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”.
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.
Posted on August 9, 2011, in Extras, Perilous Research, The Commander's Chair and tagged casual, Commander's Chair, Magic the Gathering, MTG, spawning pit, SwordsToPlow. Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.