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Bullying in Magic: The Gathering Community

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Magic Culture

I would like to address several things that have been bugging me about the Magic community since I have started to follow the online scene. Basically, I feel like this is going to be the most important article I have ever written. This article will contain personal beliefs and feelings. If you do not agree with me, then so be it. In my opinion, this needs to be said. I’m going to cover the topic of bullying in this post, specifically elements present in the Magic: The Gathering community. Bullying is something that hits very hard with me, and I find it very hard to witness others being bullied in online forums or real life.

BULLYING- Unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves real or perceived power imbalance.

CYBERBULLYING- Unwanted, aggressive behavior that can take place through online interaction, text messages, emails, etc.

The first element of this bullying is the amount of “gaming elitism” I see every time I go on Facebook or I drive to the card shop. It is one thing to suggest a deck list to someone, but another entirely to call their list trash, garbage, or just bad before TELLING them what to play. I know this discourages newer players because I was a new player at one point. It is a form of bullying I like to call elitism. Here are some examples of this:

“You are playing infect and you aren’t playing Glistener Elf? Are you stupid?

“Affinity without Ensoul Artifact is just bad. What are you doing?

“Don’t play what you are playing. Play what wins.

Elitism is a disease in the Magic community. I urge all of you to consider kindness as a form of help as opposed to straightforwardness. There is a difference between being competitive and being elitist. Essentially, there are ways to provide help if you are asked without making one feel horrible. Examples:

“Hey man, Glistener Elf is one of the best infect creatures of all time! I think it would fit well in your deck. Give it a thought

“I’ve heard that Ensoul Artifact is one of the best cards Affinity could be playing right now. You may want to check that out! I’ve got a list and everything!

“Sweet home-brew man! I hope you win some games!

The reason I call “elitism” bullying is because one doesn’t know if the behavior is unwanted. Someone may want advice, but maybe not in the form of Elitism. I promise you will make more friends through being aware of your actions in the MTG community. Being “nice” can go a long way.

Elitism also comes in another form: Bragging. This can be after your tier one modern deck smashes some poor guy’s mono green home-brew at FNM, or maybe if you manage to beat Twin with a standard deck. The players that are fond of bragging may take to Facebook to let a group of friends or a community page know of their crushing victory, all the way calling the player they had the fortune to play against names. I cannot believe these posts exist online. Examples may include:

“Played this scrub at FNM who had some weird mono-green home-brew. Crushed him 2-0. What an idiot.

“My Affinity just wrecked this Twin player who didn’t know how to properly pilot his deck. What an idiot. He didn’t even sideboard correctly. Scrub.

Why? These posts disturb me and make me feel bad about being a member of the Magic community. I get even more upset when I witness this form of Elitism in real life. It is very hard for me to be grateful to my opponent for the games when I know they are going to brag about their crushing victory. It just makes me and other players feel bad. When these players finally beat the bragger in their store, they might just start bragging themselves, spreading the elitism disease. The solution to this problem is easy: stop bragging. Thank your opponent for taking the time out of their day to play you, and be friendly. It’s easy. FNM may be competitive at your shop, but there just simply isn’t a place for bragging, especially with the intent to put your opponent down. Lifting one’s self up to put another down is literally the definition of bullying. When one does this, they are perceiving a power imbalance. I am not going to show examples of healthy bragging because their simply are none. Bragging has no place in Magic: The Gathering.

The second element of MTG bullying is just “classic bullying.” Bullying at FNM is a problem in the Magic community. Making fun of someone else for a perceived “benefit,” whether it is “just for a laugh” or not, is wrong. This is something everyone in the Magic community who has attended school has witnessed. Many MTG players attend FNM to escape their daily lives for 4 hours or so. Why would anyone think that it is appropriate to drive those who aspire to play games with them away? It makes no sense to me. I would urge anyone who sees this at FNM or who participates in this behavior to take action and stop bullying. Telling the owner of the shop or even an employee can put an end to the behavior. Calling the bully out can also work, especially if the entire shop will back you up. The second method is not anonymous, however, so be careful when you pick your battles. Hopefully the community can lead these bullies in the right direction and stop the behavior.

The third and final element I would like to touch on is prevention. How can we prevent bullying of any kind in the Magic: The Gathering community? The answer is quite simple: Kindness. The best way to stop bullying is to not develop a community where bullies can thrive. When we show kindness to one another it is extremely difficult for a bully to take root and begin their torturous behavior. I should not have to provide examples for kindness, since kindness is embedded deep within ourselves. Treat others the way you would want to be treated at FNM, Modern night, commander night, or whatever you attend at your LGS. Perhaps one day the Magic: The Gathering community will no longer classify their players as timmy or the spike, but will embrace everyone for who they are.

I want to leave you with a quote that has changed my life. I hope it changes yours too. I feel like it has lots of meaning to the Magic: The Gathering community, since we are all types of different people from all walks of life that enjoy the game.

We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos and negativity and bullying in the world. And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy. – Ellen DeGeneres

Be kind and let our community thrive!


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