#NotAllManLands

The Magic community on Twitter recently revisited a discussion on what to call lands that can turn into creatures (e.g. Shambling Vent, Mutavault, Mishra’s Factory). Traditionally these had been called “man lands,” a semi-rhyming slang that has become fairly entrenched in the community.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa asked his female twitter followers whether the name bothered them, particularly when translating ‘manland’ to Portuguese make a feminine phrase.  Most said it did not, but many recognized there was something to it and some questioned posing the question this way.  It is important to realize that people can recognize things maybe aren’t optimal, and there is a need to improve, without it greatly affecting them in one direction or another.

The responses in favor of “manlands” broke down into three broad categories: (1) tradition, i.e. “We’ve always called them that.” (2) aesthetics, i.e. “Manland just sounds better.” or (3) semantics, i.e. “Man stands for human and is not gender exclusive.”

In truth, all three of these ultimately seem to collapse into the first.  Aesthetics, aside from being subjective, are more likely to grow out of familiarity more than any inherent virtue of the older name.

The semantic argument is also rooted in tradition. In older English style manuals, the male gender is prescribed default and it has indeed been used as a stand in for “Human” in traditional texts. However, on issues of inclusivity, appealing to tradition is rarely useful. After all, the very issue being addressed is the traditional lack of inclusiveness, so looking to the past is not a useful guidepost. It’s also worth noting that, other than Mutavault, none of the lands become Humans.

The last response that came up fairly often was, “Who cares?” Ultimately, as a poll on MTGDiversity’s own twitter showed, most of the participants (55% of 96 respondents) felt it was a small issue but a worthwhile one. But there’s room for a lot of space between “The Biggest Deal Ever” and “Literally Irrelevant.”

Ultimately, you aren’t being inherently sexist and likely aren’t directly offending someone if you say “manland”. But it’s also not discriminatory or offensive to cross your arms and sit silently when a new person enters your Local Game Store. Still, making this small change is a gesture toward inclusivity, a show of good faith, and a relatively low cost way to remove a small barrier to entry for those that the name does bother.

https://twitter.com/MagicSonnets/status/702510471337918464

Instead of “manland” consider saying “creature land.” If you don’t like that, the MtG community has no shortage of quirky nicknames for things, so try lanimals, elementalands, ani-lands, critter land, or your own non-gendered way of referring to our animating land friends.

It can certainly be said that the Magic Community can and will adapt to change, it just has to be a unified effort.  Trying these alternate names on could be as simple as using them at FNM for an evening and getting people to discuss it more in depth.  Being an advocate for such change in your local community can change the community at large and make various people feel more included.

 

Thank you to Renee Hupp from Card Confidants for contributing to this article. 

Women and Magic: A Rebuttal


The post below was written by Anastacia Tomson in response to StarCity Games article on Women in Magic, itself a reply to an article by Meghan Woff.


I don’t even know where to start with this. I have a nagging suspicion that my efforts might be completely fruitless, because I have had countless discussions just like this in my local Magic group, and they have all largely headed in the same direction.

But nonetheless, I am going to take the time to type out a systematic and articulate response to your article. I’d like to preface this by saying that I read your article word-for-word, top-to-bottom. I became emotional, upset and sometimes downright livid, but I’m nonetheless making a point of replying calmly and respectfully, and I hope that I will be afforded the same dignity.

You open with a scenario from South Park. I will not go into the merits of referencing South Park when making any kind of social commentary. But the gist of the argument according to your transcript is this: The children seemed like they were being racist but didn’t know it because they were blind to race, so we forgive them or even congratulate them, and carry on.*

The fact of the matter is that behaviour that is oppressive remains oppressive irrespective of the motives behind that behaviour. I do believe that the correct approach is to try to educate as to why the behaviour is wrong rather than simply becoming indignant and belligerent about it. But please remember that oppression, whatever the motivation, hurts people.

Your argument here, if I follow, is that by addressing these inequalities, we are creating more prejudice, or “widening the gap”. And I will retort by saying that you are widening that gap, perhaps because you have become defensive after reading Meghan’s article.

You state that you and Meghan share a common goal, but you set about explaining systematically why she is wrong in pursuing that goal. The primary problem here is that you address this matter from a position of privilege.

Your first argument is against the necessity to have women in positions that are visible, in terms of coverage, feature matches and so on. What you have failed to realise here is that gender is an issue. For years and years, the coverage booth has been staffed exclusively by men, because that is the expectation that society has. The goal is equality between genders, but we are starting from a point that is already heavily biased in favour of males. In Magic, people should indeed be recognised by their merits, but do not forget that achievement is informed by opportunity, and opportunity while abundant for men, is far less so for women.

We are not asking for special dispensation – what we are asking for is representation. And this is particularly pertinent with regards to your comment about saying that there may “some day” be a woman in a coverage position. There may not be many positions available, but the fact is that although we play the game, we do not enjoy the same luxury of representation that you do. And this is the kind of inequality that should be addressed rather than left to sort itself out on its own at some arbitrary point in the future.

What are the criteria for having a match featured live on camera, exactly? Those matches are selected for a number of reasons, and often the position of the players on the standings is not primary amongst them – very easily proven by virtue of that Table 1 is not always featured in coverage. So why is it sexist to suggest that representation should be a factor in considering which matches are featured?

You preface your response to “Girlfriendification” by saying that you are male and the problems do not directly affect you, so this already lessens all the arguments that follow. You have indeed not experienced these phenomena for yourself, and to argue that they do not exist because you have not personally experienced or witnessed them is naive.

You then argue that as your girlfriend becomes more proficient at the game, she will be regarded as an individual on her own merits rather than as an extension of your own presence. The implication here is that by default, she undergoes girlfriendification until she earns the right not to. When you began playing Magic, was your very presence at an event undermined? Did anyone say “Oh you’re Joe Schmoe’s friend?”. I imagine it is more likely that from the outset you were judged according to your own merits or lack thereof.

Then you give examples of incidents where she did in fact experience sexism. Firstly, you laud her for laughing off these occurrences. If it did not faze her, that is well and good, and more power to her. But it is not a praiseworthy thing for a woman to ignore these kind of comments. The implication here again is that if she is perturbed by it, that is a weakness. In the first instance, she should not even be subjected to that kind of treatment – if she is, it is unfair to blame her for not being able to ignore it.

The argument that “some people are going to be jerks” no matter what is a poor one. Of course it is unacceptable to be rude or discriminatory to anyone, on any basis. But again, acknowledge the reality that women are subjected to this more often than men. Even in the instance of someone who is a “natural born jerk”, that individual is more likely to behave inappropriately towards a woman than towards anyone else, because it is perceived as being more acceptable.

Of course we should actively discourage people from being jerks, and we should work together towards this goal – I do not think anyone would dispute that. But I do take issue with your second point. It’s all well and good to say that we should speak up when we are being oppressed, but this is very typical victim-blaming – what you must try to realise is that even if she is the victim of harassment or disrespect, a woman may not necessarily feel safe in calling it to the attention of an authority figure!

Put yourself in her position for a moment – she has just been insulted on the basis of her gender by an obnoxious player, and seated all around her are a bunch of that player’s friends. How comfortable do you think she would feel in calling the TO or a judge? Don’t blame her for “letting a few jerks ruin… [her] hobby” – blame the jerks for trying to ruin it in the first instance.

You’ve used an example of Gerry Thompson’s hair to compare the body shaming that men undergo with that which women experience. Sure, there are a batch of people ripping on Gerry about his hairstyle. None of them talk about him being f— worthy. None of them are catcalling him. The “nom” pales in comparison to the abusive remarks leveled routinely at women. The salient point here is that we are not arguing that men are never victim to body-shaming – but that it is often far more pervasive, and far more abusive in nature, when it is directed at women. As soon as a female player is on the screen, she is scrutinised according to the standards of acceptability imposed upon her by the male gaze, which again makes every aspect of her existence secondary to her physical appearance as judged by men. Surely it is clear that is problematic?

Meghan’s article was written with the best intentions, but you are belittling and undermining her. You are criticising her for not doing enough to elicit real change, when she has patiently and considerately articulated some very real challenges and concerns that women in Magic face. Creating awareness and starting conversations is part of the process of initiating change – and your entire article illustrates this, as you show how you, and I am sure countless others, have not yet grasped the severity of the problem. Some even deny its existence as a whole. And again, your straw-man argument that women are asking for “special treatment” is what is actually misleading here. The environment as it stands in Magic is heavily skewed towards male benefit – your entire point about “weak” woman in a “strong” man’s world is evidence of this. We want no preferential treatment – what we want is safety and an environment free of oppression. And here’s a little tip – if it’s an environment in which women aren’t harassed, it will also be one in which men aren’t harassed – now that is true equality.

Respect is earned in any community. But that is not a valid argument to the point that in this community, women start off receiving less respect at the baseline than men do. And I hope you will be able to understand that.


The original article, to which this was written as a response, has been pulled from the site on which it was originally published though an online archive is available and screenshots are included below.

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SCG Article Jim Davis Women in Magic 1 SCG Article Jim Davis Women in Magic 2 SCG Article Jim Davis Women in Magic 3 SCG Article Jim Davis Women in Magic 4 SCG Article Jim Davis Women in Magic 5 SCG Article Jim Davis Women in Magic 6 SCG Article Jim Davis Women in Magic 7 SCG Article Jim Davis Women in Magic 8

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* Editor’s note: The noted sentence originally read “The children were being racist, and they didn’t know they were being racist, so we forgive them for being racist and allow them to continue, and no one has been hurt.” which can be easily misunderstood as not accurately reflecting the original article by Davis. The point was that the behaviour by the kids in the story is still racist in impact regardless of the intent being pure due to their blindness to race. The sentence was re-worded to avoid this potential confusion.

Khinky’s Boots #4

Welcome to Khinky’s Boots, a weekly column where your resident know-it-all dispenses indispensable advice to everyone from Planeswalkers to Pegasi.

Our contributor is Khin Kyaw, a flavour text enthusiast, fashion nerd and inveterate science fiction fan from Johannesburg. She blogs about freedom and frugality at Osprey’s Lab and explores the South African MTG community at Manabond ZA.

The Multiverse has 99 problems… Khinky is in no way qualified to fix any of them, but it never hurts to try. In today’s column: merfish, lotuses and inventors.

kioraDear Khinky

All my life I’ve had a problem with seamen – they have a habit of suddenly exploding on the scene when I least expect it. The worst part is, I can never see it coming. Oh, and things have been heating up with Thassa lately so it would be nice to have some privacy! What can I do to keep the seamen at bay? (I’ve tried feeding them to my Kraken but she doesn’t like the taste.)

XOXO
Kiora, the Crashing Wave

Dear Kiora

The seamen situation seems to be a case of fated infatuation on their part. Unfortunately I don’t have too much experience in dealing with this kind of thing but the Sirens are world-renowned experts. Why don’t you pay them a visit?

All the best
Khinky

P.S. Send my love to Thassa (and also, I totally called it!)

ablDear K

I am so stressed out. My $ value is reaching epic heights, I never have the chance to socialise and I have not been out of a sleeve in decades. And what with the counterfeits running around, I feel like it could all come crashing down at any moment. I’m just tense and worried all the time, not sure what to do!

From
Alpha Black Lotus

Dear ABL

You have what I’d call a 1st Edition problem. Maybe you just need time to chill and enjoy life again. Why not get out of the vault, unsleeve yourself and spend an evening on the beach with a mojito? Take it easy. If you’re not careful you may end up like Blacker Lotus, who caved under the pressure and went to pieces.

Love
K

archibaldTo whom it may concern

It is with great pride that I introduce to you and your readership a momentous advancement in artificial wing design. Gone are the days of wax and feathers! My innovative manufacturing process utilises a lightweight and only slightly flammable paper-based compound, making bothersome melting a thing of the past.

You are hereby invited to witness a demonstration of this groundbreaking discovery, wherein I, Impetuous Archibald Sunchaser, shall catch the sun itself!

Dear Archie

That’s nice. What do you plan to do with the sun once you catch it?

Love
Khinky

Khinky’s Boots #3

Welcome to Khinky’s Boots, a weekly column where your resident know-it-all dispenses indispensable advice to everyone from Planeswalkers to Pegasi.

Our contributor is Khin Kyaw, a flavour text enthusiast, fashion nerd and inveterate science fiction fan from Johannesburg. She blogs about freedom and frugality at Osprey’s Lab and explores the South African MTG community at Manabond ZA.

The Multiverse has 99 problems… Khinky is in no way qualified to fix any of them, but it never hurts to try. In today’s column: fame, friendship and a Cyclops.

totallylost Khinky,

Explain to me please how our dear friend Fblthp got to be so famous. Everywhere I go it’s “Fblthp this” and “Fblthp that.” And he gets plushies. Not even Nicol Bolas gets plushies. Fame should not come this easy to an eyeball with arms!

Annoyed,
Storm Crow

Hey Storm Crow

Sounds to me like you’re jealous, and green is definitely not your colour. Sure everybody loves Fblthp but that doesn’t mean we love you any less. You’re practically an institution! I dunno, maybe just try to be happy for the guy? He has a hard enough time as it is…

xx
Khinky

P.S. If it will make you feel better I know someone who can make a custom Storm Crow plushie just for you!

satyrhedonistDear Khinky

My band of satyrs is pretty cool and we have a lot of fun. Recently I got a girlfriend and sometimes she brings her friends around and we all hang out. But, they all seem to have a problem with one of my buddies, Satyr Hedonist, and once I overheard them calling him the C word! (“Creepy”)

OK so he makes a lot of jokey sexual comments and maybe dances too close to the ladies during our drunken revelries, and now they never want to come over. I think he’s a good guy at heart. He’s an old friend but she’s my only (ever) girlfriend! What am I supposed to do now?

From
Satyr Rambler

Heya Rambler

I’m going to give Satyr Hedonist the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is merely a lonely (and horny), awkward dude with good intentions. Even then, it’s clear that he either does not understand boundaries or does not respect them. He’s obviously rubbing folks up the wrong way…

Guess what, your buddy probably values your opinion! Next time he does something inappropriate, don’t laugh it off. Even saying something as simple as “That’s not cool,” might be enough to get the point across. If he still doesn’t get it, you could talk to him in private.

Of course, he is responsible for his own actions. But by keeping quiet you’re actually saying that his behaviour is acceptable and OK. (Pop quiz! Is his behaviour acceptable and OK? Hint: the answer is no.)

Yours in hope,
Khinky

polis crusherHey yo K!

I got a bad reputation for stepping on poleis. Not always on purpose since I can’t really see the ground from up here. Also tripping a lot, and not in a good way – my depth perception could be better. 

Suggestions much appreciated.
Polis Crusher

Hey Crusher

The poleis should be trying to accommodate you… but there are things you can do. Have you tried contact lenses? I hear Urza makes some good ones!

K

The Magic Diversity Challenge – A New Year’s Resolution

This guest article is by Charles Featherer who blogs about Magic. He has a challenge for all of us for 2014:

My regular readers know me as a father who is raising two young men and that I’ve found a meaningful way to connect with my younger son through Magic the Gathering. I can’t help but look at the Magic Community from the perspective of a parent and how it will impact on my younger son’s development. Most of the time, I see what every gamer sees – a wonderfully supportive environment full of learning and social interaction. Other times, I see or hear about a behavior that isn’t as supportive. This article isn’t about pointing a finger at behavior that we find unacceptable. Rather, it is about two wonderful groups that have taken it upon themselves to help build awareness within our community, spread the good word about the benefits of diversity in gaming, and ultimately, a challenge to every person in our community who has a chance to influence it for the better.

Traditionalists believe that you should start every new year with a resolution to improve yourself or some aspect of the world you inhabit. Many people with special interests tend to make resolutions that focuses on their area of interest. Today, I’m going to share with you my resolution for 2014 in the area of Magic the Gathering. I’m doing so in the hopes that after you read this, you’ll adopt it for yourself. I doubt everyone will who reads this article will do so – people think resolutions are silly for a host of reasons.

If you have the fortitude to step over the line in the sand with me, you’ll make a difference to the way we all interact with our community for the better. If think you have what it takes, then read on as I introduce two wonderful people to you: Tifa Robles (@TifaRobles and on Tumblr: Adventures of a Lady Planeswalker) of the Lady Planeswalkers Society and Trevor Murdock of Planeswalkers for Diversity.

::::Q&A::::

Question: Would you both take a moment to introduce yourselves and explain how you became involved in Magic?

Tifa: I’ve been playing video games and family board games my entire life. Games have always been a passion and inspiration of mine. In college, I started playing strategy games, starting my addiction with Settlers of Catan and learning games of all types. Eventually, I started working at a board game store where not only did my collection and knowledge grow rapidly, but I was introduced to Magic tournaments. I fell in love with the atmosphere and the excitement of the new release of M11 before I even learned the game itself. It wasn’t long before my boss sat me down and taught me the basics in a Winston draft (not my recommended learning tool). My spark was instantly ignited. I started competing heavily within my first month, and it wasn’t until then that I realized the sexism integrated in the Magic community. I had loved the friendly people in my shop, but once I was sitting across the table from them as opposed to selling them cards behind the counter, their attitudes took a turn for misogyny. Suddenly, it was considered silly for me to think I could be good at Magic and conversations about my breasts were completely acceptable to have right in front of me. I competed in a GP, and not much later a few PTQs. I never did very well, but I worked hard. I wanted to prove to all those critics and judgmental bigots that women could be competitive and could succeed in the Magic scene. I was also judged by my looks and the clothes I wore A LOT! It was disgusting. After nine months, I was near the end of my college career and needed to find a real job. I was very interested in work at Wizards of the Coast and had a friend recommend me for Customer Service/Game Support. I worked there during my last three months of college and six months later was hired onto the Magic Brand Team. It was a great opportunity that taught me a lot about Magic, the community, and myself. But recently, after two years on the team, I left to help grow LPS more than I could with the constraints of being a Wizards employee. LPS is now a global organization with nearly twenty chapters that have started nationwide, constantly gaining national attention from many media outlets, that only now I can be involved with.

Trevor: I actually started playing Magic in the ‘90s, the way it was intended: while friends were creating role-playing game characters. After my playgroup went separate for various reasons, I was left with a single deck (featuring pestilence rats and pestilence) and no one to play with. Several years later, when my oldest daughter started being interested in card and board games, I nabbed a Guildpact Izzet Gizmometry theme deck so we could play. Eventually my daughter lost interest but I found a casual playgroup. One of the members suggested I check out the competitive scene to help the group deal with M10 rules changes. After FNMs, drafts, and one pre-release later, I was  hooked. After becoming an FNM regular and then interested in PTQs and GPs, I started Booster Victim as a way to poke fun at the steep learning curve in Magic. What started out as humour led to a serious interest in making Magic more accessible to everyone.

Q: What event made you realize that you needed to create your group and how old is your group now?

Tifa: It wasn’t until female friends of mine showed an interest in learning and playing at my house, away from the men who knew how to play in our lives, that I realized the desire and need for a female-friendly group.The group started in April 2011 and moved into an official capacity in stores in July 2011.

Trevor: I had just started following some Magic folks on Twitter in late 2012 because of Booster Victim, when a trans player, Feline Longmore, won the SCG Seattle Legacy Open, and it was the online onslaught of disgusting (and irrelevant) comments about her gender and her being trans that led me to search for some kind of LGBT support group for Magic players. I just assumed such a thing would exist given how large the Magic community is. When I couldn’t find one, I started a Facebook group. I didn’t know about LPS at that time and when someone pointed out that it already existed I asked Tifa if I should shut down the group and invite people over to LPS. Instead she actually encouraged us to maintain a separate presence and grow it into more than just a Facebook group; she understood that we would have a wider reach by operating both groups and collaborating.

Q: What about your personal background made you feel you were the right person to start your respective organizations?

Tifa: I have always been deeply passionate and caring about equality – especially when relating to gender issues. Not that I feel it is required, but my background in feminism helps my personal determination push LPS forward. I feel like I understand the deep undertones of sexism and the importance of awareness. Awareness is the first step to progress. Plus, my experience with Magic is varied in a wide range. I was a store employee at tournaments; a participant in tournaments in many levels; an employee at Wizards in two different, very important roles; and I was friends with people in all levels of play from beginner through Pro. I’ve also always enjoyed event organizing and feel I’m a natural leader. Plus, the sexism and mockery of my group has only pushed me harder because of how relevant and necessary my group is, instead of discouraging me to slow down.

Trevor: Honestly, I don’t think I’m the right person to be leading Planeswalkers for Diversity. I think I was one of the right people to co-found it but I hope that in 2014, we garner enough attention to attract new leadership. I do have a lot of experience running (and forming) other non-profit groups though, and I knew I could draw on that and be persistent enough to put in place the building blocks of an organization that will have a big and lasting impact on environments in which Magic is played. For LGBT issues in particular, I am a resource person with the Positive Space Network at the University of Victoria. I co-lead workshops to train other resource persons, so I also have some experience specifically in creating safe spaces to draw from. I think that helped give me a good grounding to express what I am passionate about, which is all about places where Magic is played being inclusive to everyone, not just people of a particular gender, age, race, ability, sexuality, or anything else that has nothing to do with playing a competitive trading card game!

Q: How would a Magic player become involved with supporting your group?

Tifa: It’s as simple at spreading the word in a positive light, joining our group, liking our page, following my twitter, etc. If you want to make a bigger impact, there is always the option of starting a local chapter, but this takes a huge time commitment that not everyone can commit to. More than anything, we just want to be acknowledged and accepted as a serious group and part of the community.

Trevor: Ditto, though I would also add that we are open to writers for our website at and to people joining our stream team.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing our Community?

Tifa: Being comfortable with what has been acceptable for years and not wanting to change. Everyone has to change. Even people who are not acting or speaking offensively need to call others out on their behavior. This can be scary and seem hopeless, but it really is the only way. Just think, in 5, 10, 20, 100 years, we will all look back at this and know which side was in the right. I don’t think anyone looks back at the 1800s and says, “We never should have given women the right to vote. What a mistake.” At least those that do aren’t taken seriously.

Trevor: There is an insidious and deeply ingrained attitude that goes like this: “I’m not actually a woman hating homophobe myself so I can say rape jokes or ‘that’s so gay’ and it’s fine because I don’t mean ill will towards anyone by it.” And as Tifa says, even those who aren’t comfortable with this attitude because they know it makes the environment too intimidating or uncomfortable for some people are often afraid to speak up because they don’t want to be seen as a party pooper. The analogy I like to make though is with that of judges. Often judges tell us things we don’t want to hear, and rulings that favour your opponent can suck. But, the presence of judges is vital to maintaining the overall fun level of the game vs. Magic event devolving into a gnarled mass of heated rules arguments. In my book, failing to speak up about non-inclusive language is just like spectating a game and failing to speak up about an illegal play.

Q: What is the biggest challenge facing your respective organization’s growth?

Tifa: Being understood and accepted. We are often considered “sexist” ourselves before people even know what we are. We are not an exclusive club for women only. In fact 60-70% of our player-base is male – mostly husbands, boyfriends, fathers, and brothers, but also friends. In addition, we need to be taken seriously. For example, some competitive players refuse to play at LPS because we are welcoming to “beginners” but we really want all skill groups playing together. We have a member who placed second at a PTQ and many others who are very competitive and really good at the game, and we also have women who are just learning almost every week. We don’t want any woman to say, “That group is not for me,” before they try it out at least twice (since attendance can vary drastically).

Trevor: Our biggest challenge is the same in terms of being understood and accepted, but it looks a little different for us. Although our mandate is broad and about inclusiveness in Magic for everyone, we tend to have an LGBT focus because after women this is the biggest target group for discrimination in the Magic community, and LPS already exists with a spotlight on women. Sometimes this comes across as if we think racism and other forms of discrimination are less important than homophobia, bi-phobia, and trans-phobia (not to mention the fact that LGBT itself is shorthand). Many of our volunteers are not members of the LGBT community themselves and sometimes get accused of being politically correct or “white knighting” which is a pretty ridiculous and off base insult to lob at people who just want to make Magic more enjoyable for more people.

Q: How has the Magic community responded to your groups? Has the response surprised you in any way?

Tifa: It has surprised me on both ends of the spectrum. There has been A LOT of positive response, including articles and interest from well-known writers and commentators in the community, a chapter started and supported by members of LoadingReadyRun, and many Magic-celebs that have even attended LPS when they are in Seattle. I’m constantly grateful for this loving support and hope it continues to grow. Unfortunately, the reverse side has been just as strong. There are a lot of people who consider us sexist (as mentioned before), stupid, ridiculous, and even the most annoying and demeaning of descriptions: adorable. The forum pages I have found have sickened me with anger, but that means we just need to work harder to crush their opinions and prove them wrong.

Trevor: Similarly, I’ve been surprised at how readily several pros have been willing to donate their time and energy to joining us on stream, giving us short interviews for our “Peek” series, and spreading information about us. On the reverse side, the fact that so many people think it’s more important to use language they consider funny than be sure they are not contributing to a toxic playing environment can be discouraging. I’m also disappointed that we only have a handful of local playgroups so far, though I’d rather have a few very successful and impactful groups than a pile of floundering ones. At least we span multiple continents with our small number of groups: currently the biggest local P4D chapter is actually in Australia. Someone needs to dethrone them!

Q: Since starting your groups, who has been your biggest supporter?

Tifa: As silly as it is to say, my husband. He has not only supported all of my desires for the organization, but challenged and motivated me to go further. It was his idea to start a second chapter in the Seattle area (on the Eastside). In addition, he attends every event with me and makes sure I stay fed and hydrated as I host the tournament. He also helps teach at conventions and constantly gains members and support from big names on Twitter. Without him, LPS wouldn’t be what it is today.

Trevor: Aside from co-founder Nelson Salahub, I would have to say Tifa, actually. Without her I think P4D would have just been a Facebook group that I started hoping someone would take over. I probably would have given up on it without her encouragement and her setting an example with LPS of how much can be accomplished with some persistence to providing some leadership.

Q: Diversity is a watchword that appears to be gaining popularity in recent years. Why do you think it has become such an important topic?

Tifa: It’s part of our cultural evolution to critique our society and make it better. As equality becomes more normal and expected in places like the working world, this will spread into other spaces as well, like hobbies and lifestyles.

Trevor: Specific to the gaming community in particular, we tend to be people who were outcast in some way growing up ourselves and we tend to be people who understand the value of constructive criticism. So it’s just bound to happen that someone is going to point out the severe ironic hypocrisy of being hateful towards others because of some external thing about them that has nothing to do with gaming.

Q: If you could fix one problem, address one shortfall, or focus on one aspect of our Community – and do so through the actions of your group – what would it be? Is there something that is a close second?

Tifa: I just don’t want my Magic skills, or anyone else’s for that matter, judged based on my genitals, face, or any other unrelated feature. I want my Magic skills to speak for themselves.

Trevor: Ditto! We just focus more on the “unrelated” part, especially LGBT-ness.

Q: Have either of you run into any unexpected opposition to your group?

Tifa: I expected opposition, but some of the extreme opposition has been shocking. Mostly the crazy far-fetched conclusions about my intentions or my group’s views.

Trevor: Honestly, I’m less surprised by opposition than underwhelmed by support. I don’t want to diminish all of the support we have gotten, and we have a handful of incredible volunteers who have made massive contributions to the organization so far. But from the broader Magic community, putting myself in the position of being a Tournament Organizer, or running a Magic-related website, etc. and coming across this group, I sort of think we should be overwhelmed by folks asking to help us out. Obviously I’m biased in being passionate about this an important cause or I wouldn’t have started it, but I’m hoping people just didn’t know about us and will start coming out of the woodwork to support our mission in 2014.

Q: What do you have planned for 2014?

Tifa: Bigger, better exposure.

Trevor: Actual real life presence in events, more diversity-and-Magic themed content on our website, and regular streaming. Tangible goal for 2014 is by the end of the year, I’d like it to be commonplace to see Planeswalkers for Diversity (and Lady Planeswalkers Society) t-shirts at Grand Prix and on Pro Tour coverage, and for major events to have members of their welcoming booths trained in creating safe spaces for women, people of colour, LGBT-folk, and people with disabilities. We are off to a good start with an invitation from the organizers of GP Sacramento coming up shortly. Now we just need some volunteers!

Q: Every leader has a vision. Where do you see your group in 5 years?

Tifa: I hope my group is known to every engaged Magic player.

Trevor: Well the ultimate goal is to fold because there is no longer any need to point out the benefits of being kind to strangers that you play a competitive game with, but realistically 5 years is too soon for that so I’ll stick with expansion of the goals for 2014 but with global coverage not just Australia and North America.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Tifa and Trevor are asking for everyone’s help. Everyone who reads this article can contribute – at the end of it I’ll even show how players can get in on the action. The main challenge is being made to all Professional Players, writers and bloggers, content managers, website owners, Tournament Organizers, store owners, Judges, and Podcasts. If you provide content or support the community in any way, I’m throwing the gauntlet down at your feet. This challenge is also being directed to Wizards of the Coast, to recognize 2014 as the year they make a difference in diversity through their worldwide influence. It doesn’t matter if you reach one person or ten thousand through your actions, the idea is simple.

Make a pledge to make supporting diversity in gaming this year through your words and deeds.

The Pledge

As a supporter of Magic the Gathering, you recognize the impact of your contributions. Every day, you see the effect you have on the greater Magic Community. Now it’s time for you to take the pledge:

I promise that in 2014, I will make every effort to support diversity. Through my actions, I will effect change and work to end bigotry so that all players may feel welcome. To that end, I will do the following-

  • As a writer or blogger, I will dedicate at least one article to promoting diversity.

  • As a Professional Player, I will seek to promote diversity at events I attend.

  • As a content manager, I will work with my writers and media specialists to make certain they promote diversity. I will also take up the pledge personally through my own blog or Twitter feed.

  • As a website owner, I will promote diversity through the content I provide. I will take care to highlight articles that promote Diversity and make those items easy to locate on my site.

  • As a Tournament Organizer, I will offer a free table to any group promoting diversity in gaming and/or I will sponsor at least one side-event to help promote Magic as a safe and interactive game anyone can enjoy. If I offer gaming coverage, I will do a PSA to run at each event promoting diversity.

  • As a Store Owner, I will establish and post a policy that all gamers may feel welcome and that bigotry and hate speech will not be tolerated. I will also investigate becoming a Safe Place.

  • As a Judge, I will be an ambassador for diversity, helping everyone to see the advantage of an open and friendly gaming environment.

  • As a Podcasterer, I will dedicate one episode this year to taking on the diversity challenge and I will promote diversity through my podcasts as the opportunity presents itself.

  • As WotC, we will pledge to promote diversity through our articles, website, and event coverage.

  • As a player, I will take the Gamers Against Bigotry pledge. I won’t let my fellow players get away with hate speech and I will notify a Judge when necessary at sanctioned events – even if I am not the person receiving the insult.

Seems easy, right? Here is the best part. There are already two groups that support diversity in the Magic Community. You can contact either of them directly to get their perspective on any number of issues affecting the gaming community. Doing your own interview with Tifa or Trevor will fulfill your pledge. Spend an article talking about their respective groups will do the same. I’m not suggesting that everyone out there do this. I’m only offering it as one way to fulfill your obligation to promote diversity. Be creative!

When you write your article, promote your podcast, or find another way to fulfill your pledge this year, then let Tifa and Trevor know about it. Both Planeswalkers for Diversity (@MTGDiversity) and the Lady Planewalkers Society (@MTGLadySociety) have Twitter feeds, and they will be happy to retweet your success to their followers. In this, everyone wins.

We’re also challenging everyone who reads this article to take one more step. It doesn’t matter if you are a major contributor or just a player sitting at home at the kitchen table. I entreat everyone to go to Gamers Against Bigotry and take their diversity pledge as well.

Don’t Forget Those Judges

We would be remiss if we did not mention an important part of the Magic Infraction Procedure Guide as a part of this article. While we hope and work towards changing the mindset of players, the IPG provides for a method of handling situations that do occur. Unsporting Conduct – Minor or Unsporting Conduct – Major are penalties that can be issued to players that engage in vulgar or hate speech. The IPG is a very well defined document and we all encourage players to be familiar with it and the possible ramifications of violating it. When in doubt – call a Judge.

2014 – The Year We Make a Difference

At the start of every new year, it is customary to take make a resolution for some type of self improvement or to perform an act of goodwill. Here is mine:

I promise to give this article to every content site for Magic the Gathering to be used to help promote diversity. I further promise as a blogger, to write at least one additional article promoting diversity and to continue to assist Planeswalkers for Diversity and the Lady Planeswalker Society in their mission. You see that first sentence? If you are responsible for managing a site, you have my permission (as well as Trevor’s and Tifa’s) to take this article right now and post it in its entirety, so long as you credit the source and keep it intact. If there is a need to edit it, please contact me first via email. You also may take the article to simply distribute it to your own writers to get them to write about diversity this year. This article, interview, and pledge are all one big challenge to the Community. Are you willing to take the challenge?

Khinky’s Boots #2

Welcome to Khinky’s Boots, a weekly column where our resident know-it-all dispenses indispensable advice to everyone from Planeswalkers to Pegasi.

Our contributor is Khin Kyaw, a flavour text enthusiast, fashion nerd and inveterate science fiction fan from Johannesburg. She blogs about freedom and frugality at Osprey’s Lab and explores the South African MTG community at Manabond ZA.

The Multiverse has 99 problems… Khinky is in no way qualified to fix any of them, but it never hurts to try. In today’s column: wrist bones, sphinx beards and a Lhurgoyf.

insatiable harpy

Dear Khinky

My collection of wrist bones is getting out of hand. It began with just one or two, but every time I visit a battlefield I come home with more. Now it seems like there are thousands of them piled up against the walls. My cave is always a mess and my partner keeps threatening to get rid of them all.

Please help!
Insatiable Harpy

Dear Insatiable

This is a common problem among wrist bone enthusiasts, so you are definitely not alone. I would suggest a two pronged approach:

  1. Cutting down – How many of those bones really deserve to be part of your collection? Keep only those that are very valuable or currently in use.
  2. Storage solutions – Get some nice boxes and assign a dedicated space in your cave for your bones. Your partner will be less inclined to get rid of them if you do a good job of keeping them neat.

One last thing – does your partner know how much your collection is worth? I’ve heard of cases where very rare bones ended up in the trash after a petty domestic squabble!

Good luck…
Khinky

prognostic sphinxDear Ms Khinky

I’m noticing more and more that the other sphinxes tend to be overly dismissive of me, calling me an old fogey and whatnot. I’m only a couple of centuries older than those whippersnappers but I guess I’m prejudiced too – their beards are in need of a good trim! But it seems like such a small issue and they’re a good bunch of kids. Should I just let it slide?

Old but not irrelevant,
Prognostic Sphinx

Dear Prognostic

First of all, great beard! But seriously though, discrimination is a thing; ageism is definitely a thing and if you are feeling the effects then it’s something worth trying to fix. I wish I had an easy solution. Not that it’s your responsibility to educate them but perhaps you could make the others aware of the various prejudices around age? You’ve already taken a good first step by talking about it, so thanks.

Yours
Khinky

lhurgoyfDear Khinky

I’m a nice enough guy and I don’t smell too bad, but lately I’ve had a problem making friends. I used to have a pretty average social life, you know – book club and graveyard crawls and the occasional dinner party. But nowadays I can’t seem to get within sight of the village without everyone running away. Pretty sure Hans has been spreading rumours about me again. What should I do?

Love
Lhurgoyf

Dear Lhurgoyf

Man that’s tough, I really feel for you. Let me just say that if there are unsavoury rumours floating around, they’re more likely to have originated with Saffi Eriksdotter and not poor Hans. Saffi means well but she can be a little bit dramatic sometimes.

I would advise you to take the high road – continue to be the stand up guy that you are until this whole thing blows over. Meanwhile, have you tried meeting friends who are a bit more open minded? I hear Mortivore is looking for a ballroom dancing partner and I have a feeling the two of you would get along.

Best
Khinky

Khinky’s Boots #1

Welcome to Khinky’s Boots, a new series where our resident know-it-all dispenses indispensable advice to everyone from Planeswalkers to Pegasi.

Our contributor is Khin Kyaw, a flavour text enthusiast, fashion nerd and inveterate science fiction fan from Johannesburg. She blogs about freedom and frugality at Osprey’s Lab and explores the South African MTG community at Manabond ZA.

The Multiverse has 99 problems… Khinky is in no way qualified to fix any of them, but it never hurts to try. In today’s column: an image-conscious minotaur, a petulant planeswalker and prongs.


fleetfeather sandals

To Ms Khinky

I really want to wear Fleetfeather Sandals but I’m pretty sure it will result in the other minotaurs making fun of me and questioning my minotauriness. Why should humans have the monopoly on stylish footwear though?

From
Minotaur Skullcleaver

Dear Skull

To hell with the others, wear whatever you want! Having said that, I do understand that you live in a society where traditionally minotaurian characteristics are highly prized. It’s not easy to question the status quo, but I hope that you will have the courage to do so. The sandals are just the first step, so to speak.

You do you, dude.
Khinky

leafcrown dryadDear K

What’s the deal with nymphs? They say they’re not into fur but then they go around holding hands and not wearing much, which why would they do that unless they’re trying to get my attention, right? It kills me man.

Please help!
Ajani

P.S. I’ve tried everything, even my best line (“I only have eye for you, baby”) but they won’t even let me watch.

Dear AJ

So the nymphs keep saying that they’re not into you and you keep refusing to accept this. Which tells me that their autonomy means less to you than your ego. Have some respect, AJ. The fact that you find them attractive is not their problem and they shouldn’t have to deal with your unwelcome advances. I’m sure there are plenty of faeries falling all over themselves to touch your axe… Do yourself a favour and let this one go.

Yours
Khinky

thassaDear Khinky

What’s so great about tridents anyway? I’m sick of everyone making fun of me for only having two prongs. Heliod certainly doesn’t get any grief over his spear.

From
Anonymous

Dear ThassaAnonymous

Your bident is definitely badass. Could it be that the other gods are just insecure? The fact that they’re poking fun says more about them than it does about you! Everyone knows how awesome your powers can be, so try to concentrate on function over form… After all, it’s the motion of the ocean that counts!

Yours
K