Women In Magic: A Response to the SCG Article Fiasco

Five days ago, a great article was posted on StarCityGames.com.

It’s called Women In Magic: The Gathering, and it’s by Meghan Wolff. It’s definitely worth a read, so if you haven’t read it, go ahead and click the link. I’ll wait.

 

Now that you’ve read that fantastic work, I have another perspective for you. This one was also published on StarCityGames.com, but it was published yesterday. Spoiler: this one was written by a man. It’s called Women And Magic by Jim Davis.

 

If you noticed the weird URL, that’s because it was taken down yesterday. More on that later.

The next article to note was posted by Planeswalkers for Diversity, right here on WordPress! This one was written by Anastacia Tomson, and it is titled: Women and Magic: A Rebuttal. It is a response to Jim Davis’ article.

 

Finally, let’s examine the Apology that was issued by Cedric Phillips, the Online Content Coordinator for StarCityGames.com. This was posted after Jim’s article was removed from the site.

 

Are you sick of reading yet? I hope not, because this is an important topic that really needs to be addressed, and I’m just getting warmed up.

I loved Meghan’s article. She was articulate and expressed a lot of concerns that resonate with the female Magic community. She was able to convey our frustrations without complaining, and really laid out the problems for us. I didn’t entirely agree with absolutely everything she said, but 99.9% of it expressed exactly how it feels to enjoy this game from a female perspective. It’s fantastic that she wrote about this issue, because it really is an issue, and we cannot begin to address a problem unless we are all aware of it’s existence.

As for the response article by Jim, I was surprised that I actually liked the opening bit about South Park. I don’t typically watch the show, but this comparison was extremely relevant to the topic at hand, and I found that I liked the message. The rest of the article was….really good, actually. I agreed with what he said. In fact, if my match were chosen as a feature match just because of my gender, I would be just as offended as I am when people are surprised that I won the Game Day playmats that I use. (Of course I did, they are my playmats, after all).

No, the comments about Gerry Thompson’s were not at the same level as comments that are made about women, but it does point out that people tend to focus on appearances first, regardless of gender. I’m not saying that is right, I’m saying it happens.

Of course, comments made about women’s appearances in the world of gaming are much more sexual in nature and frequently highly inappropriate. These need to stop. So do the comments like those fueling #CrackGate.

Overall, I feel like Jim’s article was an interesting, valid perspective. It was not offensive to me at all. It furthered the discussion surrounding the original article and it should not have been taken down. Even if you don’t agree with what he said, that’s ok, because not everyone has to agree. He was not saying inflammatory things about the skill level of women who play Magic. He was trying to advocate for women’s equality. That’s admirable, even if you disagree with his perspective.

Now… that rebuttal. To be honest, I was ready to follow that blog when I saw the page. It’s welcoming, it’s concerning one of my favorite pastimes, the heading and subheading are things I can really get behind. Then I read the article.

I was more offended by Anastacia’s article than I was by any part of Jim’s. I understand it upset her, but I think she needs to try a little harder to understand someone’s view other than her own.

I agree that we should be treated with the same respect as men who play this game, but I don’t want special treatment either. Let the people who are qualified be visible, whether they are women or men. If you want more women in Magic, then, as Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see.”

She claims that Jim is “belittling and undermining” Meghan’s article, but that was not the intent at all. She makes him out to be some advocate against women, when he is just trying to further discussion about how to achieve equality. No need to get so offended.

In a perfect world, I don’t think Cedric should have needed to issue that apology. Of course, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to have this discussion in the first place.

 

Let me know what you guys think, and as always, feel free to share this post.

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How Important Is Winning?

Because I identify with Red, Blue, and Green, I’m sure you’ve already guessed that I have many contradictions and conflicts inherent in my personality. After all, Red and Blue are enemy colors with the Emotion vs. Intellect conflict, just as Blue and Green conflict over Nature vs. Nurture. Although I often take Green’s side of the U/G (Blue/Green) conflict, today I am going to side with Blue.

Everything you know how to do, you learned how to do at some point.

No one is born knowing how to speak, to read, to run. No one is even born knowing how to planeswalk. Sure, some people have a spark, some invisible trait inside them that one day may manifest itself, and others do not, but they have to learn how to use that ability. Untrained, it is the same thing as if they had never possessed the spark at all.

The same can be said of anything. All processes must be learned, even if an individual has a particular talent for something. Tom Brady, Stephen King, and Barack Obama were all babies once, and none of them knew how to throw a football, write a book, or inspire millions of people with one speech. They all learned their crafts.

Everyone starts as a beginner in Magic, too. This, of course, is the most difficult time because there is so much to learn. If you are skeptical of this, it is because you have never tried to teach someone how to play. Not only do you have to leave out strategy entirely when trying to understand the game, you also have to ignore most of the rules. Please don’t let this intimidate you, because the rules quickly become second nature, but trying to learn all of them at once will surely intimidate and frustrate the new player so much that they won’t have any fun, and will not care to play anymore.

Here lies my dilemma:

A few years ago, as I was reflecting upon my early childhood, I remembered how my parents and I used to have races in the backyard when I was about 4 years old. I suddenly realized that they had let me win! I had thought I had won those races fair and square and that I was actually faster than them! This sounds very funny to adults, but to my 4-year-old mind, it made perfect sense.

I am a very competitive person. I like to win, but I don’t want to win unfairly. The nice thing about Magic is that there is an element of luck and that sometimes the less skilled player will defeat the more skilled player. Now, more experienced players may protest that this is not a “nice thing,” especially when they lose, but it really is. The overwhelming majority of the time, the more skilled player will win, and if either player is paying attention at all, any significant gap in skill will be obvious. The “nice” part is that every now and again, the less skilled player will get just enough luck and the more skilled player will be just unlucky enough, that the less skilled player will triumph. This allows for a sense of encouragement and keeps less skilled players playing the game. This is extremely important, because nobody likes to lose, and people play Magic on their own volition. Without this tiny element of luck, there would not be enough players to fund the game. There would be no Pro Tour, no World Championship, no Modern Masters.

View original comic

View original comic at cardboard-crack.com

So I wonder to myself, when we eventually teach our daughter, Liliana, how to play, do we ever let her win? If not, do we go easy on her? Do we divide our duties and let only one of us lose games while the other remains undefeated? At 7 months old, she is already displaying signs of fierce independence and competitive spirit, and I don’t want to discourage her by winning everything all the time, but I wonder if it is dishonest to let her believe she won something by her own merits when she did not. I think I would feel like I would have lied to her. I would still want her to realize the mistakes that she would make so she could improve. Perhaps I should just let the luck of the game help her to a few victories at a time?

I’d like to know what you think. What do you do when teaching someone a new game? Do you let them win? Or perhaps you do something like this:

View original comic at http://cardboard-crack.com/post/77244144991/teaching

View original comic at cardboard-crack.com

If you like the comics in today’s post, be sure to check out their creator’s website: cardboard-crack.com.

Girls and Games: The Importance of Gender

I remember the first game I ever played on a Gameboy Color – Pokémon Red. For those who might not have played this game, it belongs to a group of games which started the long line of Pokémon games, and it revolves around the story of a young boy from Pallet Town. At the beginning of the game, you are asked to give your name and the name of your rival (which your rival’s grandfather somehow can’t remember). After this, there is a tutorial built into the storyline and you receive your first Pokémon, a little animal that will fight by your side. You then go on a lengthy adventure throughout the rest of the game, battling your rival and defeating gym leaders to earn badges. There’s admittedly a lot more to the storyline and gameplay than that, but that is the basic plot.

Like most children my age, I loved this game. In fact, I loved it so much that I have owned at least one of every generation of Pokémon games since then (they are always released in groups with slight variations between games.) I actually purchased a Nintendo 3-DS specifically so I could play the Generation V games (in French, no less!) with my husband, and I don’t regret it at all. These are my favorite video games.

However, the first group of games had one very obvious problem that it unfortunately shared with many games at the time: you could not chose to play as a girl.

This might not seem like a big deal. After all, it doesn’t actually affect the way that the game plays, does it?

Well, yes and no. No, of course it does not alter the story, the pokémon, the difficulty, or even the speed that your character walks. The program does not care at all whether or not your character has pigtails.

…But I’m willing to bet you do. Why? What’s a few more pixels anyway? Why does it matter how your character looks?

It matters because it is your identity. Because you get to pick your name at the beginning, it feels as if the game is asking you to consider your character as being an extension of yourself. It is asking you to put yourself into the game. As a girl, this is very hard to do when the character is a boy.

Conversely, if I play Kingdom Hearts (another fantastic game), I don’t mind playing as the main character, Sora, even though he is a boy. He is his own character, with his own story, and I am just following along. I don’t feel awkward because I know that he is not meant to be me at all.

When I play games like Pokémon Red, though, an awkward undertone follows me everywhere I go in the game. The fact that my character is not really mine reverberates through everything, distancing me from the world in which I would so like to immerse myself.

The creators of Pokémon, Nintendo, quickly realized their mistake and made a huge announcement when they released the next generation of games. This time, players could choose to be girls. I remember being so excited. I suddenly felt so included – this game was meant for me to play too!

It’s funny still, because it shouldn’t really matter, but it does. When the way others see me matches with the way I see myself, the harmony this creates resonates throughout my being.

This is why there are more girls who like gaming now than ever before. With the rise of awareness of this previously neglected audience, companies have made a concerted effort to depict strong women of great character and more realistic clothing in their games. Of course, they are still attractive women, and sometimes there are exaggerated parts, but it is clear that there is a serious effort put forth to include women in games.

Take the card, Banisher Priest, for instance.

This is one strong chick. Not only is she modest, she is also a strong card. She is elegant and attractive and guess what? She doesn’t even need to wear completely useless armor like a metal thong!

Her gender doesn’t affect the way that the card plays or how good it is, but it does promote respect towards women in a community that doesn’t always acknowledge the equality of both sexes. There are so many examples like this now, but every now and then we still see fantasy art like this:

Not only does this outfit make no sense in any practical way, it is extremely revealing. Sure, she’s casting a spell. I understand that she’s doing something instead of just sitting there and looking pretty, but that doesn’t mean she has to wear a suit of armor designed in a torture chamber to make up for her magical prowess.

Thankfully, this kind of art has fallen by the wayside, and games (both digital and physical) are constantly finding new ways to connect with women. When over half of the super cool Dragonlords on Tarkir are female, it makes me feel included in the same way that being able to play a video as a female character makes me feel like that game was intended for me. It makes me feel empowered and respected.

This leads me to another thought. If I feel wrong playing a video game in which I am forced to play as a boy, is that how other people feel in real life sometimes? Take Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, for instance. You can read more about her story here.