Editor’s Note: Gerald Freas received an 18 months ban from the DCI for posting pictures of people at Magic tournaments (GP Indy and GP Baltimore) and making fun of them on Twitter. This is an interview with Gerald from an anonymous source.
1) Tell us a little about yourself – name, age, etc
My name is Gerald Freas. I am 30 years old.
2) How’d you start playing Magic?
I started playing various games as a child. Around the time I was 12-13 I was heavily into games such as Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons. I also started playing Spellfire and various other collectible card games that had come out at that time. I was also working a part time job when I met a guy who also played Spellfire and we discussed the game and he mentioned Magic: the Gathering and how it was a superior game and he gave me some commons and some lands. A friend and I went to an Electronics Boutique (if i remember correctly) soon after and split a box; I was hooked.
I was mostly a casual gamer for my whole life, occasionally attending a PTQ here and there. In 2000 I stopped playing and picked up the hobby again in 2010 when a friend and I were bored one night and he suggested we go to a midnight prerelease (ROE) as something to do. Enter relapse of gaming addiction.
3) What was your involvement level with the game before the banning?
Involvement level? I usually play FNMs and the like with my friends. They play more events than I ever did, so I had been traveling with them and playing in events with them. While I enjoy playing magic, I have no dreams of playing magic “professionally.” I have a good job and enjoy magic as a hobby. This is not to say I am not involved at all as I routinely talk my girlfriend into watching PT/GP/SCG coverage (streamed to a big screen for maximum geekiness) and since my current income trumps that of what it was when I was younger I have no want for cards (probably spending more on Magic than I would like, but I am also a collector at heart so I feel the need to gather and collect, something many Magic players can understand I’m sure).
4) What was the response after GP Baltimore to the tweets? Do you think there was any reason the issue didn’t come up before Nashville?
The 2 events in question are GP Baltimore and GP Indy. After GP Baltimore there was literally no response and no one seemed to care at all. I thought that no issue was made of it because there was no issue to be made. I deleted the posts due to some people complaining that they were offensive, including some of the “victims”. Although I don’t feel that victim is an appropriate term, I voluntarily took them down. (I was also unaware that tweets could be deleted until earlier today actually, although no one will believe me).
5) What was your intent when you started this project? Did you think that anyone would find your sense of humor offensive?
I wouldn’t call this a project as my intent was simply to make my friends laugh. I like having a good time and laughing and I personally try not to take myself or anything so seriously that it can’t be poked a little. I believe that a common practice among most groups of friends is to sit around and make fun of each other or tell jokes, etc. to make everyone laugh and have a good time. I also believe that not every joke is in “good taste,” and that humor (much like beauty) is up to the individual. We were laughing at things that stood out or struck us as funny and of course some of those things were people/clothes/hairstyles etc. I don’t recall how the pictures started, but I do remember that we thought it was funny to post pictures with “funny” captions to twitter, similar to slug-it type pictures.
As for my sense of humor…I like to laugh. A lot. Humor is purely subjective and I know that not everyone finds the same things funny that I do. I thought that if someone found a joke offensive, they would simply ignore it as nearly all humor can be found to be offensive to someone.
6) Of the few remaining Tweets with captions left, it seems like two of them are of relatively well known players (Matthias Hunt and Chris Mascioli). Did you go out of your way to find better known players or was this just a coincidence?
If there are still tweets of this nature that remain posted I can assure you that I missed them during my removal spree and they will be taken down. It is purely coincidence that they are “well known” players. I didn’t make any attempt to track people down or go looking for people; they were simply pictures of things that were thought to be funny as they happened. I didn’t know who Matthias Hunt was until I saw him on coverage the other week and I didn’t know that he was in a picture I took until just now. I knew that was Chris, but thought that he looked funny at that moment so I took his picture.
7) What was your reaction when you first heard about the Twitter reaction to your tweets? What did your friends think?
When I first heard of the reaction I was angry. I was angry that one person was trying to make a crusade against me and was trying to instigate a witch hunt when he (or anyone) could have spoken to me like human being and said that some of the people posted were upset/offended or have a WOTC rep talk to me about it. If that would have happened, those pictures would have come down almost instantly and apologies would have been made at that time. Instead he (and many others) called me a piece of shit (among other things) and were insistent that only their point of view mattered and no matter what they were right and I was wrong and any opinion I had was wrong.
My friends? They thought the entire event was hilarious. Many of them know who Chris is (as he used to write for SCG and lives in the North East) and already had a mild dislike for him based on previous interactions with him (not uncommon). They found the idea of a twitter battle with someone who is clearly a hypocrite and who they consider to be an airbag quite entertaining. They especially enjoyed when I told Chris that I had been removed from the site when, in fact, I had not and I was busy cheering on friends in the GP and the TCG events that Sunday. Chris took that as a victory and posted it as if he were a hero for having me ejected when in fact no one even knew who I was or approached me.
8 ) Were you approached at the venue and told to stop? if so, by who? Did they warn you that even if you stopped that there might be future consequences?
Absolutely not. Like I said, that was just something I had said to Chris to get him to shut up and to make him look stupid when he posted it to every possible forum like he was some kind of hero. I was never aware of any investigation. I was never contacted by any TO or ejected from any event. I was never contacted by anyone from WoTC. Several friends had made jokes that I would get suspended, but they were not serious. Later I was told (by various competitive players) that in reality it was possible that WoTC might slap my wrist or at least want to talk to me. At this point I had still had 0 contact with anyone from Wizards or the DCI. I tried to open a line of communication via fb in which I wanted to know if anything was happening, if there was an investigation, if Wizards/DCI had any issue with my twitter acct, etc. I received no reply. Thinking that nothing was happening, I logged into my dci account to see how many more points I needed for another GP bye to see if it would be reasonable to get it this weekend. When I signed it, I was asked to update my email account and personal information. Within minutes of submitting my information, I received an e-mail informing me that I was banned (at this point my first and only communication with WOTC/DCI). Is this a coincidence? Probably, but it was most definitely weird.
9) Do you think Chris (@dieplstks) being the subject of one of your Tweets was a motivator for him to white knight you so hard?
I think a lot of things about Chris and due to the recent climate and my banning I would rather not share them publicly and risk a lifetime ban. I think that he likes attention and would have found a way to be involved whether he was featured or not. I also find it repugnant that he is guilty of bullying yet rushes to stop it…by bullying. In the most recent example he was attacking various people who were simply defending me on twitter and calling them pieces of shit, etc. He is not part of any solution since he is very hypocritical, not to mention his twitter tag is “die please, thanks”.
10) What do you have to say to your critics now? Supporters?
To my critics? What can I say to people who don’t want to accept that there are points of view that differ from theirs? Despite what people think, I do not crave attention. I have no burning wish to have my name plastered all over the internet. Was I wrong? Yes, and I have said so repeatedly. Do I feel remorse for the people who feel slighted/wronged? Yes, I do. I thought I was being clever and funny and that anyone who saw it would take it as such. I offer a real apology to anyone who feels slighted by this issue. And if you want one directly from me, you will have to contact me.
I also think that the magic community is very hypocritical. Magic players make rude comments at every venue. Players insult one another after a game they feel they should have won. Pros routinely trash “randoms” in person and to each other. Various podcasts bearing the mtg name have commentators that say horribly offensive things to one another and about people. Various “parody” sites and twitter accounts exist that name names and mock players. SCG sells sleeves that are allowed at all MTG events that are blatantly sexually suggestive. Yet none of those things seem to be a problem. Which I why I initially thought there was nothing wrong with what I did. Even @mtgaaron routinely calls players “noobs” (which many people do find offensive and is an insult) and he has a favorite tweet that shows a picture of me hashtagged with “#gpindy” and various insults. The person who posted that picture has not faced any sanction. @mtgaaron has not faced any sanction. Where is the justice, the equivalence, the enforcement of said rules to all players and members of the community? Why is tweeting bad and RTing ok?
To my supporters? If you really support me (or just don’t support an 18 month suspension for my actions) please let Wizards/DCI know about it. I don’t think it will help me at all, but it is not a good precedent to have set and players need a little more clarity in the way that suspensions are determined and handed out, perhaps a little transparency. I think in a case like mine, even a 3-6 month ban would be overkill and would make their point with a heavy hand.
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