Why I’m Quitting Magic the Gathering

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This is extremely difficult for me to write. I’ve been playing Magic since 2012/2013, and my passion and love for the game have only grown in the eight years since. I’ve grown to love many various formats and found a calling in playing EDH and cEDh. I’ve been writing content about Magic on and off for several years. This game is in my lifeblood and I care deeply about it. That’s why I find it struggle to say that I am quitting the game.

If you’ve been on the internet or turned on the TV in the past 2 weeks, you’ll know about the ongoing Black Lives Matter and anti-police protests that have been going on throughout the United States and lately the entire world. I’m not going to get deep into the politics of this because I am white, and plenty of better things have been said by black people about the subject, but know that I am fully committed to this movement and the demands of the people. And part of that commitment, which for me has been lifelong, has always been to examine my interactions with the world and the people in it for things I can do better, or things I cannot abide. Wizards of the Coast’s entire debacle that has been the past two years (and realistically, their entire existence) cannot be ignored.

Recently, two very thorough articles and calls to attention have made their way through social media – this article from Zaiem Beg, and this article from Lawrence Harmon. Please read what they’ve written here, and listen to what they have to say. I’m not going to put words in their mouth and say they’ve asked people to quit – but their words have drawn quite a response from multiple people, including well known community members like Tolarian Community College or Evan Erwin. More and more people are demanding responsibility, accountability and transparency from Wizards of the Coast. And I am not a person to be able to ignore those calls either, I stand by them.

War of the Spark completely ruined the Magic story for thousands of people, myself included. Their longterm buildup of a relationship between Chandra and Nissa was completely railroaded into a queerbaiting disasterpiece treatment that ultimately not only destroyed, but also erased, the entirety of the most important queer relationship in Magic’s current brand. I immediately could no longer find myself caring about future lore and story content for Magic the gathering – I’d been told in no uncertain terms that queerness and Magic were in many ways incompatible, except as a form of tokenization and pinkwashing. I wasn’t alone, and many people announced they were either done with Magic story or even quitting the game entirely.

If you’ve read the articles I linked above, you’ll know about the ongoing racial issues Wizards of the Coast has with the black community. If you haven’t, I’ll summarize: WotC does not have black people working on the core game elements (game, story), does not hire black artists and does not work with or actively seek to create black content creators. For an upcoming core set that’s supposedly focused on a black man, Teferi, there is a distinct lack of black people working on the game. If you don’t see this as a problem, I think you need to read or reread those articles. Using images of black people without having black people working on the game behind the scenes is nothing short of tokenism and market exploitation. I’ve already quit Magic story after the issues WotC has displayed when dealing with queer people, how can I not listen to the racial issues that have been exposed and find other people’s pain and problems just as legitimate as mine?

I can’t and won’t sit here and tell you what to do. Many black people have quit this game or distanced themselves from it over the years and recently because of these ongoing issues, but there are also those who are attached to this game and decided to stay and try to work on fixing the problem. I do not claim to know the answer, and I do not think there is a right answer, and it definitely is not up to me, a white person, to tell anyone what the right answer is. This is up to each person to decide for themselves, but I want to ask non-black people reading this to examine your participation with the game and ask if you’re doing the right thing for you, and if you’re comfortable with these ongoing issues. Because I’m not comfortable, and you shouldn’t be either. For me the answer is I cannot continue playing or supporting this game in any way as long as this is such a deeply systemic problem.

I hold no illusion that my quitting and announcement is going to have any impact. I don’t have that kind of reach and I know my choices do not impact the choices of other people in regards to their interactions with this game. But I do hope that my words and choice affect you, and make you think about and examine yourself and your place in this world and your interactions with it. Maybe you’ll begin to wonder why a company that so strongly clings to labels like “diversity” and “inclusive” actually can’t seem to commit to these ideas beyond the surface level of cardboard game pieces, that ultimately, not one of us needs to play with.

Black Lives Matter. Build up your community and help people who ask for it. Donate to the Community Bail Fund to help protesters.

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/bail_funds_george_floyd

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Westin Playing to Win

Poet, gamer, lover of Magic and punk rock. Non-binary agender lesbian anarchist. They/them. My views are my own.

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