Tag Archives: tournaments

Time’s Up

22 Aug

I had originally intended to make what I’m about to say in this post a topic for conversation on the next episode of my new podcast, but I felt like it might feel better to get these words and thoughts out of my head and on to paper – or the closest thing to paper that I have, which is my blog.  I feel like getting things off your chest feels differently, depending on the method in which you choose to do it. 

Lately I have been feeling very overwhelmed.  It started right around the time that the release date for Mists of Pandaria was confirmed.  The officers of my guild had decided that they would like us, the raiders to be 90 ideally within a week, but for sure within two weeks of release.  This coincides with the pre-release weekend for Return to Ravnica, a highly anticipated expansion of Magic the Gathering that I and many others are very excited about.  Since I have come back to the game, I have made it to the last two pre-release weekends without fail.  I had every intention of making this one, too, but with the race to hit level 90, I realized I may not be able to make it.  This really bothered me.

Then my boyfriend and I decided to reconcile and start down the path of giving our relationship another shot.  He lives in Chicago.  One of the issues that came up during our initial break up was the fact that we weren’t spending enough time together.  Back then we were seeing each other every other weekend, sometimes every third weekend, mostly due to his work schedule.  When we agreed to give things another try, it came up in conversation that we may have to try stepping things up to every weekend or three weekends out of the month.  This was something I was fine with at the time, but when combined with everything else that I have going on started to make me feel like I was suffocating. 

So, let’s see.  Three days a week raiding, plus Fridays for Friday Night Magic, plus my blog, plus my podcast, plus being a guest host on other people’s podcasts, plus finding time to socialize with my friends and to see my family, plus work 40+ hours a week, and have weekends to spend traveling for the occasional Magic tournament or other type of event, and manage to maintain a healthy relationship with my boyfriend.  How am I supposed to juggle all of this?

Even the first two weeks of Mists seem incredibly daunting to me.  The expansion comes out on September 25th, which is a Tuesday.  I’m not going to burn a vacation day on launch day, for various reasons.  I decided to take the one vacation day that I had available and use it on that Friday, instead.  So starting on Tuesday, I will be coming home from work around 4:30, eating dinner, leveling from about 6pm to 11pm, going to bed, and then doing the same thing on Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday through Sunday would be spent primarily leveling, most likely missing the Return to Ravnica pre-release, and then doing the same 6pm to 11pm grind every day the week after until I’m level 90.  Then comes the grind for gear and rep, so that I can be raid ready.  I’m exhausted just typing this.

Let’s say that I eliminate World of Warcraft from the equation.  Admittedly, this clears up a lot of my week.  Let’s say that I play only Magic and podcast, while blogging occasionally.  I’m already only playing Magic one day a week right now and that’s on Fridays.  Every weekend that I spend with the boyfriend rules Friday Night Magic completely out.  Typically I take the Amtrak to Chicago on Friday afternoons after work and I get down there around 7:30pm.  Most Friday Night Magic events start well before then.  I could start playing Magic Online and play during the week, but I’m leery about having to build an online card collection, in addition to an actual one.  I also worry that playing Magic Online will simply become a substitute for World of Warcraft and I’ll find myself tethered to the computer again during the week.  It would be like substituting one addiction or vice for another. 

Then there is the issue of traveling.  One of the things that excited me the most about getting back into Magic again was the opportunity to play in more large scale events across the country.  I had originally intended to stick to states that were nearby, like Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, etc.  But I have been very fortunate to meet people in states that are a bit farther away from me that I could go visit and even crash with, too.  I could visit Seattle if I wanted to, or Los Angeles, or even New York.  The possibilities are endless.  I can’t do those things if I have a boyfriend, or a boyfriend that my weekends are pretty much devoted to.  Most of the Magic events I’m interested in take place on the weekends.  How would I manage that?

I’m pretty sure this would be an issue, even if my boyfriend didn’t live an hour or so away from me.  Even if I met a guy locally, what guy is going to be okay with a girlfriend who is essentially booked a minimum of three days out of the week (for a computer game, no less) and possibly an additional day or even a weekend (for a card game), and who spends most of her free time working on a blog and a podcast about said games, even when she isn’t playing them?  Having all of this going on doesn’t necessarily make me serious girlfriend material.  It all leads back to the inevitable feeling that I have that something has to go.

I talked about this a little bit with the boyfriend last night and he didn’t have too much to say about it.  He is someone who was a hardcore gamer for a long time and made the switch to being extremely casual, to the point where he now only plays a handful of X-Box games and board games with friends from time to time.  That was something he was glad to do.  He was happy to give up the schedules and the responsibilities and to make other things in his life a priority.  I’m not so sure that I’m at that point yet.  I like my life the way that it is.  I also like being able to do things to the level of satisfaction that I want to do them.  I don’t want to do eight different things, just to say that I’m doing them.  I want to do them and feel like I’m doing them well.  I don’t feel like I can do that right now.  Something is going to suffer.  Something would have to suffer.

I really don’t know what to do.  I don’t know how I can pull all of this off.  I like where I’m at and I feel like I worked hard to get here.  It would be one thing if I weren’t enjoying something anymore and I chose to walk away from it because I hated it.  It would be one thing if something was being taken from me against my will, like Blizzard was no longer making expansions or Wizards stopped making Magic cards.  I have so many things that I love to do and so many people that I love spending time with and seemingly not enough time to spend on everything.  That doesn’t sit right with me.  It feels like a cop out to say that’s why I would be giving up something.

It’s just like Moroes says, “Time… Never enough time.”

Why Women Are Seen Differently In Magic the Gathering Compared To World of Warcraft

5 Apr

Typically when I write a blog post it usually consists me of telling you how it is and then you comment to either expand on what I have just put out there or to say that you respectfully disagree and why.  In this case, I wanted to write a blog post because I don’t know why something is the way that it is and I am hoping to start some discussion to find out for myself.

About two months ago I started playing Magic the Gathering again.  I felt like I had the time and the interest in playing another game, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to play another computer game.  I really missed social interactions with people that didn’t involve sitting behind a computer screen and having to wear a headset.  I started to remember all the good times that I had playing the Magic the Gathering and I was curious to see if I could recreate that magic (no pun intended) all over again.

Back when I quit playing, which was around 1998, Magic was a very different game – especially for women.  I remember being the only girl at the card shop.  I remember reading Duelist magazine and seeing that all of the writers, all of the authorities on how to play the game were men.  I remember seeing special edition decks that would be released with the names of tournament winners and all of them were named after men, too.  There was nobody for me to look up to.  There was nobody around that I could relate to.  It was very frustrating for me, especially as I was starting to enter my early teenage years, I was extremely conflicted about my sexuality and my gender identity, and I already couldn’t relate to my peers for various reasons.

I was quite surprised with how much things had changed in the course of 14 years.  Women were reaching the top 10 rankings in various high end tournaments and sometimes even winning them outright.  The Friday Night Magic event that I attend regularly is comprised of about 50% women – some of whom may happen to show up with their boyfriends or other male companions, but who are still extremely skilled and knowledgeable in their own right.  Women were contributing articles to various blogs and magazines at the same rate and at the same skill set as their male counterparts.  It was incredible to see and it made me even more motivated to come back to the game and to see what I could accomplish for myself.

Unfortunately, the examples listed above are still very much exceptions to the rule.  Magic the Gathering is still very much a men’s game.  This is something that most people in the community will freely admit to.  For as much as people might say that World of Warcraft still has a long way to go, with regards to how women are seen or are how they are treated, it is still leaps and bounds ahead of where Magic the Gathering is today.

What I want to know is why.

Here are my thoughts on this.

Internet anonymity.

It is no secret that people tend to feel more uninhibited or more comfortable with themselves when they are sitting behind a computer screen and not actually having to converse with someone in a face to face manner.  Some people choose to channel this in really positive ways, as in they feel like they can truly be themselves, while others choose to go in the opposite direction with this (e.g. The Internet Dickward Theory).  Regardless, there is something to be said for not having a total stranger sitting in front of you who you do not know and who you are expected to engage in conversation with.

Throw in an extremely competitive tournament setting, where you know well ahead of time that you are going to be one of the only women present, where you are seated very closely to people on either side of you who you do not know, where casual observers might approach you with unsolicited advice in the middle of a round, and where time restrictions are strictly  enforced, and you have all the makings for a potentially stressful situation that would deter most women from even making the effort to participate in such things.

Compared to a Magic the Gathering tournament, participating in a World of Warcraft raid or battleground may seem like a much safer option.  You can sit in your own chair and group up with people that you know and who you are comfortable with.  You can wear more comfortable attire, like your pajamas or your sweats, and bring a snack (or even a drink).  You are most likely playing in your home, your bedroom, your office – your sanctuary, of sorts.  There is a lot of comfort to be had from those trappings that being out in the open in a Magic the Gathering tournament can’t provide you with.

Tangible rewards.

Some would say that the reason why Magic the Gathering seems so much more competitive than World of Warcraft is because the stakes are higher.  People who become very good at Magic can win trips, money, endorsements, trophies, and other sorts of prizes.  These people actually have something tangible that they can gain (or lose) by taking part in these tournaments.  In World of Warcraft, the best guilds typically end up with bragging rights, achievements, special mounts or gear, but the rewards aren’t tangible.  You can’t actually touch these things or show most people what you have won for completing such feats.  On the other hand, cash prizes and actual physical trophies or plaques are things that everyone can understand the significance behind.

With that said, the World of Warcraft trading card game (which bears a lot in common with Magic the Gathering) also offers some tangible rewards, as well.  Yet that game is still considered to be rather casual and inviting towards all different kinds of players in a way that Magic the Gathering still is not.  So maybe it is something else.

The community.

World of Warcraft has one of the most vocal communities out there.  There are hundreds of blogs devoted to the game, from people who raid casually, to those who don’t raid at all, and everything in between.  Sites like Blog Azeroth and WoWInsider act as hubs, or ways to bring the community closer together, and as ways to spotlight voices in the community that may be worth paying attention to.  Podcasts also pop up from people with different takes on all things World of Warcraft, again some from people more experienced with such things and some from others who may not be.  At the end of the day, there is something for everybody.  You really can find something that represents you and that speaks to you.  We have just about every niche filled and if we don’t, there is always room for someone to come along and fill that niche themselves.

From the brief time that I have spent delving into the Magic the Gathering community the opposite seems to be true.  The only people blogging or doing so with any sort of visibility appear to be those at the upper echelons of the game.  The same decks are covered over and over, along with deck ideas that exist solely to beat said deck in a competitive setting.  You don’t see anyone at a more approachable level talking about their experiences and what they may have learned.  The barrier to entry is quite high for these activities.

The game isn’t sold in these formats in such a way where it makes you feel like you too could take part in the action.  It does contribute to the feeling that you need this many DCI points, or this win under your belt, or this deck in your box to be worthy of having a blog or a podcast worth listening to.  And that’s not to say that the authors or podcasters themselves are solely responsible for this.  The audience determines what makes it and what doesn’t.  And if the audience decides that they only want to see people who are successfully taking part in these endeavors, then those are the blogs that you are going to see more prominently.

So what do you think?  Why do you feel like Magic the Gathering is still behind, when it comes to how women are seen, compared to a game like World of Warcraft?  Maybe you feel the opposite.  Let’s talk about it!