Arlinn Kord, Savior of Planeswalkers

Okay, maybe not that dramatic. However, the Magic Community and the Vorthos community today on just about all social media sang her praises, which is very strange to see. We got our first tidbits of the Shadows Over Innistrad storyline today as we learned of Arlinn Kord and then also Halana and Alena in Under the Silver Moon.  For a set I was kind of meh on to begin with, I’m certainly very excited from a flavor perspective now!

Anyway, like I said, social media was incredibly positive over both of these events, with the focus certainly being on Arlinn.  This pretty much summed up much of the reaction:

https://twitter.com/ChazVMTG/status/705056563166322689

But it wasn’t just that we had a Werewolf Planeswalker. It is also part that Arlinn is a woman, with a practical outfit and then additionally doesn’t seem like our typically 15-25 year old looking Planeswalkers, meaning she opens up the demographic within Magic that has aged along side of it for 20 years.

This is key. We’ve had a wide array of characters presented to us across a lot of spectrums, with of course more to be covered, but all of our ‘aging’ or ‘middle aged’ main characters have been male.  Very few of our female characters are portrayed as ‘mature’, ‘old’, ‘or ‘experienced’.  This is a great thing!  This goes outside of the fantasy art and story lines of either telling the story of the maiden(Elspeth, Chandra, Kiora could all fit this) or crone (Mother of Runes, Fate Stitcher), but neglecting the middle.  So this is a great step forward in Magic being more inclusive to a little bit of everyone.

Other people were using Arlinn to replace long lost loved ones in the Vorthos community.  I mean, if we are going to ‘lose’ Elspeth, at least in the comic book sense, we may as well get something equally awesome out of it!

A couple of us went a bit to far into Tin Hat Story Mode, although I’ll laugh is this is the case:

Then there was the fight over what to call her. Wolf Mom seems okay, until you then realize that we automatically assign mom to women at that age, which I’m kinda iffy about.  It belittles people who took other paths and her own story.  It isn’t as if we called Sarkhan Dragon Dad or something silly like that.  Kiora is too ‘young’ to be called Kraken Mom.  So I like this guys solution:

He works for WOTC, so I think I can take it as Gospel.

On the other hand, we had Jack LaCroix who got to the real important things:

https://twitter.com/jacklacroix/status/705057712246099970

I guess everyone has their priorities, even if they don’t align with everyone’s.

And then we had the inevitable sads…

And of course we had this comment ‘all that matters is what is under the picture, I don’t care’

Screenshot 2016-03-02 at 6.34.25 PM

Dude, it is totes okay you don’t like pretty art and full rounded stories, but don’t take away from those of us who do, mmm’kay?  You can have your chatter time when the card is revealed, let us revel in our time! FOR OUR TIME IS NOW!  It isn’t like you are like Jack appreciating some other facet I don’t see, because we don’t know the card yet!

Some of us were doing useful discussion of a card, trying to figure out what she might be.  I’m on team Red-Green personally, but White-Green is also viable, as is perhaps just Red or just Green.  I don’t think we’ve gotten a new Red walker that isn’t Sarkhan or Chandra, so we could be due.  Now watch we get a curve ball thrown at us where she is one color or set of colors on one side, and the complete opposite on the other.  Although, that doesn’t feed in very well with keeping her mind post transformation.

Anyway, at a minimum, Arlinn has gotten everybody thinking about Innistrad in spectacular fashion and overall she is a hit with the community.

Peek #17 : Violet Edgar

 

Violet Edgar is a Level 2 Magic Judge and American expat living near Stuttgart, Germany. She’s transgender, and credits Magic and Judging with giving her the confidence she needed to come out as such. She is a champion of diversity in Magic, especially for LGBTIQ individuals, and was recently interviewed at Grand Prix Utrecht. More information about her can be seen in that interview here.

       p4d: How did you start playing Magic: The Gathering?

Violet: I first learned about the game from the June ‘95 issue of Computer Gaming World where they were previewing the Microprose game. I instantly knew I needed to try the game, and, a few months later, I discovered a few people in my high school who played. I’ve been hooked ever since!image-1
Which I just realized, was almost exactly 20 years ago. Happy Magicverssary to me!

       p4d: What would you like to see Planeswalkers for Diversity accomplish?

Violet: I think one of the limiting factors to how many people of various minorities attend Magic events is a perceived image of “the average Magic player”. The image of the unkempt, socially awkward Magic player who sneers at women and flips tables has become somehow ingrained in pop culture. And I’d like to see P4D help change that perception.

       p4d: Have you ever struggled during judging with people not taking you serious because of being a woman or because of being trans?

Violet: I can’t say I have, at least not yet. People in the communities I’ve judged in so far have been, on the whole, friendly and respectful. I’ll be interested to see if I have any issues with that in the future as I judge more events, especially GPs, where people from different cultures might have different attitudes toward LGBTIQ folks.

 

       p4d: How do you think the Magic community could become more open to new and diverse players?

Violet: I feel that there are three big factors that are keeping Magic from being as diverse as it could be: There are systemic biases keeping minorities out of the game, there is a lack of representation of minorities in the public face of the game, and there are hostile environments that sadly persist in a lot of places the game is played. The first problem is a social one, one that we can all individually do our part to fight against. While we can do our part to improve visibility by being present at events and holding P4D events at our local stores, the big picture is only going to change with the support of Wizards and the bigger sites and TOs – which is, thankfully, already starting to happen.

The third, though, is something that the P4D and the community at large can actually change, and should work hard to. Look at their own behaviours, the spaces they play in, the way they treat players of minorities, whether intentionally or not. A little bit of self-reflection can really effect a lot of good, and I encourage as many people in the community as possible to do just that.

 

       p4d: Do you think that Magic could become for others what it was for you and help them find their inner strength they may need, whether it be for their sexuality, gender identity, or even things as simple as dealing with their anxiety?

Violet: I absolutely think it can! Magic is many things to many people, but for a lot of folks it’s very much a way to express themselves, to meet other people in a friendly, safe environment. I’ve heard countless stories of people who have overcome shyness and social anxiety, depression, family issues, and many more personal obstacles thanks to the game and the community that surrounds it. I hope more people can find their inner strength, their voice, as a result of playing the game, and I try to do my best to show people that that is possible.

p4d: Where can people find you online?

Violet: I have a blog at rainbowvale.wordpress.com, I also tweet @MTGViolet, and I can be contacted through the p4d Facebook group. If you’re a judge, you can also reach me through JudgeApps, and, if you’re not a judge, you can get in touch with me and I can help you change that.