Garfield tells The Escapist, "I was very wary of becoming the creator who had to control everything, that despised business concerns, and ended up killing his creation or being forced out by rational minds. Instead, I wanted to be the creator who worked with the business-minded folk to educate them as to the player's needs - and in turn learn the realities that conflicted with those needs, and work to find the best way to satisfy both.
"I also was scared of becoming a creator that wouldn't let anyone else contribute creatively. Instead, I tried [giving] the big picture for where I wanted to go and allow people to get there, creatively, on their own. I tried to offer advice and opinion rather than command, so that Magic grew with the best of many rather than the best of few.
"I am not sure where this attitude came from, but it has served me well. I guess maybe it comes partially from understanding that it is very easy to believe something and be wrong - so when you have responsibility, it is important to constantly re-evaluate those beliefs and really listen to those that differ."
That said, in guiding Magic's early development, Garfield held strongly to his big picture. "Magic was an immense challenge. There were no trading card game predecessors, and so there were no real pre-existing solutions to many of the problems we ran into. Every routine thing with trading card games these days was scary in those days. Each expansion, we learned more and more about the genre and established more and more standards, until we got to a place I really like.
"My main contribution to Magic during this time was constantly focusing on the players and trying to guide the decisions to maximize value to them, rather than the many competing forces like speculator, collector, distributor, shopkeeper, art enthusiast or story enthusiast. Powerful common cards, a strong tournament system, printing enough cards that the short-term speculators left - these are samples of the sort of decisions that I was a part of and pleased with. There were plenty of bad decisions made as well, but they have faded because, I think, the lessons got learned and we moved on."
Before Magic, competitive play in hobby games consisted mainly of small-time convention tournaments. Garfield fostered the thriving Magic tournament scene, which now attracts players worldwide competing for six-figure purses. "I have always loved serious analysis and play of games," he says. "I became convinced that the existence of these things doesn't hurt the casual player, and in fact is a boon to them. The analogy we drew was from basketball and the NBA. A lot of players who play basketball at the YMCA have no dream of being in the NBA, and yet without a robust, serious game core, they would probably be playing something else. By steering the game in this direction, I think we added a lot to the breadth of its interest and its longevity.