It's very rare for one player to be a pure Timmy or a pure Spike. More often, each player is a hybrid of these profiles, so that you could describe someone as "mostly Johnny, with strong Timmy elements and smattering of Spike when you piss him off."
Acknowledging these profiles has allowed the research and development team to consider which players might appreciate a given card. But that's not always the case, as sometimes players will surprise even the most experienced designer. "Most of the time, a designer has a good sense what psychographic profile will like the card when he is designing it. As Magic is a modular game where players can find inventive ways to mix and match things, cards are often used in ways other than what the designer originally intended," said Rosewater. "So yes, I have made many a Johnny card that ended up being beloved more by Spike than Johnny."
Overall, Rosewater thinks that most of the 500 or so unique Magic cards printed every year are designed with Spike in mind, but that is mostly because of the tournament format that plays with decks made with random booster packs. "Johnny usually has the least cards designed for him as he needs fewer cards to accomplish his task. An entire deck can often be built around one quirky card," he said.
The psychographic profiles of Timmy and Spike are not necessarily indicative of how dedicated the player is to the game. "One of the mistakes people often make is assuming that the psychographics line up completely with seriousness of play. It is true that more casual players are Timmies and more competitive players are Spikes but it is not one for one," said Rosewater. Wizards of the Coast is always trying to appeal to more casual players of Magic and they have introduced new products in recent years to offer new ways to play the game.
"Planechase, for instance, was created for multiplayer play with players that liked having more swing to their games - more up and downs to create exciting moments. Archenemy was created to allow one player to take on a team of multiple players," Rosewater said. "We have to make different cards for different types of players. We also have to create different play experiences as well. Our recent foray into multiplayer products is part of our constant exploration into giving our audience new ways to play."
It's impossible to say which profile buys the most cards or which group gets the most out of playing the game. "All the psychographic profiles support the game. That's why we spend so much time meeting the needs of each one," Rosewater said. And that is exactly what has allowed Magic to endure for so long, by appealing to the Spike, Timmy, and Johnny in all of us.
"Who's the most important psychographic profile? It's kind of like asking which of my children is my favorite," said Rosewater. "They are all important because it is the combination of all the psychographic profiles that makes the game what it is. I like to think of Magic as having a well-balanced ecosystem and [Magic] R&D is incentivized to maintain that ecosystem as best we can."
Patrick Jarrett plays in Magic tournaments.