In recent years, the world of video games and comic books has been shaken by a series of controversies over the treatment and depiction of women in these often insular communities. The latest incident culminated in the South by Southwest festival's terminating a panel on harassment in online gaming after a bunch of incensed male fans harassed them into canceling the event.
The fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering isn't immune to the turmoil. Since its inception in 1993, Magic has become a $200 million-a-year industry with roughly 20 million fans and tournaments that offer prizes as high as $40,000. The players, however, are predominantly male, and some of the few women to reach the highest tournament echelons have reported acts of hideous misogyny.
To combat these attitudes in the gaming world, West Philadelphia's Redcap's Corner recently initiated a weekly female-only Magic night at their Baltimore Avenue location.
"Certainly for a long, long time games in general have had this sort of boys' club stigma," says Redcap's co-owner Benn Roe. "One of our goals is trying to undo the damage this has caused. This is just to make sure that women know that this is a safe space, people are not going to tell you you don't belong here. We try to foster a community where our customers understand that misogyny does not have a place here."
The weekly gatherings started slow, with a trial tournament in August and regular nights on Sept. 21. About a dozen players have been turning out.
Roe says this weekly game night is only the first in a series of female-oriented events that Redcap's hopes to roll out in the near future. (They also have an LGBTQ board game night at the Baltimore Avenue shop on Thursdays.)
"Most of the women who showed up described it as one of the most comfortable environments they've ever played at," Roe says.
Ladies' Magic Night is Mondays at 6 at Redcap's Corner, 4812 Baltimore Ave.
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