Path to Casual: Player Responsibility (part.1)
I normally would rather write about some new cool thing you could do with the Tribal format. Or maybe an article about how to build with synergy for Emperor. Heck, I’d even rather write about how good of deck CawBlade is in Standard, and I hate that deck with a passion. But, today, I’d rather talk about something entirely different. Something that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with casual play, theory, deck construction, or anything else you are probably accustomed to in a Magic: The Gathering article. I would like to discuss a little thing called player responsibility.What exactly is player responsibility? The term, I am positive, you have heard before. It refers to holding ourselves, as player of Magic: The Gathering, responsible for our own actions. That we should not just say “Oh, this is a game and since there is nothing in the rules against what I am doing it must be okay.” But to put it into a more frank phrasing, it means don’t be an asshole.
To be honest, 9 out of 10 times when I am playing Magic, I don’t have to remind my opponents to be polite while they play. In fact, I spend most of my games cracking jokes with my opponents and having a pretty good time. Which considering the fact that outside the Magic community I have to deal with the unpleasantness that are an occupational hazard of being an out transsexual individual. So, I can honestly say that overall my experience with the player community has been positive.
If everything is all lollipops and sunshine, why am I even talking about this? I guess maybe it has to do with a side of my life that has nothing to do with my being a Magic player. If none of you know, I am transsexual. Physically transitioning from male to female and I will be completely honest. I know I do not look like a conventional female. I am 5’9″ and weigh 250lbs. I am built like a linebacker and have beard shadow from having years of facial hair before I came out. I have no illusions about my appearance. What I also have no illusions about is people’s reactions.
And before this gets accused as just as my pity parade, I would like you all to pause. Pause, take a deep breathe, and continue reading through the end. It is like when you crack open your pack in limited. You prob check the rare first and see you got something like Decimator Web, only to find out you got a gem like Go for the Throat a few cards down. So, consider this the Decimator Web portion of the pack and I promise that somewhere down the line you will find a card worth picking.
So, why did I bring up my being transsexual? Well, it is a little complicated to explain. I think we can all agree that Magic: The Gathering is a fairly competitive game. Even in the realm of casual, the game has to have a winner. Some one has to come out on top. Another thing we can agree on is that the overwhelming majority of Magic players are of the male gender. Correct? Not saying that there aren’t female Magic players, just pointing out the truth that they do not make up the majority. Oh, a point. I was going to get to one. In a competitive environment, smack talk is bound to happen. Even joking around in my casual play group at college I talk some smack. It just happens. Especially if I am laying down some bad beats.
Now, here is something you all may not want to admit. When males smack talk there are a few topics that are sure to get a rise out of your male opponent. You can talk smack about the women in their life(read: sisters, mother, girlfriend.) Or you could talk about how “gay” they are. Not even in the pejorative sense that @Dr_Jeebus recently defended on both his blog and on his Twitter a few weeks ago. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that rant soon. But I am talking about people using “gay” as a pejorative as in referring to the subject as a homosexual. Apparently, the male ego is universally fragile enough that collectively it is not comfortable with the suggestion of being homosexual. I have seen many a male player go on tilt when called “gay” or when on tilt tell their opponent “how fucking gay your deck” is.
Now insert here tired old excuse. It may sound something along the lines of “I don’t ever do that” or “those people are a small grouping of players” or “gay doesn’t mean homosexual anymore.” Which ya know what? I will agree to an extent on some accounts. Yes, you probably have never resorted to using “gay” as a derogatory term or in a pejorative manner. Sure, that is amazing. Here is the next step to a healthy player community, do you intercede when you hear it? Do you say something? Point how that may be offensive to anyone around you? Because otherwise you are contributing to the problem. By silently shaking your head, you allow the person to continue in the mindset that the usage of the word is acceptable and not offensive because no one said anything.
And I want to debunk a myth right now. The use of “gay” as a pejorative. I have heard a lot of chatter about the word meaning more than its roots of ‘happy” or “male homosexual.” That the evolution of the word is now acceptable and distant from both legitimate definitions. What do I mean by legitimate? As a Journalism major and English minor, I am referring to if the definitions used in the Oxford English Dictionary. Why? Because it tracks the origins of the words, down to the year its unique usage is first used. Along with that, it also will include idioms and slang usages. But I digress. “Gay” as a pejorative. Here is the problem with saying the word means more than being homosexual. This goes out specifically to you, Dr. Jeebus, since you brought etymology into the picture. Gay began being used as a term for homosexual males the same way queer was. Instead of referring to male and male relationships as homosexual, which was considered a mental illness at the time, people would say the two men had a very special relationship or that they were just very happy around each other. It had less to do with “your definition evolved on the basis that all homosexuals are complete and utter flaming queens,” as Jeebus was so kind to point out.
The evolution of the word “gay” as a pejorative is not as separated from the meaning of “gay” as to refer to a homosexual as some would like to rant and rave. It is not like “gay” grew into the meaning of “dumb, stupid, bad” all on its on. No, it stems from the negative connotations held towards homosexuals. People are not offended as much because it refers to homosexuals. Its because it continues to reinforce the sentiment of being “gay” as a bad thing. End of discussion.
This falls into something that I want to address. The “my friends, who are gay, aren’t offended when I use the word that way” excuse. You know what the problem with that statement is? It is, and this is a mentality I am hoping you don’t have, that all gay people feel the same way. I know I can call one of my Spanish friends a Spic. I know I can say some really offensive Jewish jokes around some of my friends. But do I use these terms around everyone? No. What works for you and your friends isn’t necessarily the same for every individual. And while I am not saying be PC all day every day. But if you know something is offensive to some, why would you go out of your way not only to use it but to then call people who are offended oversensitive? I have a pretty thick skin. I will be honest, I don’t care every time someone uses “gay” as a pejorative. The reason I go around correcting people is because I know it offends people. That’s like saying its ok to make 9/11 jokes because, after all, it was ten years ago. Right?
There are probably going to be a lot of trolls built off that last statement I made. Guess what, it isn’t how I feel. But I have learned that making realistic and universal comparisons tend to hit home more than to give people the evolution of the word “accost.”
I guess what I am saying is, watch what you say and do. I am not encouraging you to police yourself and be PC all the time. That would be absurd. What I am saying is, don’t throw things near a hornets’ nest and then expect people to sympathize with you when you get stung. Don’t hide behind hash tags like #realtalk. Don’t say you’re just being real and no nonsense. Because, you know what? At the end of the day, there are plenty of people at the end of the day who have to deal with abuse and ostracizing because they are some “gay ass faggot.” And that isn’t cool.
I love this game. But, certain players out there make me want to agree that we have no social skills and want to not be considered part of this community. Part Two of this series will discuss the community and its treatment of its female members. Until then, keep it casual.