When I was still nervous about talking to and hanging out with people in Magic R&D (I didn’t know them well, and I was still outside-looking-in), Matt took the first huge step for me: he got me onto his card set team – “Scissors” development, of the Rock-Paper-Scissors codenamed block – to try out my skills at R&D. Although I had a passion for game design, I know I certainly wouldn’t be in the position I have now if it weren’t for the kickstart Matt got for me. Not only was that team a fun group of people, but I learned a ton from Matt and the rest of the team about how to make Magic, and further integrated myself into R&D culture.
Matt is not afraid to state his opinion, which can be both abrasive and illuminating. Since he is very smart, it pays to listen, but because he is very vocal about how he feels, it can sometimes be painful to hear. Or, at least, it was for me when I was still in a very passive, learning, listening, understanding mode. His example led me to be more assertive on game design conversations, which is all positive in my opinion. Matt’s also got a great sense of humor, and I know humor is an important part of my relationships, so we’ve bonded over that too.
We hung out a bit on my one and only trip so far to Japan, in Kyoto, walking around outside the site when we both had some free time, looking for an ATM. Basically, I have a hard time remembering any *bad* times with Matt Place. Matt left Wizards and soon after left the Seattle area to work in other game design, which is a shame for me and us at Wizards, but obviously amazing for them.