The use of the word ‘rape’ in gaming environments

(this is written in response to the discussion about appropriate language in games stores, started by a recent article by Channel Fireball)

As a survivor of rape I can’t believe I need to say this, but here it is:

It is not okay, or cool, or funny to say ‘raped’ ‘rape’ ‘raping’ to refer to winning or losing when playing a game.


Rape is a strong word, it is used to mean a specific thing. A very bad thing.


If you use the word rape to mean anything other than actual rape, guess what that shows me?

It shows me that you are weak. That you have never experienced an inch of suffering. That you have no life experience. That you have been sheltered all your life, which isn’t your fault, but then you haven’t bothered to explore outside your comfort zone and get to know the real world, and that, yes that IS your fault.


It is a flaw in you to think the word rape is funny and shocking.

Rape isn’t shocking, it is boring, commonplace. It happens every day.

Rape is incredibly common, and if you knew anything other than how to play games and feel entitled, you would know that. The stats are something like ¼ women and ⅛ men are raped by the time they are 17 (though I, and others, suspect the actual number for male rape victims would be larger than that). Many of us have been raped.

This means there is a very very good chance that you will play a game of magic against someone like me, a rape survivor.


Let me explain to you what it is like when you hear someone joking about rape, when you are a survivor.

Firstly, the first thing that happens is my grandfathers face flashes into my mind. His watery blue eyes. The smell of him, which I used to think was the smell of mucus from a cold but I recently realised was the smell of semen. That smell surrounds me. I feel strong emotions of terror and horror and revulsion. I feel what it is to be powerless. Inside my head, there is part of me that is always screaming in horror at what was done to me, and for a moment all the work I have done to function well, to go on with enjoying life, is undone and I hear that screaming inside my mind again. This all happens instantly. 


The next thing I do I put up my walls, as my mind views the word rape as a threat. My mood turns cold and stony, callous, hard, unkind. 


Then, only then, do I even think about the person who said it, and in them I do not think ‘wow how shocking, how edgy, how offensive, oh my goodness!’ No. That is not what I think of you when you do this. 


What I do is I look at you and think you are a child. I feel utterly weary when I contemplate you. If you are someone whose company I was enjoying I am disappointed in you, and I quietly decide that I will never be able to trust you. I know you are immature. 


Also I feel a flash of envy, just a tiny flash, I feel envious that you have led the life you have led, that you must have had such a good, easy, sheltered life, to be able to use the word rape incorrectly. I wish I could have been pampered like a child as you have been for all of your life. 


But that envy only lasts a moment because honestly, no, I would not want to be you, not in a million years, I would always choose rape and dark knowing of the realities of our world over a fool’s ignorance.


You are a squalling child, a toddler throwing a tantrum, obvious in your quest for adult attention and reaction. ‘Look at me!’ you are yelling. ‘Please notice me! I need you!’


I’m sorry that you need me, but I don’t need you. You won’t get the reaction you seek from me. I won’t gasp or act shocked, like you are some kind of ‘edgelord’ whatever the fuck THAT means.


You will be met with brittle coldness. I might even smile, but behind my eyes you will see a flash of something that scares you, something that I hope you will never understand.


I truly hope that you never are raped.

It is a hard thing to live with. 


I was repeatedly raped as a child by my grandfather. I have also been raped as an adult, a date/acquaintance rape sort of thing, which wasn’t as bad, but still not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.


Rape isn’t a game, and it isn’t a matter of winning or losing.

Rape is done by those who feel powerless in order for them to feel in control, powerful, for a brief moment in their pathetic lives. Rapists are NOT powerful, quite the opposite. 

Rapists NEED other people to rape in order to feel powerful, unlike a healthy man who feels powerful in himself without reliance on others, a healthy man who doesn’t need to feel power over others in order to feel secure about himself, a healthy man who can just be himself and try and be a good person, a man like that is strong in a way you will never achieve.


Truly, you are closer to a rapist, in that you need others to be shocked in order to feel powerful.

It must be hard for you, needing others reactions in order to form your own sense of identity.

That makes you very reliant on others, and I’d advise against it.


But of course, you won’t listen to me, because you lack the emotional comprehension and intelligence to understand anything other than your mindless inane thoughts.

I wonder what it is like, being so catastrophically unwise.


I’ll never know. I was raped as a child. I wasn’t given the choice of being like you. But even if I had been given that choice, I believe I would have chosen differently from you. I believe I would have been like the men and women who haven’t been raped yet still don’t make rape jokes or use the word rape lightly, men and women who don’t fully understand the experiences of a rape survivor, however they don’t need it spelled out for them as they have a very basic level of human empathy.


In short- if you use rape as a joke, you are not edgy or shocking, you are outing yourself as awfully dull, unimaginative, and a spoiled little child.

So by all means, keep using the word rape incorrectly. But do so knowing exactly what I, and other rape survivors, think of you. You aren’t shocking us. You bore us.

We don’t see you as powerful or strong.

We see, very clearly, that you are weak.

Advertisements

Amonkhet Sealed at Home – (The Best Way to play Magic the Gathering is in Your Pyjamas)

I played Amonkhet sealed at home last night. I didn’t make it to the pre-release last weekend. I had intended to go but my back was being crap again (see this article on my back pain) so I knew sitting in chairs would be very foolish, and decided to be sensible.

So, instead, on the day the set was released in Australia, I arranged for my husband and I to play sealed at home against one another. I’d had a ‘sad’ day so I was hoping to have some fun to improve my mood.
To be honest, I wasn’t excited at all about this set, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
Sealed is always good fun, it combines many things I love, cracking packs, sorting and organising cards, deckbuilding, and playing.
My husband picked up the product on his way home, a prerelease pack and a bundle.

en_IIv74HmPkd

We have bought a bundle for each set since Eldritch Moon (I like the little booklet) and it has become a tradition to open it up and affix the little ‘poster’ to its spot above the others on the bricks above our card storage area.

SML IMG_20170429_115706

I know I seemingly had an advantage as I got the pre-release card and my husband didn’t, so he had one less rare to work with, but keep in mind my husband is a much better player than I am, so it levelled the playing field somewhat.

We each set about making our decks, me in our bedroom upstairs, him downstairs, and our toddler entertained with dinner and a TV show.

My first thoughts upon opening the pre-release pack was that I loved the design. The box was so pretty. I couldn’t open it, because apparently cardboard defeats me.

SML IMG_20170429_115904

Once I got it open, I loved it much more than the Kaladesh and Aether Revolt pre-release packs, which are the only ones I have for comparison. The design was good. I accidentally closed it again while enjoying the prettiness of the box and then had to spend a great deal of time trying to open it again. After I opened it the second time I carefully folded the locking flaps back so I would not be defeated by flaps of cardboard a third time. I recommend this method to other cardboardically-challenged players.

Okay so let me talk about the blue spindown dice. I love it very much. It is blue and sparkly and pretty.

SML IMG_20170429_120542

But that’s not all. It is, story-wise, made from the Amonkhet mineral that is mined by mummies, lazotep.

274

This is an obvious nod to lapis lazuli which was one of the first minerals that was ever mined, and was held sacred by Ancient Egyptians, and used in many ways. It was ground into powder and used in elixirs for health, and as eyeshadow by Cleopatra. The stones decorated cartouches and sarcophagi.

6baf26e3bb1039c20bdc1ebb436a52fa

The blue was considered to represent the sky, and thus the gods, divinity, and purity, and thus royalty, given how royalty was linked to the gods. Now I am a big fan of lapis lazuli, because not only was it sacred to Isis, it was sacred to Ishtar/Inanna/Astarte who is her Sumerian/Babylonian precursor and just happens to be my favourite goddess.

220px-British_Museum_Queen_of_the_Night

So. I was very happy about the lazotep dice.

My pre-release card was the red card Sweltering Suns.

SML IMG_20170429_120223

My response was ‘meh… I hope I don’t have to be in red…’ It seemed okay, but I didn’t much care for it.
I opened the rest of my packs, sorting the cards into colours. By the 5th pack I noticed I had significantly more green cards than any other colours, which was interesting, usually it is a fairly even spread. Then on my final pack, the rare I opened? Vizier of the Menagerie.

SML IMG_20170428_205358

This is a card I was going to buy for my Yisan commander deck, so I was considerably happy.
I was also happy because I felt it would be great in limited. Okay, what creatures do I have? I wondered.
I got out all my green creatures, then looked at the other colour creatures. I immediately knew I didn’t have anything special in white. Then I looked at red, blue, and black. I was impartial and careful in my considerations, and I was happy that my conclusion was in alignment with my heart… The correct second colour for me, was black.
Black is my favourite colour to play, and green is my second favourite colour. I don’t typically enjoy mixing the two, but hey, limited.

I found because I wasn’t as hyped about the set, I wasn’t attached to any cards emotionally, and so I didn’t have to fight against any ‘feels’ influence. It made deckbuilding faster and easier. I just appraised the cards on their mechanics, as to be quite honest I don’t like most of the art for Amonkhet. To me it looks too homogeneous and lacks interest. Wrath of god is a notable exception,

Wrath-of-God-Invocations-Amonkhet-Spoiler

and I am sure there are other artwork that would stun me, but as a whole, I don’t enjoy the art of this set. I don’t enjoy the flavour. I’m a Sumerian/Babylonian fangirl, but have little interest in Ancient Egypt (as an aside, please, Wotc, one day make a Sumerian themed set? Pretty please with Gilgamesh on top and sprinkles?).

louvre-gilgamesh-epic

All this worked in my favour. I didn’t know the cards as well as the Kaladesh block, and this strangely was more of a benefit, as I had few preconceived notions of which were ‘good’ cards.
I had 3 of the 1 drop mummies that place a -1/-1 counter when they die, and included them.
When I was finished deckbuilding, I had something that I felt was very playable. I finished building much quicker than I have in previous sealed games I’ve played at home. I don’t know if that was due to luck of my pulls, because I lacked emotional investment, or maybe even because I am slowly becoming a better player. I like to imagine my swiftness was due to the last, but it was probably due to the first reason.

I forgot to take photos of my deck, but this was what was in it, from fairly reliable memory:

I got my lands (the full art is pretty) and my tokens (3x 2/2 zombies and 1x 3/3 hippo) and went downstairs.

My husband was surprised I was ready, he’d expected me to take longer. My son had finished his dinner and was watching TV (Dinosaur King is his current fave, it’s like Pokémon, but with dinosaurs).

key_art_dinosaur_king

My husband rolled out playmats on the floor. I’ve misplaced my Tolarian Community College playmat, which is upsetting and confusing, how do you even lose a playmat? It is probably under my bed. Yes, I am habitually messy.

As my husband arranged the playmats, my son came running up and said he wanted to play too, with his Pokémon cards. He has a very small collection of Pokémon cards, some of which are fakes I bought unwittingly at a discount store, and a handful which are real and were given to him by a very sweet pre-teen boy on the day Pokémon Sun and Moon came out, after my son saw him in the food court of the local shopping centre, pointed at his cards and said ‘Pokémon!’ and the boy looked at him and saw he was wearing star wars shirt and decided to give him some cards he was happy to part with. Yes, boys ARE the sweetest beings known to the universe.

So I fetched him his Pokémon cards, got him a tray, and he set up next to me.
“I want to help you, Mummy. Because I like you.” Well, then.

I drew an amazing hand for the first round, and won the dice roll. I had the Vizier, plenty of land, and a nice curve of creatures, as well as Never to Return for removal. I won that round, but more due to my husband not getting lands than anything else, I didn’t even get to play my Vizier.

Because my son wanted to play too he had turns attacking and we used spindown die to keep ‘life totals’ (and used an app to keep track of the actual life totals). My son chose to only ever attack my husband because he had decided he was helping me, like an adorable little sidekick.

SML IMG_20170428_184939

After my husband cast Compulsory Rest on my Crocodile of the Crossing, my son picked his Butterfree card and used it to make my husband’s Crocodile of the Crossing go to sleep, which my toddler was VERY pleased with himself about.

SML IMG_20170429_115542

I wish it had put it to sleep, because actually that crocodile wrecked me, and I lost the second round.
By then it was 7:30pm so we took a break while I settled my son to sleep, which took until 8:45pm and absolutely could have been a lot worse/later, plus I wound up making up a new bedtime story with him. After many protestations of ‘But, I’m not sleepy yet!’ he eventually snuggled up to my arm and fell asleep. I snuck out of his room in that stealthy ninja way that all parents do, and rejoined my husband downstairs for the final deciding battle.

21

My hand was alright but not amazing. It lacked some crucial lands, and the correct thing to do would have been to mulligan. It did have the Vizier in it though, and because I am greedy, I kept it.

Reader, I slaughtered him.

It felt good. My wins against my very clever, very logical husband are seldom, so I enjoy them when they do happen. As my ‘prize’ I got to open the 4 remaining packs from the bundle. We wound up getting another Vizier of the Menagerie. We sorted out our cards and put aside ones we personally wanted, and checked with each other that we didn’t want those cards. Our marriage is harmonious because we have vastly differing play styles, though we do occasionally clash over both liking to play green. My husband took the Decimator Beetle from my deck to go into his Atraxa Commander deck, and a few boring white cards (look, as far as I’m concerned, the only cool white cards are Kor), and one of the Viziers. I took one of the Viziers, and the Champion of Rhonas from my husband’s deck, and the Mouth to Feed card from my deck for my Yisan Commander deck.

yisan-the-wanderer-bard_1

I also took a few black cards I might enjoy using in my standard brews, and a Sixth Sense for enchantress brewing.

I put our rares away in a new binder page in our binder,

SML IMG_20170429_120244

and put away all the other cards into their standard colour boxes or the land and tokens box, as I am our households designated mtg card librarian (really, I have made a little ‘returns’ box and everything).

SML IMG_20170429_115927

I let my son have one of the Amonkhet dice because it made him smile, and that’s as good a reason as any to do anything. I have kept the other lazotep dice for myself so I can admire its shinyness and engage in Sumerian feels.

I greatly enjoyed this sealed format. I enjoyed the mechanics far more than I thought I would. -1/-1 counters are fun. The creatures can be stompy. I liked the exert mechanic, it slows the game down, but also gives you more time to consider your moves, which is helpful for me. Oh and with regards to exerting, my friend, the youtuber/streamer @MPNumbers on Twitter, had the good advice of turning a card upside down when you exert it, then moving it into tapped position on your next turn, to keep track of it. My husband and I used that process and it worked very well for us, so thanks for the idea buddy!

SML IMG_20170428_205350

I still don’t love this set. It isn’t Kaladesh, where I made D&d artificer and aetherborn characters before even the pre-release, but it is nevertheless an enjoyable limited format, one that I hope to play more drafts and sealed events of. I would encourage anyone who looked at Amonkhet and went ‘meh’ or ‘blergh’ or ‘shneah’ and decided to not bother with it, to give it a go.
You may just find that you gain New Perspectives on Amonkhet.

63

The Harper’s Song : Amonkhet Invocations

Oh Amonkhet,
Your Invocations only invoke our ire.
Your design has sunk to the dark depths
Beneath the fast-flowing river of twitter
Crocodiles swim over the top of it
We do not dare go near.
The river stretches wide
And though I shade my eyes
I can not read the text writ in the skies
I am blinded.
But not by the beauty I wished for.
If I look within I see the beauty of artists
Hammer and chisel they carved
Their piece of Amonkhet
To stand throughout the ages
And yet
Surrounding that heavenly art
Not a golden palace
But a death-shroud.
The words are loud, angry
They echo like a brass bell
And strike the ears of my soul
The names are of a language
Almost mine, but not.
And I can not read these words.
Oh, Amonkhet
I will never know
What your Invocations contain.

Magic the Gathering and Chronic Pain 

It is 1:30am and I am in pain.

It goes all down my right leg but radiates from a section in my lower back, one of the damned disc bulges. I live with chronic pain and illness, and, like many, I use Magic the Gathering as a form of distraction therapy.

Anyone who lives with chronic pain or illness knows that one way to deal with the sheer relentlessness of the pain or discomfort is to focus your mind elsewhere.

For me, if I focus on the pain, that makes me stressed and my muscles tense up, which is the opposite of what I need them to do. I need to relax. It is hard, when the pain is very bad, but I need to relax. And Magic the Gathering helps me do so.

I will often need to lie on the floor, with either a heat pack or cold pack on my back. The best thing for me is sleep, but sometimes sleep does not come. When that is the case I have a small device of wonderment, a modern ‘smart’ phone, which has connection to the internet, and hence all kinds of knowledge and sources of distraction.

My distraction of choice is Magic the Gathering because it feeds many different areas of my brain at once. Sometimes it is the community itself that helps take my focus away from the pain. On twitter, seeing Erin Campbell making one of her sassy comments about salami, or The Professor and Josh Lee Kwai engaging in good-natured ribbing makes me giggle, and laughter is a kind of medicine.

Other times I don’t want to interact with others, because pain can make me snappish, and I find solace in deck brewing. I use scryfall or MTG familiar (or both) and sometimes just lose myself in discovering cards I never knew existed, or setting myself a particular challenge (can I make a kithkin tribal deck? Let’s see!). I play about with the cards, and in doing so get a great insight into the history of the game and how it mechanically works. Increased knowledge and decreased pain. Win.

The thing about Magic is there are so many elements you can explore. There are articles, podcasts, videos, live streams, tumblr jokes, twitter rants, discord chats, facebook groups, reddit threads… all stemming from one thing: a passion and enthusiasm for a game that we share together.

From the community I often see messages of support for one another when times are hard. Be it a job loss, a break up, health problems- we all care for one another and extend compassion to one another. I think many of us use Magic the Gathering as a form of medicine in some way. Many of us are wounded.

Life is very hard sometimes, and having a world you can escape to that is full of wonder, and problems to solve, and things to build and create, and games to compete in and try to succeed, and people who celebrate you successes and commiserate with you on your losses- well, that is very helpful.

Thank you, Magic the Gathering, for helping me breathe through the pain. Thank you, person who also plays Magic the Gathering, for sharing this medicine with me.

It is 2:05am, and I am no longer in pain.

Hello World!

So I decided it was time to make my very own Gem of Magic blog for my writings that were too long to fit on Twitter.

Writing is a passion of mine, as is Magic the Gathering, and I have lately been finding myself writing little mini essays that I may as well share in case anyone else finds them helpful or interesting.

I am not a pro player, not even close, I play at a casual level, and the kinds of topics I write about tend to be about the game as a community rather than the nitty gritty nuts and bolts. 

That being said, I have a passion for deck-building and it is my aim to become a skilled deck-builder and share decklists with the magic community. 

Mostly I made this blog as a way to express my thoughts in a place where it isn’t likely to annoy anyone. I have a LOT of passion when it comes to Magic the Gathering, and I would love to share that passion with you.