Hello Magic judges! 2022 has been a year of so many changes and a whole lot of growth for the judge community. The Judge Academy team had a blast at Magic 30 in Las Vegas, and now that we’ve settled in after the event, we want to share some announcements about program changes for 2023. Events are coming back stronger around the world, and the Magic judge program is growing just as steadily. The overwhelming enthusiasm of this current generation of judges brings me and my team so much joy. You are all out there making big differences in your local communities, and it shows. I have only just recently taken on the mantle of Program Manager and yet I am already beaming with pride at all the feedback I’m hearing from tournament organizers and players worldwide. I want to channel all of these great big feelings into continuing to improve the educational resources available to our members. Judge Academy has come a long way, and I know 2023 is going to be a year of even bigger, better things for all of us. Thank you all for being by my side as I start this journey.
INTERNAL STRUCTURAL CHANGES
Last year Judge Academy began using an internal structure system based around the idea of having content “champions” to lead specific areas of the program in line with topics of particular interest to judges. After 10 months of working this way, the champion system appears to be an overwhelming success. Having a team of subject experts coordinating with each other while individually spearheading initiatives most closely related to their strengths is a dynamic which has brought out the best in all of us. Judge Academy intends to continue using this organization design for any future team expansion.
Here is the current set of Judge Academy Champions and their areas of responsibility:
Samantha Harr – Program Manager
Eric Dustin Brown – Strategy / Conferences
Daniel Lee – Rules / Policy
Jonah Kellman – Logistics / Levels
The Judge Academy team knows that everything is expensive right now with global economies in constant flux. Plus the costs and logistics of importing/exporting anything have gotten wacky, as you all have likely noticed. In an effort to keep our bills paid and our champions fed without straining our community members, Judge Academy has worked out that we will only need to increase membership dues from $75 to $85 in 2023. We appreciate everyone’s understanding, and we look forward to bringing you an even better Magic judge program in the upcoming year!
Here’s the part we know you’re all on the edge of your seat waiting for:
Level 1 content is getting translated to Brazilian Portuguese and Simplified Chinese in 2023. Judge Academy put out a call recently for judges who may be interested in doing some translation work for us and the response was way bigger than we could have expected.
The upcoming translation plan will unfold in phases that look something like this:
- Judge Academy staff will update a few out-of-date Level 1 modules, then have them retranslated in all current language offerings. (This step is almost complete already.)
- Translate all Level 1 content to Brazilian Portuguese and Simplified Chinese.
- Stretch goal for 2023: Translate all Level 2 content to Spanish and Japanese.
One of Samma’s biggest goals as Program Manager is to increase non-English language accessibility throughout the entire Judge Academy website. Translation is a time-consuming and expensive process, but it’s a project we want to prioritize on behalf of our thriving global community. Judge Academy appreciates and recognizes the efforts of all our judges, no matter how far away they may be from us here in the USA. If you’re out at events trying to make your Magic community even better, then we want to support you every step of the way!
We’ve heard a lot of feedback from members of the community and tournament organizers, regarding the value and meaning of each judge certification level. We realized that expectations weren’t matching reality, so we’re going to be updating our communication and providing a lot more information. Our goals include improving the clarity of progression and increasing accessibility while maintaining a high standard of quality. Judge Academy will be sharing our outline of changes in early December, with the changes going into effect in January 2023.
Also, on a related note, the revamped Level 3 Final Exam is going to be ready soon! This will actually likely happen just a bit before 2023 because we have a few judges aspiring towards L3 who will be taking their final exam in the near future. We are excited to finally have this important step of the process completely ready for them!
Based on observations and feedback, 2023 will bring structural changes to Judge Academy’s sponsorship goals for judge conferences. Part of providing better service will mean taking a more agile approach with regard to implementing structural changes going forward. If we notice things going wrong, or notice policies that need improvement, we will address those issues more quickly than ever before. This may make Judge Academy’s conference-related policies and procedures seem more volatile than in the past, but we are taking an internal stance not to let known problems fester just because it is more convenient to make changes only once a year or so.
Judge Academy will be greatly increasing our efforts to better serve our international community. A key takeaway from this past year is that some judge regions were way over-served with sponsorship in 2022 while other regions did not get nearly as much access to resources as we had hoped. Judges from underserved regions: Please consider organizing conferences. We want your communities to continue thriving, and we want to help make that happen.
Additionally, we want judge conferences that are sponsored by Judge Academy to be higher quality events going forward. In 2023 we will be reviewing conference sponsorship applications with a much sharper eye for excellent ideas and organization in the pre-planning stages. In particular, we intend to be much more critical of online conference sponsorship applications that come from historically over-served judge regions. To dispel some rumors and misunderstandings: While this may result in a reduction of online conferences in some regions, a reduction of online conferences is not actually our goal. Judge Academy wants to make sure that the online conferences we sponsor are robust, high-quality, unique, fun, educational events. We also want to make sure that the online conferences we sponsor are being held online rather than in-person for reasons that make sense.
A full breakdown of conference updates will be published very soon, so keep an eye out for that.
UPCOMING Q1 PROMOS
Sword of War and Peace
(Can you detect a theme here?)
We do not yet have the art to share with you all unfortunately, but as soon as we do it will go up all over our social media.
In the last year, Judge Academy has had the incredible honor of adding a few new countries to our region maps! Becoming the first certified Magic judge in a country is such a cool thing to accomplish. We delight in seeing a love for Magic: The Gathering spreading to new places. The addition of new countries, population density, along with some well-considered feedback regarding region naming conventions has led us to begin a global region reorganizing/renaming process.
Folks have expressed reasonable critique regarding:
- Regions that contain multiple countries being named after one single country.
- Regions that contain multiple languages being named after one single language.
How this will work:
- Non-USA regions will be adjusted at the beginning of 2023.
- USA regions will be receiving adjustments mid-2023, or at the latest at the beginning of 2024.
It’s important that we serve you – the members of the community. Assumptions about the composition of the community are all too easy to make. In order to better understand and serve judges around the globe, Judge Academy will be releasing a demographic survey at the beginning of December this year. The survey is wholly anonymous and entirely optional, but we really hope to hear from you about who you are, and what’s important to you.
You can find more information here: judgeacademy.com/survey
The First Week series has been a lot of fun, but it just scratched the surface of what a Judge Academy Twitch channel could be used for. In 2023 we are looking to expand beyond the First Week model. We especially want to bring in more out-of-the-box presentations and perspectives from beyond the world of Magic that could benefit our judge community. Also, the Judge Academy team is exploring the addition of set primer and format primer content to help keep our judges even better informed as the game continues to change.
Judge Academy’s team of web developers has been working hard all year to enhance the website’s functionality, speed, and appearance! We greatly appreciate all the folks who have submitted feedback and bug reports as we continue to polish Judge Academy’s online presence.
The website enhancement adventure never ends, however. In 2023 we have a few goals in mind:
- The home page will gain more utilitarian elements.
- The event listing creation process will be updated to be more intuitive, customizable, and attractive.
- The message board system will be updated both functionally and aesthetically.
- The project system will be updated both functionally and aesthetically.
- Individual pages that are currently way too long and kinda confusing will be combined and condensed into much more straight-forward information repositories.
- Judge blogs. (We know we said this last year, but it completely got away from us. This year for sure!)
- And as we discussed earlier, more translations.
CODE OF CONDUCT
Judge Academy’s code of conduct as it currently exists is not as easily understandable as we believe it should be. A new code of conduct has been written and is set to release at the start of the new year. (Maybe even earlier!) To be clear, not much is going to be changing functionally in the way Judge Academy handles conduct reports. The new code of conduct is written to be a more pragmatic reflection of what behavioral expectations Judge Academy can enforce, and when/where/under what circumstances Judge Academy is able to enforce those expectations as an education and certification institution. In circumstances of concerning behavior that do not fall within Judge Academy’s actionable purview, the updated code of conduct will also explain what other parties you can report that behavior to.
Judge Academy is creating content for a series of badges related to areas of judge expertise that exist somewhat outside of the level system. We have a precedent set with the Digital Events badge that is being offered already and we are going to continue to expand on this idea.
The first new specialist track is being released next week. Keep an eye out for our upcoming Commander Specialist education track! If you love judging Commander events, then show off your hard-earned knowledge with Judge Academy’s new Commander Specialist badge!
Tracks that have been requested for the future:
Casual Multiplayer Format Specialist (Archenemy, Planechase, etc.)
We have loved hearing judges’ ideas so far. Let us know what you want to see!
Specialist coursework will be available to Magic judges certified at Level 1 or higher.
This has been an overview of what the Judge Academy team talked about at Magic 30, plus a mishmash of other information we want you all to know as we approach the end of the year. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions please contact us any time!
If you have any thrilling tales of perilous adventure, ominous warnings, or perplexing visions of things yet to come, please contact Samma directly!