Welcome back, esteemed readers! Let’s talk about discrimination in our games, shall we?

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article discusses and references some derogatory and offensive terms.  Please be warned.)

We know many gamers are young, and adolescents tend to not always make the best decisions. They also use words and terms without giving any real amount of thought to them. This, combined with the male-dominated gaming culture we have for Magic (and really…the way many talk doesn’t help attract women to Magic either) can lead to some really awful phrases thrown around. Across several states I’ve visited many game shops, and while this may not happen inside the store (though it often does), it definitely happens outside the game store.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING WORDS ARE EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE

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Really Offensive, I’m sorry.

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“N****r”

“F****t”

“C**t”

“R****d”

And heard in reference to how a given game turned out:

“R*ped”

Spaceballs

Hear any of these recently? Of course you have! Congrats, you’re surrounded by assholes! I am constantly blown away by how stupidly insulting the gaming community can be. It makes even less sense when you think that many of us are into other hobbies that are considered geeky. Society will call us out on our fun, we don’t need to pollute that with racist remarks.

Seriously, Why?

Can anyone explain how a bunch of educated nerds come together and suddenly think dropping the N-word is okay? This is not okay. We can replace “okay” with many different words that are more properly descriptive – bad, insulting, degrading, de-humanizing, mean – and it goes on.

If you hear someone use these terms, they should be called on it. However, just yelling about how bad it is doesn’t work. I know, I’ve tried. Rather, we need to challenge their thinking. When someone says something extremely stupid and offensive (sorry, we’re in the 21st century; if you use that language you are wrong, stupid, and being offensive – also not sorry), asking them “Why did you say that?” or “Why did you choose that word?” or “What did you mean with that?” is a much better approach.

Be warned, fellow non-assholes, this is exhausting. The community has a really bad habit of falling into this when things are not going well. You will be worn out from constantly challenging thinking and behavior. But it is Worth It!

The Social Justice Warrior Hate

There has been some negative push against being a Social Justice Warrior (“SJW”) which is ridiculous. Stop and think on this for a second. A SJW wants everyone to be equal, and spends time and effort trying to actually make this happen. Nonetheless, people are using the term “social justice warrior” as a negative label. Really?!?!? Someone who wants to make other people have a better life full of less bullshit and inequality is seen as a bad thing? More horse crap to the pile!

Fight this garbage.  Be a good person.

Why We Need to Intervene

The bystander effect—basically when something bad happens and there are people around, everyone assumes that someone else is going to do something about it. This happens when Player A calls Player B a “f****t” after a game. Loads of people wince and think this is wrong. But then these people look around and think someone else will step up.

But no one does.

We create a culture around gaming. John Scalzi (writer and generally cool dude found here) has written articles and blog posts about how we create a geek/nerd/fan/whatever culture, and this culture often includes degrading remarks – particularly directed towards non-dominant groups.

Want to know what this does? It makes us all worse! We lose players, we scare away customers from our beloved stores, we hurt people, and we gain absolutely nothing in return. When Melissa DeTora plays, chats and forum discussions become this toxic wasteland full of misogyny. Why? What do we gain? Nothing!

Your Mission

-Don’t be an asshole. Congrats…it’s that easy.

Okay, I lied. The real mission is to educate and create a change. When someone uses abusive language, call them out. Talk to your local store owners about disallowing slurs and hateful language. We get frustrated, we can curse. But me cursing over a mistake is very different from me attacking my opponent.

-Call people out. If others don’t see you stepping forward, they aren’t likely to get the courage to do so. We can be an example, and we can create change. We can stop this terrible behavior and make Magic an even greater game. 

Alright, readers: hit me up below. How right (or wrong) am I? How has this behavior affected you personally? 

Thanks for reading.

-Erik
@Erik_Tiernan