By Dorian Grayson
“Magic: the Gathering” is a competitive trading card game. To be accurate, though, Magic is the competitive trading card game, at least on paper. Magic reaches surprisingly far with an international network of local game stores organizing weekly tournaments, a coverage team that streams hours of footage of a major competition each weekend and tournaments with prize pools in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dungeons and Dragons gets a lot of publicity for being the nerd game, but Magic is secretly close behind.
Recently, the Magic community went through what it seems every community is going through: revelations about harassment. One of the many creative aspects of the Magic community is cosplay, and Christine Sprankle was the most well-known Magic cosplayer. She has done work in the past with Wizards of the Coast, the company that makes the game. On Nov. 24, she tweeted that she was going to be leaving the Magic community due to harassment by Jeremy Hambly.
Hambley is a Magic YouTuber, running the channels “Unsleeved Media” and “The Quartering,” and is divisive among the community. Unlike more popular Magic YouTubers, Hambley considers himself a “critic” and makes videos about other members of the Magic community.
“This person happens to be a content creator for Magic: the Gathering, production and graphic design behind Vintage Super League and the Magic Online Championship. And she’s married to a Magic pro. So sometimes it’s not who you know but who you blow,” Hambley said in a video he made in response to a tweet. “I wouldn’t even rape you,” he said in another tweet in response to criticism.
If you’re recognizing those speech patterns and toxic responses, you’re not alone. It probably won’t surprise you that Hambley is very publicly a Trump supporter. This is a continuation of the culture divide we see at large. Hambley even uses the same fascist, alt-right dog whistles on his Twitter, such as Pepe memes and fascist underdog/silent majority rhetoric.
“Here is the thing about my fellow Shitlords. We have real numbers. Some would like to believe everyone who plays MTG is a SnowFlake. Nope,” Hambley wrote in a tweet.
“A war is coming. I am by far the underdog but what they don’t know is kek is on my side,” he said in another, inferring that his internet troll brethren will help him ‘fight’ fascist scapegoats like the ‘deep state.’
This is also representative of Hambley’s fans, who rabidly attack the targets of his videos after he posts them. A common tweet on his Twitter is a screenshot of a message that a notable Magic celebrity has blocked him with a one word insult, like “sexist” or “fascist.”
Major Magic content creators took this news and spread it, creating response articles and videos to hammer home that there needs to be a change in how the Magic community deals with harassment. Yet, in the comments of these responses, there is a clear divide between those who agree and those who don’t.
“Let me get this straight. A female player is slighted by some guy on the internet and the whole community rallies behind her. Yet in your mind, the community is unwelcoming of women? And people of color? Really? I don’t get it, I honestly don’t,” wrote Magic community member Kneip in a comment responding to an open letter from many professional Magic players on the issue.
The framing of minorities as over privileged whiners while using the backlash against intolerable behavior to excuse the behavior. As if people don’t need to be punished for crimes if everyone knows it’s a crime. As if the harassment was due to individuals instead of structures.
In this community, we’ve found the same thing everyone is facing right now: a cultural divide. If only it came with answers as to how to deal with it.