Exclusive Gaming – Let us Be Inclusive.

I recently have been a BIG fan of a card game called “Flesh and Blood” (Yes, I will be sharing some Deck Tech later on this blog.) Because of this, I frequently go to my local hobby store to play in various events. It can always be daunting to pick up a new card game or hobby, but I liked the concept enough to give it a try. Instantly, I was accepted into their group with many of them offering me advice, cards, and even a playmat to help me feel included. This was, truly, a magical experience for me as years of my local MTG community have worn down my trust in TCG Players.

However, despite being welcoming there was ALOT to learn about this new game and the language that is included in it. Within minutes I hear abbreviated words like “LL” or “CC” being tossed around. Decks referred to as “Red Lines” and multiple formats like “Blitz” and “PF” are mentioned. Sitting there, new to a hobby (which is rare for me if I am being honest) I felt alone despite how inclusive the group had been. The exclusive language alienated me, and the casual use of terms made it seem like I should already know what they are talking about despite just starting.

Years of gaming have taught me that there is an “inside speak” to almost every game community. While it is warranted to have to learn the language there is a level of inaccessibility created by exclusionary dialogue. This is, I have found, common in a variety of situations. Sports, Restaurants, and subcultures across almost every aspect of life do generate this level of in-speak to some extent. However, I think we need to take a moment to remember the importance of inclusivity in our dialogue, and while winning is good, inspiring others can often be more pivotal.

To me, there is nothing more demotivating than starting a new game only to get casually tossed by a veteran player. I get it, they have played for years and refined their desk and there is a reward to that work. That being said, no matter how welcoming or kind you are to new players that kindness is instantly lost when you roll your eyes and get annoyed by their “slow playing.” In some games, I have even seen “Judge” calls being made at casual events due to a new player’s misunderstanding of the rules.

These two concepts are connected, as the in-speak is equally as demotivating in the gameplay itself. Opponents automatically shift towards their default vocabulary when in game mode and will ask you questions like “Do you mind if I FP this phase” like you should know the answer. TCGs are not the only game that this becomes a problem in. D&D and TTRPGs often suffer from a similar effect with other players explaining complicated rulings to newbies, despite playing a rules-lite game.

All I am saying is when we are welcoming new players it might be good to talk like a human for a change. Assume they know very little, stop using abbreviations, and during the game maybe help improve their turn flow rather than just getting upset that they are stumbling around like a newborn deer. In some ways, they are newborns in a hobby of infinite possibilities.

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