How Not To Get Women To Play MtG

A friend and I entered in our first Magic the Gathering tournament this past weekend. Both of us hadn’t touched Magic in many, many years. We thought it’d be a fun impromptu adventure.
Registered
We sat down with six others in a Mini-Masters game. Everyone was awesomely friendly.
I teared open my two booster packs, and rolled up the sleeves of my imaginary robe.

Time to sling some spells.
Spell Slinger
As I scanned the room for mana cards, a staff member walked up to me and said:
“Do you know how to play?”

Yes, Mr. Staff Member, I know how to play. If I didn’t, I would sit in the beginner area, and not at a tournament table. I don’t see you singling out any of the sea of men around me, some whom were as rusty as I was. You were trying to be nice, but you were very unhelpful in getting women, like me, interested in Magic again.

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8 comments
  1. Hoth Jones said:

    Honestly, It’s the attention hungry females like you that make it hard for people to accept women as serious players. Maybe since you where new to the store or tore open TWO packs at once for what sounds like a draft clued the judge that you had no clue what your were doing. Now you are crying out some more. LOOK AT ME INTERNETS, IM A GURL PLAYING MAGIC! *tee hee*

    • Jenny said:

      1. Mini Master:
      Each player starts with 2 boosters and basic land. After each round, winners receive an additional booster to add to their deck.
      2. He wasn’t a judge.

      I’m not a serious player, but don’t dismiss me. I want a chance to hold my own, just like every other guy out there.

  2. Drinne said:

    There is the perfectly reasonable possibility that Mr. Staff Member simply didn’t recognize you as someone who had been to the store before and therefore asked for that reason. Mini master isn’t a common tournament set up.

    However Hoth Jones is pretty much the definition of why many women are turned off by MTG’s culture, he managed to sum up the incredibly entitled youth, male privilege and wave around his gold card membership to the “He-Man WomenHaters Club” while showing his own limited experience with the game.

    Does anyone even know what Little Rascals is anymore?

    My local gaming store is actually very board game focused with L5R being premier play and part of the pro circuit there and if you show up regularly you know who’s part of the store and you look out for new people even if they don’t play your game. ( I admit I’m constantly scanning for other women who are coming to play Magic, I’m also trying to start a local chapter of the Lady Planeswalker’s society).

    The staff member knows who his customers are, and if you’ve been there before and never bought magic he knows that he’s never seen you play magic before. It might have been phrased awkwardly but he might just have been making sure you were at the right table – he didn’t say ” will you need someone to explain the rules” he just made sure you knew how to play – if you didn’t and there was a beginners table he would have been right to keep your game experience within the potential for you to win and have a good time.

    I personally think that perhaps you were a bit oversensitive or only seeing it from your point of view and not the store’s and perhaps you might want to consider you were reacting to the internet culture and not the guy who works there. If you were new and just sat at the wrong table would you have accepted if he’d asked you if you’d like him to explain the rules? Would you have been happy for the news that you were at an expert table instead of a beginning one?

    Did he maybe recognize everyone else at the table besides you? Did they have gear they didn’t buy there ( mats, dice, I play a GP giveaway mat when i go someplace new to indicate that I’ve got some experience.)

    There’s lots of things wrong with magic culture but i don’t think this is one of them. I think it’s the business looking to help new players.

  3. Drinne said:

    Also if said tournament was not in a store but was a GP I take it back and Staff Member was condescending.

    • Jenny said:

      I think it’s awesome that you’re trying to start a Lady Planeswalker’s society. MTG is a lot of fun, but it’s not usually targeted towards women.

      The tournament was at PAX, so not quite a store or GP. I’m pretty sure the staff was just trying to be nice, but I didn’t like how he singled me out. There were plenty of others around me (all men) and some were equally new to the tournament setting (like my friends who sat near me).

  4. Drinne said:

    I’m working really hard to understand what’s happening – it seems like the game got better but the culture got worse – particularly in the last 5 years. But I’m not just a girl, I’m an old girl who was a toy reviewer once upon a time. I think the problem is actually a lack of a mid level OP and the game designers only hiring people who were excellent on the tournament circuit being the highest on the totem pole.

    The other problem is even more basic marketing concept – they took the psychographs they created for play styles ( timmy, johnny spike) and didn’t create competitive psychographs just assumed all tournament players = Spike.

    Design and competition are different target markets. Now they are surprised that they can’t get more than Spike self reinforcing players in to diversify the scene.

    My other theory on women’s performance in the last six months is that girls played pokemon with boys with no problem, but junior high school where the peer acceptance and gender roles are strongly policed by other middleschoolers made card games a boy thing but retro or nostalgic pokemon playing OK. Women who have time when they’re out of the soup pot are used to playing competitive battling card games and they are attracted to magic but the young men have been having it as “boy space” for 5-6 years. There’s always been gender disparity but not like this. Also the competitive videogame culture is infecting it waay to much – I do have a competitive journal online if you’re interested in it.

    • Jenny said:

      The journal definitely sounds interesting. Link me? 🙂

  5. Drinne said:

    OK – it’s a competitive journal that I write before I forget things and a lot about my emotional state and mindset if it’s affecting my game play so I’m sort of working on the Amanda Palmer spelling and grammar rules for Blogs ( which means there are no rules).

    But if you’re less interested in the boring my brain part, there is a project I’ve been doing where I record the first impression to each peice of card art in Avacyn Restored that starts here:

    http://pseudonewbmtg.blogspot.com/2012/05/pseudo-newb-one-females-reaction-to.html

    I also have some instructional design pieces that I’m creating as test cases for better ways to teach Magic on the site.

    So here’s the general site:

    http://pseudonewbmtg.blogspot.com/

    If you want to read it from struggles of new player learning you’d start from first entry forward. I started it as soon as I reactivated my DCI number.

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