days of Magic, but no one is building a Priest deck,” he ultimately affirmed. “Our issue is people using vocabulary as game terms in a way where it takes meaning beyond just identifying a particular card.
The next day, Rosewater would further note that despite both terms being placed under consideration for removal for the game, the addressing of one was considered by Wizards of the Coast to be more pressing than the other.
Receiving a message from @andymontalbon in which they implored, “Please don’t phase out druids, I’ve always enjoyed seeing local Celtic culture/history represented and unlike witches they’re not a sinister depiction. If Magic can handle exaggerated fantasy clerics, angels and demons I think we deserve druids alongside them, Christian symbols have already crowded out pagan alternatives in too many places,” the designer admitted, “Druid is far less of an issue than Shaman.”
As noted above, this instance of self-censorship is but the latest instance of Wizards of the Coast taking a more ‘safe’ approach to their content.
Previously, the tabletop publisher has both removed a history of enslavement from the lore of the Hadozee species in Dungeons & Dragons due to some players finding the language to be “offensive” to black people, as well as undertaking an internal effort to avoid using the term “Tribal” in regards to Magic: The Gathering due to its “negative connotations”.
Not only that, but the publisher has also taken steps to discontinue use of ‘half-‘ species, as they found the entire concept to be “inherently racist“.