Friday, March 18, 2011

Girls Girls Girls

There's a whole lot of stir going on about this article that talks about the gender gap in Magic.  A lot of folks seem to be putting their two cents in, si I figured I'd join in.
Honestly, I feel like some great points were made, but there's also a whole lot of overreaction going on.  For example,
"Michael Patcher, an analyst for Wedbush Morgan, told Forbes in 2009 that “. . . the biggest obstacle to growing the female gaming community is the trash talk that goes on in the online area.” With face-to-face still the main mode for Magic card-slinging, the effect can only be more intimidating to women trying to pick up Magic. The game has an important social element, and if it is to continue to thrive, its players must create a welcoming atmosphere for newcomers of all stripes—not stoop to comparing penis size across the table."
Yeah, seems like a great point on the surface... until you realize it's the same one from in this comment.
For example, I recently won game day with a home brewed deck. There were three guys in a row that blamed top decking for my win. Two of those guys lost a later round as well (against another male player) while I was sitting near by and didn't tell that opponent he'd top decked; one previous opponent praised the deck he lost to and the other pointed out a misplay he'd done a few turns earlier.
So, you won with a jank homebrew and half of your opponents called it luck?  Yeah, sounds like normal behavior for Magic players.  People aren't treating you differently; in fact it's just the opposite.  I'd say that anyone that walks into a store for the first time, plays an event, and is reacted to just like they had been playing there for months, is most definitely accepted within the community.

The main problem with females getting into magic has nothing to do with the male community accepting them- we most definitely will.  The problem is the female confusing acceptance with being treated differently.  If one would just look around at a magic event and take a look at how players interact with each other, and then look at her anecdotal experience and that of several others posted within comments, all of them are immediately treated as tournament regulars, if anything moreso than their male counterparts.  Unfortunately, they're a bit busy posting angry comments on Magic strategy sites to realize that fact.  A shame, really.

It's funny that the big reason why females won't get into magic is that females haven't gotten into magic.  The male-dominated community rarely ever takes things seriously, and most consider over-the-top trash talk to be just joking around (see name of site).  If there were females in the game and doing that kind of thing all over the place, then newer females will take it as joking around and not as discrimination like they do now.

Honestly though, the bottom line is, who really cares?  Magic may be a social game, but it's still a game, and like it or not it's hard to find to find active females in it.  This isn't anything new, folks.  So called studies that say that anywhere between 28% and 40% of gamers are girls, that's a load of bull.  Those studies are looking at the demographics for Farmville and Mafia Wars, not Final Fantasy or Modern Warfare.  Despite what people would like for you to believe, the gaming market is still 90% male when it comes to serious business.  And that's because of the same reason that repels females from magic.

Take any online game out there, Team Fortress 2, for example.  I'm playing, for like an hour, joking around with 7-8 guys on the server with mics.  We're trash talkin' each other,  blowing each other up, and just having a good time.  Then a girl joins and says hi.  We say hi.  We keep doing what we're doing.  One of two things is bound to happen within the next ten minutes.  A. they get killed and/or trash talked, think it's discrimination, and leave, or B. they join in on the conversation and eventually become 'a part of the gang'.  That server gets usually 12,000 unique steam accounts logged into it every month, and I can count the number of active female players with mics with a single hand, so go ahead and guess which happens more often.  I'm sure there's more females playing there, but they keep themselves hidden just because they're afraid of the discrimination that they've made believe in their heads will happen.

The cure?  Stop obsessing over it.  The mere fact that people are discussing this is just another thing drilling the discrimination line into their heads.  It's the same thing with black people and MLK speeches/rap.  The emphasis on black power is just reinforcing the idea that racism is still a big issue, which it isn't.  It's just a bunch of douches treating black people normally and those black people thinking they're being treated differently 'because they're black'.  I don't see why there's an obsession over making female gamers a predominant part of the community anyways.  I mean, since Magic is a social game, changing that social atmosphere will make as many players leave as it will join, possibly more.  After all, many Magic players use FNM as a reprieve; a haven safe from their moms/girlfriends/wives, so inviting them to play at the events will do nothing but make life miserable for them.  The fact is that no matter what special actions people take to try and recruit female players, only the B. ones will stick with it; only the girls that don't overreact to what Magic players say anyways.  And those players are ones that will find Magic on their own, not ones that are dragged into the game by other people.  So leave it alone, and just let things take their course.


  1. I agree that there is a lot of trash talking that goes on in magic, but a lot of it is playful, and this does seem to scare off female players unless they know how to get in the middle and trash talk back. In fact, at my local store we have a girl that a lot of guys are afraid of because she is really good at trash talking and she has a death stare like no other. With that combination, unless you know her personally, it's next to impossible to know if she's being playful or not. (95% of the time it's playful though.)

  2. My local comic shop has a monthly Legacy tournament. Due to my work schedule my wife didn't get to spend a lot of time with me. What do these two things have in common? My wife not only learned to play magic. She learned to play MONO RED LEGACY GOBLIN.

    Now the shop guys ask me how she is doing. They ask when the next time she will be coming through to sling some cards. The best part of it all? She has now won 4 of 13 monthly tournaments. Can I get her to play standard? Nope. Will she shuffle up a play set of Goblin Lackeys and Piledrivers? Oh Yeah.

    Women play magic. Girls play magic. We don’t have to change the game. We don’t have to reach out. Female players who want to play will learn how to. Magic players will grow older. They will have daughters. There is coming a time when women will be winning pro tours and holding up trophies. Then Magic will ask, how do we stop women running rough shot over their male opponents.