The More You Know – An Outsider’s Prospective

We have a special treat for you today.  A double interview from to of the costars of Red Cast Wins.  Sean aka SwordtoPlow and Jason.  In this installment they interview their significant others about Magic and why some one would ever dream of not playing it.  Be prepared to have your feelings hurt and your eyes opened.

Part 1: Jason and Danielle 

Recently there have been a lot of articles appearing around the web about females playing magic. These articles argue about where the female place in Magic really is and how these female players are treated by their male counterparts. A lot of what has been said about male magic players in general by female writers has been very negative. I do not wish to argue those points. Instead I only wished to go to the female player closest to me, and ask her some questions about what was going on in the community, and get her take.

This female player happens to be my long term girlfriend. Now, I’m sure some of you may think that our relationship may create some form of bias in her answers. Before I even let her accept the interview, I told her she had to tell me the truth. I needed to hear exactly how she felt about the questions I asked and that she shouldn’t hold anything back. Well, as you are about to find out, she really didn’t hold anything back. None of this interview has been altered. These are her words exactly and boy, are they heavy.

Jason: “What was your very first interaction with Magic? Not limited to actually playing?”

Danielle: “My first interaction with Magic was when I was in fifth grade when these kids came to school with these cards that they collected. They didn’t play the game, just collected the cards like they did with their Pokemon cards. I actually didn’t even know it was a game until I met Jason during my Freshman year in college. The first ‘real’ interaction I had with the game was the first night Jason took me to FNM.”

Jason: “What was your reaction to this first experience when you were in fifth grade? We will come back to FNM later.”

Danielle: “My reaction in fifth grade was that I thought the pictures were cool. But other than that I never really payed attention to it. I think I may have had a Magic The Gathering computer game, but I never played it.”

Jason: “How long have you played Magic?”

Danielle: “Not very long, about two years now. But, my total games is under 30.”

Jason: “Who do you play Magic with?”

Danielle: “I only play with Jason, although I have recently played with Jason’s brother once.”

Jason: “This question we already know the answer to, but I’ll ask for the sake of form. Have you ever been to FNM and if so, what do you think of it?”

Danielle: “I have been to many FNMs. The first time I went was to the ones near the college. It was very odd because there was a mix of college kids and older guys there playing. A few of them were nice, but most of them were like ‘Hey, who’s this chick standing in the corner?’ I just felt very awkward. No one really talked to me. They just stared.”

Jason: “Have you ever been to a larger event and if so how did it make you feel?”

Danielle: “I’ve never been to anything larger than FNM. Jason always wanted me to go to like Regionals or States, but I just never had any desire to go really. I knew I’d be bored and that we’d have no idea when Jason would be done playing. I also felt like it’d be very awkward for me to go. I was already gawked at during FNM. A larger event would probably be even worse. I also know that when you go play magic with your friends you just talk about Magic the entire time and I sit there without anyone trying to include me in the conversation.”

Jason: “How do you feel about Magic players in general?”

Danielle: “It’s really strange. I feel like Magic players are the meanest gamers I’ve come across. Jason and I are around gamers all the time. For example, I feel that people who play Dungeons and Dragons or Board Games are much more accepting and understanding of new players than Magic players are. It is like Magic players who have been playing for a while look at themselves differently. They look at someone who is just starting out as if that person is beneath them. Magic players are elitists and condescending and just don’t want to meet new people. Even though, that’s stupid. You should want to meet new players to keep the game you play thriving.”

Jason: “Have you had any negative experiences derived from Magic and the social infrastructure that surrounds it?”

Danielle: “FNM was a little negative. No one was really open to me except Jason’s two friends who knew me outside of the game. But even then, when it was Magic time, Danielle didn’t exist. Even after, when we went out to eat the entire conversation was based around Magic and I just sat there. This has gotten a little better since I’ve learned to play because now I understand the conversation, even though I’m still not really part of it. However, I did have one experience that made me never want to go back to FNM for a long time. A player approached me and told me that if I was bored I could go sleep in his truck with his wife. When I stammered and said no thank you his next response shocked me. He told me that I’d have fun because his wife was bi-sexual. I had no idea how to even respond and didn’t say anything, just stood there in disbelief until he finally said ‘hey, had to try, right?’ and walked away. It made me feel so uncomfortable and dirty. How could you talk to someone you don’t even know that way? It was by far on of the worst experience I’ve had in any social setting, let alone the Magic scene.”

Jason: “Have you had any positive experiences derived from the social aspect of Magic?”

Danielle: “Yes, Jason had a few really nice friends that went to FNM. One of them even tried to teach me to play in between their games. However, his opponent seemed frustrated that he was focusing on teach me, and not the game itself. So, even this nice gesture from one player was ruined by another who just didn’t seem to care about anything except their own experience.”

Jason: “Would you ever play Magic with more than just your significant other? Why yes or no?”

Danielle: “I probably would not. Sometimes I think about it, but I really feel like people won’t want to play against me. I think I can play against players I know, but I could never go play at FNM because I’m still new and the players wouldn’t care enough to help a new player and that my experience would therefore be negative. I’ll stick to just playing on the kitchen table with Jason, his brother, or maybe one of our other friends.”

Jason: “What could the magic playing community do to make it more desirable for you to interact and possibly play with them?’

Danielle: “Very bluntly, stop being fucking douche-bags. Stop acting like you’re better than everyone else just because you play Magic the Gathering for a while and know what you’re doing. Be more open to people. Stop acting like you live in your mom’s basement and have no social skills. I know it’s difficult, because you’re like “I’m so BAMF”, but you need to stop. You’re pushing away new players. Learn how to talk to girls. Don’t just hit on us. It’s inappropriate, especially in a competitive format. If you want to talk to us, try introducing yourself and talking to us like we’re real human beings.”

 There we have it straight from a female’s mouth to my own ears. The articles going up around the web on this subject hold truths. Maybe instead of fighting back against these views, and as male Magic players we should step back and re-evaluate ourselves. We need to see our faults for what they are and begin changing them. We want the game we play to do well. Magic is approaching is 20 year mark and has achieved a longevity that no other card game can hold a candle to. If we want Magic to last another 20 years it needs new players. If our actions are causing new players, whether male or female, to have negative experiences then we are being detrimental to the game’s survival. Women are people too and can be just as competitive as men are. Trust me; you should see Danielle sling burn sometime. We need to accept female players and to begin treating them appropriately. This doesn’t mean we treat them with little-kid gloves, but we should be understanding and helpful, not as Danielle puts it, “Douche-bags”.

-Jason

Part 2: Brena and Sean

Jason mentioned on twitter a few weeks ago that he was going to be interviewing his long term girlfriend about Magic the Gathering and her perspective on the issue.  When I saw this, I immediately thought this was a great idea.  In recent months we have gotten interviews from female players, male players, female judges and women who do not play magic, but are still active in the community and make delicious Magic themed baked goods.  The prospective I thought we were missing was women who have played magic, been introduces to community and have knowingly decided not to be involved with Magic.

Jason informed me that his girlfriend did not play magic with almost anyone but him.  My fiancée is the same way.  She knows how to play.  We enjoy a game on occasion.  However, she does not go to FNM and will not play in a game that I am not involved.   I was able to get Brena’s consent to interview her.  She wants everyone to know that her opinions do not apply to every Magic player.   She is sure there are plenty of Magic players that can exists in social environments outside a hobby shop.  However, they are not the majority of the players she has seen.

Without any more delay: Interview #2

What was your very first interaction with Magic (not limited to playing)?

The first interaction with magic I had was one of the first times I went over to your friend’s house.  You taught me by having me play with your friends.  It was really intimidating because some of your friends seemed to have anger issues.  It was also intimidating because everyone else had a much better grasp of the game than I did.

What was your reaction to this first experience?

It is a lot more complicated than it looks.  It is frustrating because it is not quick to learn.  It is intimidating when everyone knows what every card does but you. It felt like everyone was speaking a different language.  

I didn’t know how to react to everything.  I was not sure if people were even telling me the truth about each card or just trying to get me out of the game so they could keep playing.

How long have you played magic?

2 ½ years.  You didn’t play it seriously before that, so I had never tried it.

Who do you play Magic with?

You and just you.

Have you ever been to FNM? If so, what do you think of it?

I have stopped by to pick you up at a few.  I have no interest in participating.

Have you gone to larger events (even without playing)? If so, what did you think of them?

I have never been to a larger event.  I have not liked the smaller ones, so I have never even tried showing up at a larger venue.

How do you feel about magic players in general?

They stink.  Most of them don’t pay attention to personal hygiene as much as they should.  This is especially gruesome considering how close you have to be someone when you play.  You should really be bathing on a daily basis, wearing clean clothes, and using deodorant.  Obviously not all Magic players are like this, but that grimy stinky, hermit style of gamer is very off putting. I am not a shallow person.  People do not have to be magazine models to be my friend.  Actually, we have met a few nice acquaintances in magic.  But, the ones who are social are far outnumbered by the people who don’t know how to interact with others.   I love playing games with people as a whole.  But, the people who eat sleep and breathe magic to the point where they forget to care for themselves make me shy away from playing the game.  These are the types of people that give nerds a bad name.

Have you had any negative experiences derived from Magic and the social infrastructure that surrounds it? 

All the times we have had where your friends have argued and nitpicked to the point that the fun of the game is completely lost were all bad experiences.

Have you had any positive experiences?

I have enjoyed playing with you.

 Would you ever consider playing with more than just your significant other? Why yes or why no.

No. To sum it up; there is a kind of nerd ego that goes along with the highly competitive guys.  They look down their noses at the people who don’t play it all the time or people who just want to play for fun.  The same kind of egotistical snubbing that most nerds have had to deal with at some point of their life is the vibe that they give off to people on the outside of the community or supporters of the community who don’t play competitively. 

For people who have been bullied, picked on, and teased at some point, I would have guessed they would be more sensitive to this kind of treatment.  I would have guessed they would be more welcoming and excited to show others how to play and why they like it.  Instead you get people who just care about whether or not they are winning.

Is there anything else you would like to tell the magic community?

I am not saying do not do what you love. Do what makes you happy.  If you want to bring new people into your circle, especially women, try to soften your approach to the game, especially for newcomers. Try to interact with the people you play with about more than just Magic.  In the end it is about hanging out and having a good time.

 You might be wondering what you can take from these interviews.  My take on it is this;  if you want Magic the Gathering to go from a loose collection of oily nerds with social problems to a hobby that people are not ashamed to play, grow up.  Magic is your hobby not your life.  Magic is a social activity.  You are going to be interacting with other people.  Follow the golden rule and treat others like you would like to be treated.  Try and make Magic as fun for others as it is for you.

-STP

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Posted on August 9, 2011, in Extras, Perilous Research, The Commander's Chair and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. Great interviews. Nothing too surprising in here, but it does make me sad. That fact that it doesn’t seem like the Magic etiquette and environment is ever going to change makes it even sadder. The game would be better off if it appealed to girls as much as guys *and* there was an environment that encouraged that.

    • @Gerry
      But would it? Many games have been made to cater to both sexes, and often times that means a softening of the difficulty curve, and a move towards more cartoonish/chibi-esque art and images. This I refer to in terms of card games, board games and even video games. Magic has been hugely successful for the traits that define it as it stands. Changing the formula could be disastrous.

      • Paul. The problem both of the women in this article have is not with the game itself, but with the attitude of many of the players. The appeal to women has to be at a social level, not a game play level. As Gerry mentioned, it is about attitude and etiquette.

      • Yeah, this is about attitude and etiquette.

        For the art style specifically, Wizards has been catering the style of the game to both sexes for some time already. Examples would be the refusal to no longer print images like Earthbind, and in most cases displaying powerful women in tasteful attire, and not hyper-sexualized images that would sell more cards to boys.

        (Examples of how to do it wrong are abundant on http://gomakemeasandwich.wordpress.com/)

        it’s not like Wizards is all of a sudden going to change Power/Toughness Gossip/Thick-Skin and all of a sudden start making Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives expansion sets.

        There are plenty of women read fantasy novels and love fantasy setting, yet these women that have every reason to already like the game are put off by these unfortunate social situations.

      • This still Gerry. (Wish I could edit the above for my typos.)

        I wanted to add that this behavior isn’t limited to just the Magic community. This same behavior also limits the amount of women that play poker and other games. If you’re a girl Starcraft gamer… Best to keep your identity a secret.

        -Gerry Abesamis

  2. Article seems a bit one sided. Both of the subjects in this limited case study approach Magic in the same way.
    Both subjects respond to the stimuli of the environment of a FNM the same way. Intimidated and put off by the participants. I almost detect a hint of predisposition to not try to become more involved with the culture, and a judgement of those who are.

    • The article is definitely one sided. Me and Jason decided to both interview our significant others because of their similarities. This is not intended to be an exhaustive case study.

      But both of them did not respond to FNM the same way. Danielle stayed in the store and tried to play with players. Brena was so putt off she does not even play Magic the Gathering in a store, only at home. Sure both of them did not like what they were introduced to, but they reacted different ways.

      As a predisposition to not try to become more involved with the culture, I can at least say that Brena had none. She had never heard of MTG before meeting me, so had no preconceived notions going into it. However, why would they try to get more involved with a culture they didn’t like? I do not like pouring salt into open wounds. I am not going to try and become more involved with it to see if I can develop a taste for it.

      As far as judging MTG players go, Danielle and Jason have been together for quite a while and Brena and me are getting married. If they were putt off by ALL MTG players and the culture these relationships would not work. Both Jason and Myself are heavily involved in the MTG community thanks to the support of our better halves.

    • It’s not trying to be a scientific presentation. They’re not subjects of an objective, measured study, they’re subjects of a deeply subjective interview speaking the truth of their experience. I don’t see that they’re predisposed to think poorly of those who’re part of the Magic community; they’re *dating* people in the Magic community.

      Whether we like the fact that they’ve had such negative experiences or not – I’d assume most dislike that, except if most disliked it then they probably wouldn’t have had those experiences in the first place – they’re legitimate. We can say that we’re not part of the problem, and indeed a lot of guys *aren’t* part of the problem.

      But some are. And sadly, they sour the environment for a great many would-be participants.

  3. So, what I got from the article was basically “Herp, Magic players are mean, antisocial, smell bad, and can’t talk to women. Derp.” (I may have missed any actual points, I’ll grant you)

    • Yes the reaction of the both of the women in this article was that too many magic players are antisocial. One of the reasons this is an article is because the other articles on this topic refuse to acknowledge antisocial behavior as a reason for the lack of female Magic players.

      The “herp. derp.” comment is a great example of how belittling non-magic players keeps people from wanting to be more involved in the community.

  4. This article raises a multitude of questions surrounding this beloved game of ours and I agree with SwordsToPlow that Kyle Maier offers us a case in point.

    What is it about Magic that attracts this type of people?
    Is it really as simple as a way for guys to unleash suppressed childhood vengeance on their once bullies?

    And why do they stick around? I have never met a “Douche Bag” Magic player that has had any kind of success at the game. I would say probably 95% of the better than half decent Magic players I have ever met have been shining examples of well kept, approachable people. Just look at some of the top pros these days…

    I hope there are more articles from all sources on this subject because my wife hates Magic and refuses to play.

    • I can say that I have met pros and successful player who were giant douche bags. ( I do not like to name names)

      I think one of the problems may be that the people who are problems don’t see the lack of women in magic as an issue. Many people on twitter see the anti-social barrier as a right of passage.

  5. ok my first thought is… why are their only a handful of comments on here? People should either be defending their own LGS, or they should be agreeing with the sentiments in here. I have luckily (as far as I know) had a better experience playing with and learning from female players. But the issues raised here are important, and to be fair have pissed me off a little bit. I am angry at my how part of the community I feel I am a part of has treated women (and actually based on these stories, it also seems to be about new players and may not depend on gender)

    • While this was just 2 very specific and unusual cases(women who play magic, date magic players and don;t play against almost anyone buy their significant other) I think that the sentiments could apply to many new players that choose not get into the hobby. I want more people to play magic, regardless of gender. So, when someone tells me why they do not want to play, I try to listen.

      • Exactly, when I draft with new players, I try to make sure they are having fun. After a match I try to help explain things to them about their decks. Yes I try to win my match, and don’t insult them by altering my play, but I try to help ensure they will come back. I am also speaking as someone who has not been able to get his gf to play, but she has interacted with and seems to enjoy some of my magic friends 🙂

      • DaughterofElros

        I think you’d be Surprised to find how very very NOT unusual these cases are.

  6. Thanks for sharing these stories. While some of what these women experienced occurs anytime you walk into a completely new community (jargon, intense focus on one topic) and some of it is a side effect of a competitive tournament environment, much of it is simply misogyny, rudeness, and other unacceptable and undesirable behaviour. Men shouldn’t be defensive, we should simply not tolerate it.

    I’m sure we can also back down off the competitiveness a bit at FNM long enough to make new-comers welcome… that would probably be good, too. Six packs and a foil? Get some perspective! You can beat them on your merits, there’s no need to be a jerk.

  7. First off…it is VERY clear that yoy guys have a real crappy FNM scene. I will talk about it with my wife, who plays, but I am absolutely disgusted that you would ENCOURAGE your significant others to come near a degenerate place like your FNM. It’s your fault. You know the players, you know what goes on…its YOUR FNM! At all FOUR of my FNMs that I circuit the phrase “this is a family friendly place” is taken very seriously. You have to take responsibility for your circle. My wife said that while there a few steriotypes present, for the most part the people are great and welcoming. Several of our wives and girlfriends come to FNMs, prereleases and the like. I wish your girlfriends came to any of our stores and maybe could have had a better time.

    If anyone talked to my wife like that, I would slug the shit out of him.

    • Maybe your right. Maybe the dozen or stores she has been to, as well as however many stores Jason’s gf has been to are the problem. If that is the case NONE of the stores in the Sacramento area are appropriate and none of the stores in the state of Kansas are a good environment. I should be ashamed that I am part of a hobby that lets whole metropolitan areas and states become bad places to play. Could you please inform me of the utopia you live that is a better place than where both me and Jason live and play. Perhaps we should move for the sake of a better hobby environment?

      I would be happy to show her a store that would give her a better opinion of the people who play Magic.

      • See my comment to your comment to my comment to Aadel’s comment, I forgot the 4th store that I play EDH at sometimes which is in Fall’s Church, VA – Compleat Strategist. If anyone ever has player issues there, each owner is MORE than happy to provide that player with the address of another store.

      • Also…best way to fix things is to lead by example. Talk to your friends and work on getting a more open group. One thing to try is a “social night” and a “competitive” night…where social night gives prizes for who votes you the most fun….that would be a good way to open the scene for new blood and most store owners would jump at it….since it doesn’t cost them any extra (since you are still paying to play) but can result in more business from a different genre of people….

  8. I think showing up to an FNM you aren’t playing in is setting yourself up to be gawked at and treated awkwardly. It’s not like bigger events where people show up to hang out or trade or do side events. Magic players interact with other Magic players, not people who just happen to be in the store. You can’t complain about the community shutting you out if you aren’t doing anything that identifies you as wanting to be part of it, and shadowing your significant other doesn’t count.

    Both of the women interviewed in this piece seem like they have no interest in Magic beyond learning it because their significant other plays. I’d be more sympathetic to their experience if it was less “Magic players are mean and scary wah” and more “I love playing Magic but the community makes me feel terrible”.

    The Magic community as a whole needs to be more open and sociable and go easy on people who have just gotten into the game (in the sense that you aren’t overly critical of them or their play).

  9. From my own experience, I can say that there are many players who seem to believe they have a divine right to win (and thus, losing to anyone perceived as “weaker” is taken as a profound insult, and justification for throwing a tantrum). This isn’t good for getting any sort of new players into the game. There are also many players who are socially immature (which, for males, negatively impacts their interactions with females even more than it does with other males).

    It is unfortunate, but there may be no real way to remedy the substantial numbers of players with these traits – but we can watch for them in ourselves, and try to treat new players, both male and female, as kindly as we can. Also, if you see an immature player treating a new (or old) player inappropriately, let that new player know that we, as a Magic community, do not approve of behavior like that.

  10. This article really makes me think on a few levels. My wife has only showed an occasional interest in the game. Enough to where I know no to push it on her.

    She has met a number of my magic playing friends and for the most past has had pleasurable social interactions with them.

    I will have to pay closer attention to how the occasional female that comes to FNM is treated. I try and treat new players respectfully and give advice when I feel it is wanted and warranted but the actual number of times that I sit down across the table from a female to sling spells is a pretty small number.

    I am, and actually have been prior to this post, a bit concerned as to what kind of environment my daughter will be walking into should she take her curtsy interest in the game any further.

    Granted, she wouldn’t be without me and by the time she would make it to a FNM she would have a solid grasp of ybd game. I just wonder about the social environment now.

  11. Instead of blaming each other, I think the key is to recognize that this is actually a well-documented phenomenon, called “chilly climate.” In academic fields that are heavily male-dominated, a subtle, persistent sexism causes women to feel unwelcome, as described above. In such workplaces, programs are enforced to raise awareness about the hurtfulness of stereotypes so subtle you don’t realize you have them. Any given remark can be brushed off as “not a big deal” or “arguably not sexist,” but the point is, they hear the comments over and over again. And that’s really tiring. With a steep learning curve required to begin to decipher the jargon Brena describes, is it really any surprise that many women don’t stick it out? Thank you for promoting discussion about these issues!

  12. I love MTG and I played regularly at Legacy in our local card shop. I can agree with the sentiments your wives have laid out- d-bag comments and all. I have had to work harder and be nicer to all the people at the tournaments than my husband did just to have a conversation with them.

    The guys will pull cheaty stunts on me and try to get away with it- they try to talk me into crappy trades, they generally do not respect the fact that I might know just a little about the game. However, I have placed 2nd more than once.

    My husband and I even traveled to a larger Legacy event- guess what. Different place- same d-bags (3 states away). They weren’t nasty or rude- but only 1 guy talked to me in the 6 hours that we were there. He was pretty cool, and he beat my butt hardcore with his ANT deck. However, my husband was right next to me and guys would approach him and chit chat, ask about his deck, etc. Totally bogus.

    Do you understand why I would want to just play in the comfort of my own home with people I like? We have FNM at our house with 6 of our friends- and we have even gotten a couple of their wives to start playing. There is no way that I am going to send them to our local card shop for an event- not even the guys who are just getting started out.

    And I’m just wondering Maxblade81- how exactly do you make everyone in the shop adhere to “family friendly rules” and not be d-bags? Unless you have some clout with the owner, you are pretty much not in charge.

    • Well Aadel, its not just me, but the group as a whole collectively enforces it. I do know the owners and we have asked people to leave and got backed up. But for the most part, we lead by example and when someone starts getting out of hand we pretty much put our cards down and deal with it. There are off color jokes all over but if anyone thinks someone has gone too far (as I have with a Mom joke to a guy I didn’t know was still in High School) someone acts like an adult and steps up, and the group backs up the higher moral ground. Maybe I am just blessed with a collective of guys n gals who just want to have fun…. But we get the pro tour guys and even they agree… One gut threatened to call the cops on a us when we asked him to leave…dude made a huge play error and cussed out the judge and then we as a group said we didn’t want his kind around and to be polite (his opponent was 15 and this guy dropped all sorts of profanities). Owner kicked him out and told him he was banned.
      Magic is a Community game….the community is where we need to correct bad behavior

      • I think we could all learn from Max’s example. I wish more communities had this kind of integrity.

      • You are all welcome to come to Maryland and play with us! Third Eye Comics, Family Game Store, and Hacker’s Ink Man Cave would love to have more folks! Just mind your manners 😉

      • I suggest getting the store owners engaged in trying foster the right environment. It makes more fiscal sense to have 2 rookie players at FNM that one veteran with a chip on his shoulder.
        I don’t know of a single shopkeep who wouldn’t take 2 girls over a guy who doesn’t bathe….does that make sense? Does having players who are rude and smelly encourage more business? No….it encourages their business to be as stagnant as the water in the players laundry machine….better fresh.

      • @Maxblade81- that is awesome that you have the owner’s backing. Unfortunately, our closest card shop owner is a bit of a d-bag himself. We don’t take our kids in there b/c of his language and inappropriateness. That store is 20 miles away- and the only other option is 40 miles away.

        If we could organize our own events- we could get 10-20 people on a Friday night. (if we had the space and permission) We stopped going to Legacy because there weren’t enough people to even hold a tournament- people stopped coming. I think part of it was the attitude of the shop-owner himself.

        Anyways- I won’t quit trying! We have a rotating band of new/casual players at our house every Friday and my husband is actively getting people back into the game. I personally want to overcome the stigma that female Magic players won’t get competitive or stick with it for long.

        My husband and I started playing MTG when we first got married- in 2000. We didn’t have anyone to play with back then so we got rid of our cards. 3 kids and 9 years later, we picked it up again and have enjoyed the process of learning together. Recently, we even started our own podcast together and it is listed on mtgcast.com (Fatal Flaw- if anyone is interested).

        My biggest beef with Magic players is their inherent arrogance. I recently commented on a *famous* players article- and was told that the article was not targeted towards non-competitive players. It is those kind of attitudes that ruin reputations and drive away potential lovers of the game.

  13. It sucks to know that individuals as described by the interviewees exist. I haven’t seen anything of the sort mostly because I play with fellow college students and there’s no women around (unfortunately). The few events i have attended outside of campus have been pleasant so no complains there either. However my significant other does enjoy playing from time to time but not outside our circle and by that i mean, me and her. I don’t blame her. I took her once to an FNM and once to Regionals and both times she had to sit quietly as I played. It’s daunting to enter a game with intricate rules and have a fear of players who can potentially turn into assholes and unleash a sleuth of sexism. It hasn’t happened but its potential is off-putting. I honestly don’t play in FNMs often enough because i don’t have the time; nor bring my girlfriend along because she lives in another city but it’d be great to see a change in attitudes towards new comers in the Magic scene.

  14. I can see how these interviews hold so much truth and meaning but one can only hope it strikes a cord with players. I myself have been lucky that once I started going to FNM, I met that stores “core” players who show up every week; and who were all quite eager to talk to new players. They didn’t show boat or be rude since many often asked me before rounds “hey, how are you liking it here at FNM? Are you having fun?” And actually including me. I’m quite the shy person and normally don’t initiate much talk to other players so being welcomed was nice. I truly have been to another store where I’ve seen these kind of elitist, slightly sexist guys show boat about their trips to PTQs or Opens though they never place well… needless to say, I refuse to really return to that store for FNM and stay with my main choice every week. I know I’m writing out a story depicting my first experiences with FNM for no reason but hear me out. Woman deserve equal opportunity and chances like I’ve had. Sure, I’m positive some probably have, but the likelihood so much smaller. People need to realize that this is a very fun, unique game that relies on its community and is the sole reason its been around almost as long as I have.

  15. @Raziel: If you want your girlfriend to enjoy the experience of a tournament then teach her how to play properly so she can attend herself. If she isn’t interested in competitive playing then she shouldn’t come to tournaments, because she’ll be bored. A Magic tournament just isn’t the right occasion to bring your girlfriend to watch, because if you’re playing a tournament you’re playing a tournament, and when you’re playing a competitive game of Magic you normally don’t have the time to talk very much and it’s also very disrespectful to your opponent to talk to someone all the time.
    That being said I think the biggest problem with playing Magic is that it’s just very hard to get into the game just for everyone, learning to play Magic properly takes about half a year to two years (to know the rules correctly and know how things work, playing perfect is lifelong learning process). For a woman it’s obviously harder to stay into the game because it can be very frustrating and being in a group with only men certainly doesn’t there a bit. That’s because most women who are playing Magic have come to it via their boyfriends.
    I think if more women were playing Magic then more women would start playing Magic. But since there are so few women playing Magic there won’t be very many to start.
    And I have to say if someone shows interest in the game and really wants to know how to play properly I will help him or her no matter the sex, but if you come to the store not showing interest in the game then you maybe shloud spend your time elsewhere.

  16. @zur
    Comments like yours literally make me facepalm.
    You really don’t get it and wasted your time typing that comment.
    Excusing the innappropriate behavior of our fellow players because Magic is “hard” just doesn’t cut the mustard.
    And you’re missing the point:
    Each of us that spends our non-Magic free time with a female friend (spouse, girlfriend, whatever), want to SHARE Magic with them, and because of “Douche-bags” it can NEVER progress any farther than the kitchen table. And that’s not fair to anyone.

    In all honesty, unless you have a wife or girlfriend, you really shouldn’t be making “informed” comments on the subject because you end up sounding like one of the trolls being complained about.

  17. RealEvilGenius

    I’d just like to take a moment to point out that my girlfriend who I interviewed for the article is indeed competitive. She understands and knows the mechanics of the game. She had to learn fast, I didn’t pull punches while teaching her. She knows that she favors aggressive strategies to control ones. She wanted to get into the more competitive side of Magic, however it is now the community holding her back from doing so. If our area wasn’t so unwelcoming she may have already been participating in events like PTQs or Gamesdays. But again, it’s the community, not her skill holding her back.

  18. I always find it amazing that the dictum “treat other people better” always encounters resistance whenever expressed. We get excuses, rationalisations, and even blame-the-victim responses whenever we are asked to raise the level of discourse, and that’s a reflection of emotional immatureity. Unfortunately, for whatever reason that’s not uncommon amongst the demographic that Magic targets.

    I’d wager its Magic’s competitiveness that sets it apart from other related communities, like Dungeons and Dragons. And while oftentimes this is presented in a bit of a chicken-little way (the game is going strong 18 years on despite having to deal with this same issue for much of that time), it’s still important to recognise. Every player turned off from an FNM might be one less player buying boosters at the LGS, yet when an LGS goes under everyone scratches their head and/or blames the owner. Every member of a community has a vested interest in the health of that community, and should conduct themselves with an awarenesas of this.

    Incidentally, while I hate to give credence to stereotypes, one of those interviewed was spot on with her ‘stink’ comment. My first major tournament attended was SCG Louisville, and you could smell the stench of the players as you got onto the escalator to get up to the game floor. It was unbelievable, and in the presence of my wife and kids I must confess to feeling a little embarrassed.

  19. @ zur

    I agree with you to an extent: women will have an incentive to play in the competitive sphere if there’s an existing female group however I don’t think that being a bit inexperienced to a game should be an obstacle to attend competitive events or even social rounds of magic at a local store; the real obstacle is the sexism. That’s the issue, my gf may be a more casual player and I teach her as often as she asks questions but most tournaments have side events that are casual but she won’t attend because of that fear of misogyny. She sat next to me because as much as she’d like to play her own game, that portion of the Magic community that taints our reputation as gamers exists.

    Granted a level of understanding goes a long way but what message are we sending? Don’t play at FNMs unless you know how to play, know all the obscure rules or else expect to be mistreated?

    It’s a social game at its heart and I think we need to be reminded of that. At any rate, thanks for the input.

  20. DaughterofElros

    Reading through the article, I found a great deal that I agreed with. Reading through the comments, I found several things that I agreed with, and several more that made me shake my head. Assertions that for women to like the game, it has to be “softer”, that it’s harder for women to grasp the fundamentals of the game, that women only discover the game through their men…

    There have been others who have pointed out flaws of these arguments, including the fact that arguments like these are part of the issue of sexism that Magic is dealing with.

    I just thought I’d cast my lot in with these ladies and state that they’re not alone.

    I started playing Magic back in Middle School on the East Coast. I got into it myself (thank-you-very-much), made friends with the kids in school who played, and forged some great friendships. It was mostly casual, because there were no stores or venues that held tournaments for miles and miles and miles so we played in houses, in the cafeteria, and took over one of the Biology classrooms after school to have our own tournaments. I knew the game, knew the mechanics, and loved it. Most of my friends played, and they ranged from guys who had just gotten into it and bought a started deck to a guy whose favorite deck included a Black Lotus. They were from multiple states along the Eastern Seaboard.

    Then I went to college in the Midwest. I met my Fiancee, he was Magic player. I thought, “cool, something else we have in common!” I met his friends, they were cool, they played Magic too, and he invited me to play with them.

    Within two weeks of entering college, I gave up Magic.

    It didn’t matter where they were- whether they played in the dorm lounge, a card shop, or a used book store, the second the cards touched their hands they became the most horrible people I had ever met. They were cruel, condescending, narcissistic, sexist, and vicious. One of the first times I played with them, I was killed out of a multiplayer game before I even got to take a turn because I was a woman, it was “funny” and they didn’t want to deal with a “weaker” player.

    I quit. I stopped playing, put my cards in storage, and swore that I was never going to play again.

    I recently started playing again with my fiancee and a handful of his friends. The group has changed some over the years, the guys have learned some manners (and even occasionally choose to use them) and we’ve moved to a new city and so have met some new folks as well. I’ve gone to tournaments and events at the LGS, and even played with my fiancee in a Two Headed Giant tournament there. I’ll play for hours with my Fiancee.

    But I won’t play without him. And I won’t step into a store without him. Because eighty-five percent of the people I meet playing Magic are still douchbags. I’m still ignored, or condescended, or ridiculed, and some really ambitious ass-hats can achieve all three in quick succession.

    I love the game- I love the intricacies of it, the competition, and the analysis of playing styles and card interactions, and the thrill when I make a play that makes a more seasoned player’s eyes bug out. I love winning ( I Really Really love winning).

    I don’t like the arrogance, the bullying, the condescension, the sexism, and the way too many seasoned players freeze out someone ‘new’. It’s a players problem, and its up to the players to fix.

  21. One thing I want to point out – a lot of comments talk about how the writer is going to make an effort to be more helpful to female players.

    We’re not all new.

    A few years ago, I was traveling on business and found a draft tournament in the town I was visiting. I showed up and had 3 of my 4 opponents try to explain some portion of basic game functionality. I responded to each the same way: I have been playing since 1994. I know how it works.

    Give us the benefit of the doubt, guys. Just play. Don’t be dbags, and we’ll all have a good time.

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