A Further Debate Of Defining Casual
Re-Rebuttal to “Scrubs Corner”: Rebuttal to Casual Thinking by Shawn Houtsinger, dated Thursday, January 12, 2006
Let me preface this by stating that I have read, and enjoyed, the contribution titled “Defining Casual” by Eric Turgeon, dated Monday, January 9, 2006. I had no great issue with any broad-reaching statements offered by the author and was content to enjoy the piece as I believe it was offered; in a spirit of definition for a division commonly felt among ‘casual’ players when thinking seriously about ‘competitive’ players of the Magic: the Gathering collectible card game (hereinafter referred to as M:tG and CCG, respectively).
My intent with this re-rebuttal will be to further agree and expound on Mr. Turgeon’s work by offering my own insights and impressions. I will further examine the work offered by Mr. Houtsinger and offer insight and rebuttal there, as well.
By way of introduction, I offer that I have enjoyed the M:tG CCG game since late 1994 (specifically the Fall thereof, where I was introduced to it through a college friend). I have enjoyed the game in what I refer to as a ‘casual’ way for all these years and experimented with the ‘competitive’ side for perhaps a quarter of that time with a group out of Columbus, Ohio, entitled ‘The 888 Collective.’ I have, for the past two to three years, given up the ‘competitive’ side completely, although I remain on the groups mailing list, listening to the latest discussions, theory and plans.
Mr. Turgeon’s first point, that of the proliferation and pander offered by ninety-percent of the websites dedicated to the M:tG CCG, in one capacity or another, is spot-on and I agree with it completely. I would go a step further, honestly. ‘Competitive’ M:tG play is indeed all about rewards and compensation for time/money/effort invested. A sanctioned, DCI-based tournament has but two aims; to increase the winners’ revenue (either in the form of cash, product, or other compensation) or to increase the winners’ rating within the DCI ranking system. Having this kind of incentives, it proceeds logically that competition then becomes the focus; to establish a tiering (or pecking order) of players. No one wants to be on the low end of the totem pole, and thus you have more effort expended to try and move yourself further up the food chain.
When competition becomes the focus, one loses sight of many aspects of the game, concentrating by necessity on winning to the near-exclusion of all else. This is anathema to the casual perspective, at least as far as I interpret it for myself and how I conduct myself within the game.
I would further quote Mr. Turgeon’s list of what can be interpreted as various impressions of what it means to be casual here, however, I would be quoting his entire article and this was intended to be a largely original piece of work, proceeding from an established base. Suffice it to say that I agree, wholeheartedly, with Mr. Turgeon’s expounding paragraphs into what it means to be ‘casual.’
I take issue with Mr. Houtsinger’s response, however. And, moreover, I will be specific and I hope concise, so that there is little or no confusion about my intent and message.
Firstly, I take issue with the title “Scrubs Corner.” A ‘scrub,’ as I have been led to believe, is a sub-standard M:tG CCG player, one whose luck or skills (or both) are not up to snuff within the tournament scene, often finding themselves donating their money and rating points to better or luckier (or both) players. I base this on the impression from the statement, “To ‘scrub’ out,” that is to say, to perform inadequately, either by accident, design, lack of effort or skill. Therefore, it would proceed logically that Mr. Houtsinger sets himself up as a sub-standard player within the competitive arena. I say that Mr. Houtsinger must necessarily be a competitive player in that I have never been confronted with a casual player referring to themselves as a ‘scrub.’ It is a term I have only heard uttered within the tournament scene, never out of it. Ergo, I believe Mr. Houtsinger to still firmly place himself within the tournament and competitive scenes, something I believe to be somewhat contradictory to endorsement and contribution to this website, a website that by its defined name is dedicated to the casual.
I mention this because I feel it to be the underlying problem with Mr. Houtsinger’s complete misinterpretation of Mr. Turgeon’s article. While this may be enough to refute Mr. Houtsinger’s article, by itself and taken as a whole, it is my wish to continue to become more specific.
Although Mr. Houtsinger never clearly states in his opening lines of text, I will proceed with the assumption that when he uses the name “Eric,” he is referring to Mr. Turgeon, the author of the original article. If this assumption turns out not, in fact, to be correct a great deal more of Mr. Houtsinger’s article will be nonsensical than was previously believed.
Mr. Houtsinger goes to great lengths to label himself a ‘hater,’ that is ‘one who hates or performs actions with the impetus of hate.’ More specifically, Mr. Houtsinger, I believe, wishes to set himself up as a universally negative writer, one who enjoys bringing discord and argument into an otherwise neutral or positive environment. Although it was not as difficult to make this leap of logic, translating the early bits of text thrown onto the page by Mr. Houtsinger was.
Mr. Houtsinger’s message, as stated in one of the few discernible bits of narrative, was that the point of the M:tG CCG, as a game, was to win. That winning was, in fact, the one and only goal of the M:tG CCG. This line of reasoning, as has been stated, I believe to be the directly attributable cause of Mr. Houtsinger’s rebuttal to Mr. Turgeon.
If we take Mr. Houtsinger’s message to be that winning is the goal of the game, then we can by definition see him as a competitive player, that to him there is no other goal to the game (by his own definition). For the competitive player, it is my impression that there is no other goal to the game than to win.
If we take Mr. Turgeon’s message to be that winning should never be the goal of the game, then we can by definition see him as a casual player, that to him there are boundless other goals to the game (by his definition). For the casual player, it is my impression that there are myriad other goals to the game than to win.
In understanding the issue in terms stated above, it was my intent to illustrate that Mr. Houtsinger is indeed a competitive player enforcing a competitive viewpoint upon a definition of what it means to be a casual player. It was further my intent to illustrate that Mr. Turgeon is indeed a casual player expounding on his own casual viewpoint, attempting a definition of what it means to be a casual player. I hope my intent has been realized, here, at the conclusion of this article.
Thank you for your time and I hope to submit more articles to this site in the future.