A Witch Among Wizards

I have been asked to share some of my experiences in the Magic community in order to raise awareness of the problems female players can face. Though the female population in Magic is growing, over all wizards still greatly outnumber witches. Unfortunately, we may be losing some of our sisters due to the community. This is a controversial subject I understand, but something that needs to be addressed. Please keep in mind this is my personal view, I cannot speak for every girl. Let’s get this out of the way so next time I can focus on all the reasons why I love Magic and the Community. While playing my goal is to keep a more positive tone. I try to always give the benefit of the doubt during a first encounter, but some things get way out of hand.

A few examples:

  • While complimenting the foils in my opponent’s deck, he offered to help me foil mine in exchange to come to his hotel room.
  • When playing with expensive or rare cards I have been asked who I sucked off to get them. (Lending cards to a guy friend is ok, but lending to a girl cannot happen without some form of physical reciprocation?)
  • Once I was mentally torn to shreds when my opponent realized I was taking the lead in game 3. What had started as a compliment on my chest tattoo, quickly became personal attacks stating the ink would keep me from being a suitable mother or finding approval from a potential partner. (I could be of course wrong, but I have never heard a male opponent slandered in a way to question his ability to be a future father or husband.)
  • And apparently the game of “Footsies” didn’t die in 3rd grade… in fact I have come to learn the game has indeed evolved.

I’ve been told I have no business playing Magic. I’ve been stalked, talked down to, mocked, and cheated because I am a girl. Not the normal bad game tilt, or enjoyable salt from a wounded opponent. But very deliberate personal attacks on me as a person, most of them being gender related. I will even get backlash from this article as well. Being no stranger from the internet or games I know there will be trolls. Over the years I have found even among trolls there is a code of honor. Having fun in an endless battle of wits. Then there are the brainless trolls that regurgitate the garbage just to enjoy the taste of acid, thou no one else does.

“Why don’t you call the judge?” Because I (and I would assume other girls this happens to), are terrified to be labeled as the girl who whined and called the judge… we are trying desperately to fit in and just play magic. Not wanting to cause waves because that will lead to more personal attacks. But this tolerance out of fear needs to be broken. A silent scream will lead to another silent scream. If your opponent is becoming unsportsmanlike with you please call a judge. Oh great magical wizards to whom hold honor high, I come before you in the name of Magic and ask for your help. Care for your sisters and please call a judge if you see or hear something that would ill represent the behavior of a wizard. Don’t let his foul casting taint the beauty of Magic.

Just sitting down can be stressful depending on the energy of my opponent. In the worst situations immediately I am sized up to be a girl and most likely bad. Probably playing a simple deck that her boyfriend lent her and she doesn’t know how to pilot. Already their patience is short, and I have idiot written across my forehead in their mind. Personally having anxiety and fear of looking stupid intensifies immensely. I’ve had opponents make up rules to cheat me. When I need to read a card sometimes I am met with short aggressive responses of hostile irritation, completely poisoning the game.

It’s only natural to be interested in someone who shares a hobby with you. So I understand when guys flirt. Bur during a match isn’t the time nor place. If anything I am more impressed with a man who keeps his cool and gives me good games. I am trying to focus. When we sit down realize I am your opponent. I’m not being dragged along by some boyfriend to play FNM. I didn’t pay this much to try and find a wizard. I am there to play. I am there to win.

“How do I get a Magic flinging babe to notice me without being weird?” Let your deck do the talking. During a match I am in the game. Pulling me out of the game with distracting conversation and flirting only makes the game less enjoyable. I don’t want to be a girl at that moment. I don’t want to say thank you when you compliment me. I want to slam Magic, I want to feel the cards power in my fingers and enjoy the battle we are in. To savor a sweet victory or try harder to win, but never giving up. The best thing you can do for her, is give her honest good games. It is why she is there, why she paid, why she has been play testing for so many hours. This is your chance to strut your stuff, to show her the power of a great wizard. If you’re winning, do so with grace. If you’re behind, don’t show it. You should never show your opponent you are behind.

After your match as you sign the results paper, thank her for the games. Wish her luck in the future just as you would any opponent. This is the time to talk (if she isn’t in a hurry). Discuss the match, offer advice (do so at your own risk, remember she is still an opponent and the advice may come back to bite you in a future match), but in the spirit of the game I think advice is always good for opponents. If there isn’t much time to talk, don’t sweat it. You haven’t missed your opportunity, and so far have accomplished setting yourself apart from some of the less pleasant people she has encountered. In between future matches is the best time to really establish a connection. Check with her about her record, share your matches. Really enjoying the energy and environment being at a magic event provides, sharing that with her is a good way to really bond. It is the perfect ambiance to start a friendship. Right after a match I personally am still in the game, going over all my mistakes and how to play better, so I’m not in the head-space of looking for a wizard. But once I have gone over my lines and dashed to get food I really enjoy making new friends among my fellow casters.

Realize the negative experiences I’ve had are rare in the Magic community as a whole. But it is something that happens. If I had to guess, these same players who have soured my games, have gone on to do the same to others regardless of gender.

Perhaps as a community we need to remember things:

  1. Treat a female opponent the same as any other opponent, with respect.
  2. Conduct yourself with honor, upholding the code of good sportsmanship.
  3. If you enjoy Magic, then show support to a new player. The Magic gods must have new blood to keep the game alive.
  4. Please call a judge if something is wrong. If that be a brother or sister mage under personal attack, or someone cheating the game. To try and claim victory in a dishonorable way is a shame to the heart of Magic.
  5. Take pride in your deck, of all the work you have put into the game. With that pride realize others have pride in their deck as well. Take care when shuffling and treat the property of others with respect.
  6. Have patience. Yes I understand some may play slow on purpose. But if your opponent is doing math or trying to honestly figure out their best line, have the courtesy to allow them that time. Realize your opponent doesn’t know all the ins and outs of your deck, so when they ask why, take the two seconds to explain that interaction. Or waste the 3 min it takes to get a judge involved, losing even more time.

Over all I really do love the Magic community. I have found most of my fellow casters to be welcoming and warm, excited to teach the craft of card slinging to another. The friends I have made have become close and their friendship valuable. I have taken to this crazy task of training as a witch with strong ambitions and dreams. Eager to learn and immerse myself in this great game.

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