Magic: The Gathering director addresses player gender disparity

Women's alleged dislike of competition and the hostile nature of the Magic: The Gathering's competitive environment could be a contributing factor to the gender skew of Magic players, senior director Aaron Forsythe said at the game's panel at PAX Australia today.

During the panel's Q&A, Forsythe was asked if he knew why there was a big gender skew in Magic players. The audience member asked: "There is a large disparity in the gender of Magic players, and while that might not have anything to do with the actual game and what you do, I'm very curious as to why that may be?"

"That's a tough one. It is getting better, recently, in the last few years, I believe," Forsythe said. "There are more women playing. I think, in general, the way we have sold Magic and what not, it is very competitive, it is a very competitive endeavour. And a lot of those halls are very testosterone fuelled — sitting around the table, beating the crap out each other for prizes — and without trying to stereotype gender, that is not necessarily something or an environment that women want to hang out in.

"Whether it's that they don't want to spend their time that way or it's hostile to them to some degree," he continued. "We are getting better about it. The gaming world is kind of notoriously bad for women and we are aware of that, we do what we can."

When the questioner shared how she was welcomed into Magic: The Gathering through the ladies league her local Magic distributor organized, Forsythe mentioned Jennifer "Tifa" Meyen, founder for the Lady Planeswalkers Society and brand manager for Magic. The society was founded by Meyen in Seattle to create a positive environment for women to play and learn Magic: The Gathering.

"It's great that there is a structure like that where women can enjoy themselves," he said. "There are a few female players that are doing really well, and they have inspired a new generation of players, and I think they are moving in the right direction."

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