Several weeks ago I published “6 Things You Can Do To Get More Women Into Magic.” It was a short article with tips and advice to create a more welcoming environment to women at the local and competitive scene.
After being published, it received almost 1,000 comments, making it the most discussed article in ChannelFireball’s history. It sparked thousands of conversations throughout the community on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and Podcasts.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, but the positivity of the community’s reaction filled me with hope. I am humbled by the number of people who have joined the discussion.
The purpose of this article is to expand on a few points and address several of the criticisms that have emerged in this community-wide conversation.
First, some have mentioned—fairly—that these are important issues for making Magic more welcoming for anybody, not just women. I agree, but I think it’s less productive to debate semantics instead of discussing what we can do to improve the situation.
With that, let’s address some criticisms.
“Why do we need to get women into the game?”
True, Magic doesn’t need women. Magic is one of the most successful games of all time, and it’s still growing rapidly more than 20 years after its release, which is virtually unheard of in the gaming industry. Magic will continue to be successful regardless of how many women attend local shops, competitive events, and Pro Tours. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t actively be trying to make the community more welcoming.
Stop for a moment and think about how important Magic has been to you—how a card game has brought joy, friendships, and passion into your life. The doors should be open for everyone to experience the same thing you have, regardless of age, gender, or race.
“Magic isn't naturally appealing to women. Why are we trying so hard to get them interested?”
Magic is not appealing to everyone and that’s completely fine, but if we can improve the environment, those who do give it a shot are more likely to continue playing.
If we’re able to retain more FNM first-timers who are women, the number of female players will rise. It starts at local gaming stores. By having a friendly environment in which women can have fun, learn, and not be made to feel like too much of an outsider, it will just be a matter of time until more start playing competitively. The LGS is a stepping stone for competitive Magic. People don’t usually make a leap from kitchen table Magic to Grand Prix. By increasing the rate of retention of new female players, we’ll create the bridge into competitive play.
“If you do ‘say something’ about someone’s odor, you’re not being helpful, you’re being a bully. It’s none of your business. Creating an awkward situation, or shaming another person, does nothing good for either party.”
Privately letting someone know that they smell is not shaming. Some people with hygiene issues know they smell and don’t care, but many people just don’t know they smell because they can’t smell themselves, and most people are too scared to tell them. You are being helpful by letting them know. I’ve sat next to people who smelled so bad I had trouble concentrating on my match. When you’re creating a negative experience for me and others then it is my business.
One of my friends used to have hygiene issues and I was the only person who let him know when he smelled bad. After privately bringing it to his attention a number of times he improved his hygiene enough that it rarely became an issue again. Bringing it to his attention was the most productive way to address the situation and he's better off now because of it.
“The problem isn’t that some people have bad hygiene, the problem is cramped venues with poor ventilation.”
Cramped venues with poor ventilation magnify the problem, but they are not the sole cause. I’m not referring to the sweaty smell that occurs after 9 rounds of Swiss, I’m talking about a small number of people who really smell. There are very distinct scents that emerge when someone isn’t showering, using deodorant, brushing their teeth, or wearing clean clothes. It's also true that some people smell bad for genetic reasons and they can't help it. While this is true, it is by far the exception, not the rule.
“Nice article… for a girl.”
“You argue for equality, then ask for preferential treatment in supporting female Magic role models. How is that fair?”
This point was partly aimed at WotC and others in a position to help elevate under-the-radar female community members to bigger stages. Other e-sports like League of Legends have a low percentage of female players, but Riot makes sure to showcase the few females the game has, whether it be on feature matches, or even if it just means there is a knowledgeable female player interviewing competitors between rounds of tournament coverage.
“We don’t have any role models or professional female Magic players so how are we supposed to support them?”
Every girl in the community can be a Magic role model. There are female competitive players, podcasters, judges, streamers, writers, artists, and cosplayers. Melissa DeTora left a void when she went to work for Wizards, but all female community members showcase that this is a game to be enjoyed by everyone, and they don’t need to be professional players to lead by example.
Conclusion: Change starts with healthy debate
I knew that this was a sensitive topic and other well-meaning people would inevitably disagree with some points. But the overwhelmingly positive tone of the discussion has filled me with hope that we are heading in the right direction.
I’ve never been more proud to be a part of this wonderful family. Thank you all for your willingness to take an active role in shaping the future of the Magic community.
I’d love to continue the discussion so please share your thoughts in the comments. What do you agree/disagree with? What is still missing from the discussion?