Today we’ve got something a bit different for you all, and something which hits close to home for many. Magic is a very taxing game mentally, and as we’ve discussed in some of our previous articles, enjoyment in magic is often linked with results, commonly with unsavoury outcomes. But, while magic is a competitive game, it is also a social game by design and has an incredible power to bring people together. The first Master of Magics, Abbie, knows this better than most, and today she’s going to discuss her relationship with the game and its players, and how a detachment from either has affected her relationship with the game and the community.
In 2017 I left a job I loved because it didn’t pay the bills, the store was on the edge of closing, and I was the last of the staff. I held on to hope for far longer than was sustainable. I was responsible for building a Magic community there, I ran amazing events and taught and inspired hundreds of people to play Magic. I did everything I could for that community, and I loved them all so much. My own money and time went into it all. The entire experience was also key in helping me through the loss of my Mum and fleeing an awful long-term relationship. I think grief made me love more and put “the pack” before myself, and I think I really needed it.
I eventually left and got another, similar job; I was headhunted. At the shop, we were worried about whether we could even stay open, and in the midst of it all, a sign falls into my lap during an event. There was hope and I had to take it. I needed money desperately, and I figured I could do it all again somewhere new, be a part of their community, and help bring positivity and good memories to others through games, be it helping kids build social skills or allowing adults to enjoy well-deserved time for themselves. I heavily promoted gaming as a form of [unofficial] therapy with great results.
I was wrong. I think that’s when I started to lose my spark. Don’t get me wrong, the job was fine, and the people were great, but there was just a huge hole in my heart. The community was different. The job was different. It wasn’t home. Home and family was something I had taken from me multiple times before, and this time I had given it up so I could feed myself.
I tried to fill that hole, but nothing worked. I lost motivation and energy to try, and I ended up working many other jobs between then and now and committed myself to being a cog in the machine. My life lost meaning. I no longer have the energy to be anything else. That spark I had is gone, completely, and I can’t get it back.
I say all of that because, in losing that, I lost the reason why I loved Magic. I loved it because of the beautiful local community. The change I was able to make, the joy and memories I could help cultivate. Magic was more than just a game. Obviously the community is still there – it merged and split. A decent number started going to another store that I love. But I just can’t be that person there. Back in my old job, I was able to be 100% me and run the show, but now that me doesn’t fit anywhere.
In comes imposter syndrome. As our website started to grow a little more, imposter syndrome came barging in. I can’t remember all of the cards or sets. I’m not winning events. I’ve not played long enough. What if someone calls me out. I’m not good enough – that ones from my school years.
As an example, Channel Fireball asked me to join in a game show at an event. At first, I tried to convince them to let one of the MoM writers to go in my place, but they insisted on me. Then comes the actual game show. Now I know it was all just fun, and honestly, I doubt anyone remembers it, but when my partner didn’t know the answers he’d throw it on me. No one knew a bunch of the answers, and overall it was supposed to be difficult and silly, but I felt like I had failed. There was the fear of being called out, and I was right there and I didn’t know the answers. Some unknown girl, on stage, not proving her worth, wearing the heavy crown that is “women in gaming”.
(To make myself feel a bit better, I was the only one that remembered tribal as a card type, and I didn’t even answer that one myself.)
In every game I played and every conversation I had, fear, imposter syndrome, and depression gripped me. I couldn’t live up to the impossible standards I set myself. All the events I came second in, the GPs I couldn’t day two, the games I lost because of silly mistakes. Worse than all of that was when my thoughts came to life, when men would cut me down for being female.
In one event I got free entry for being a content creator. It was a limited event, and in general, I only play limited casually. I mentioned this to someone I knew through one of the vendors, and he asked me: “Why waste your money if you’re only playing casually?” I told him I got free entry, and he loses his shit. I’m not joking, word vomit literally poured out of this guy while I stood there in silence. He started spouting things like “tits get you free stuff”, etc. etc. etc., then says “why do you even deserve that?”
Imposter syndrome sucks and so do angry people.
I can probably count how many games I’ve played in public since then on one hand.
Imposter syndrome sits in the back of your mind, and pairs awfully nicely with depression. It tells you you’re not good enough, it tells you you’re a fake and that everyone is about to find out. It reminds you just how much is on your shoulders. I hate being put on a pedestal as a woman in Magic for this reason. If I ever mess up, not only will I let myself down, but I’ll let down every woman in the game.
In stepping out of the spotlight, not only have I alienated myself from the community, but I have stopped being involved with Magic. I can’t remember the last game I played. I can no longer hold a conversation about Magic. I can no longer say I love Magic, and that makes me feel lost. In leaving that job in 2017, I feel like I’ve lost all purpose, and that hole in my heart will remain empty.
Thank you all for reading. Apologies for the heavy topic today, but mental health is incredibly important to us here at Master of Magics, having had a significant impact on a number of people on the team. As such, it is a topic that is very close to our hearts, and we feel it is vital to maintain an open and judgement-free discourse surrounding it within the community. We hope that some of our articles have gone some way to helping you all better understand your fellow magic player and to better understand yourselves.
Anyway, enough of the serious stuff. The rest of this week will be business as usual, so keep your eyes peeled for more articles coming soon!