Tag Archives: gaming news

God Of War And Red Dead Redemption 2 Lead BAFTA Nominations; See The Full List

This year’s British Academy Games Awards are happening soon, and BAFTA has now revealed the full list of nominations for 2019. God of War leads the way with 10 nominations, while there are six nominations each for Red Dead Redemption 2, Florence, and Return of the Obra Dinn. Celeste, meanwhile, is up for five awards.

The most prestigious award handed out at the ceremony–which takes place on April 4 in London–is the Best Game award. The nominees for that category are Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, and the aforementioned quartet of Celeste, God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Return of the Obra Dinn. British Game, meanwhile, will be contested by 11-11: Memories Retold, Forza Horizon 4, Red Dead Redemption 2, The Room: Old Sins, Overcooked 2, and Two Point Hospital.

The awards are voted on by BAFTA membership. The only award decided by the public is Mobile Game of the Year, which you can vote for here. The nominees for that are Brawl Stars, Clash Royale, Fortnite, Old School Runescape, Pokemon Go, and Roblox.

You can see the full list of nominees below. Which games do you think should win? Let us know in the comments!

BAFTA Game Awards Nominations 2019

Artistic Achievement

  • Detroit: Become Human
  • Gris
  • God of War
  • Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Audio Achievement

  • Battlefield V
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • God of War
  • Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Tetris Effect

Best Game

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
  • Celeste
  • God of War
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

British Game

  • 11-11: Memories Retold
  • Forza Horizon 4
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • The Room: Old Sins
  • Overcooked 2
  • Two Point Hospital

Debut Game

  • Beat Saber
  • Cultist Simulator
  • Donut County
  • Florence
  • Gris
  • Yoku’s Island Express

Evolving Game

  • Destiny 2
  • Elite Dangerous
  • Fortnite
  • Overwatch
  • Sea of Thieves
  • Rainbow Six Siege

Family

  • Lego The Incredibles
  • Nintendo Labo
  • Overcooked 2
  • Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu / Eevee
  • Super Mario Party
  • Yoku’s Island Express

Game Beyond Entertainment

  • 11: Memories Retold
  • Celeste
  • Florence
  • Life is Strange 2
  • My Child Lebensborn
  • Nintendo Labo

Game Design

  • Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
  • Celeste
  • God of War
  • Into the Breach
  • Minit
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Game Innovation

  • Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
  • Celeste
  • Cultist Simulator
  • Moss
  • Nintendo Labo
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Mobile Game

  • Alto’s Odyssey
  • Brawl Stars
  • Donut County
  • Florence
  • Reigns: Game of Thrones
  • The Room: Old Sins

Multiplayer

  • A Way Out
  • Battlefield V
  • Overcooked 2
  • Sea of Thieves
  • Super Mario Party
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Music

  • Celeste
  • Far Cry 5
  • Florence
  • God of War
  • Gris
  • Tetris Effect

Narrative

  • Florence
  • Frostpunk
  • God of War
  • Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Original Property

  • Dead Cells
  • Florence
  • Into the Breach
  • Moss
  • Return of the Obra Dinn
  • Subnautica

Performer

  • Christopher Judge as Kratos in God of War
  • Danielle Bisutti as Freya in God of War
  • Jeremy Davies as The Stranger in God of War
  • Melissanthi Mahut as Kassandra in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Roger Clark as Arthur Morgan in Read Dead Redemption 2
  • Sunny Suljic as Atreus in God of War

Mobile Game Of The Year (Public Award)

  • Brawl Stars
  • Clash Royale
  • Fortnite
  • Old School Runescape
  • Pokemon Go
  • Roblox

Source: GameSpot.com

Fortnite “Undo Purchase” Button Coming

A new update for Epic’s popular battle royale game Fortnite will introduce a button that allows players to undo a purchase. This is above and beyond Epic’s earlier plan to introduce a refund token system. With the “undo” button, players will be able to do just that–undo a purchase. However, there is a small catch.

After making a purchase, you can undo it within a five-minute time window. Another thing to be aware of is that you won’t be able to use the undo functionality if you start a match after the purchase.

Explaining the new feature on Reddit, an Epic engineering developer said, “We neither want to add friction for players nor do we want to benefit from accidental purchases or players regretting a purchase.”

“As an ongoing iteration, we are going to introduce an ‘undo’ button to the store page that allows you to easily refund without using up a token within a 5-minute time window, assuming you haven’t started a match since purchase,” it added.

There is no word on when the “undo” button will be added to Fortnite.

As a free-to-play game, Fortnite relies in part on microtransactions for its sustained growth and to fund new features and content over time. The game reportedly makes lots and lots of money from microtransactions, and it’s nice to see the developer now taking steps to help those who accidentally buy something.

In other Fortnite news, the game’s new 8.10 update is out now–you can see the full patch notes here to find out everything that’s new.

Source: GameSpot.com

The Way Is Shut

Sean Evans is an artist who used to work at Rockstar, and is based in San Diego.

Most of the stuff below is for an unsuccessful pitch to Netflix for a Norse mythology series called Midgard: Daughter of Odin.

You can see more of Sean’s work at his personal site.


Source: Kotaku.com

Shigeru Miyamoto Is Now Nintendo’s Dad

Photo: Stephen Lam (Getty)

Former Kotaku UK boss Keza MacDonald got to interview Nintendo’s Shinya Takahashi and Hisashi Nogami over at The Guardian, and while the entire thing is a joy to read, there’s one part in particular—about what it’s like working with the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto in 2019—that I thought stood out.

Because he’s now serving as a creative guide for the entire company (a role he’s been in since 2015), and not just on single games or series, it can be tougher seeing just where Miyamoto’s influence has made its mark than it used to be.

But Takahashi and Hisashi are able to shed some light:

“He is not involved in the minute details of development, but does oversee entire projects and identifies major issues: this part is bad, this part is bad, THIS part is bad … ” laughs Takahashi. “If he says something’s good, it’s rare, and you know it is. He’s actually a shy person – even when he thinks something is well done, he would not often say that to someone directly.”

“I have never once been praised by Mr Miyamoto,” Nogami chimes in, deadpan.

“Perhaps not to your face, but behind your back he’s very pleased with you,” Takahashi laughs.

In other words, he’s now just everyone’s dad. Which is as expected and perfect as you’d imagine.

The full interview, which covers 130 years of Nintendo history but especially loads of hardware and development anecdotes, is definitely worth your time.

Source: Kotaku.com

New Shooter Wants To Be A 1980s Battlefield Game

Rising Storm creators Antimatter Games are working on a new title called ‘83, which is set during the Cold War and is hoping to have battles featuring over 80 players duking it out as infantry, drivers and pilots.

Who knows if they’ll be able to pull off something of that scale, but Rising Storm had a few vehicles and was fun, so that’s a start! Plus the whole alternate history 1980s Cold War thing is weirdly under-played in video games, the wonderful World in Conflict (and a handful of other random strategy games) notwithstanding.

Source: Kotaku.com

F-14 Flight Sim Does A Perfect Top Gun Impression

The famous F-14 is currently in early access for the Digital Combat Simulator platform, and while most people playing are doing so very seriously, some are out here doing the obvious: remakes of the intro to Top Gun.

Adrián Caparzo is to thank for this amazing video, which isn’t quite shot-for-shot (there aren’t crewmembers on the deck of DCS’ carrier), but is still pretty damn close given the limitations of what he’s working with. This is a super hardcore flight sim, not Garry’s Mod.

Please stick around after Danger Zone for some hot Mighty Wings dogfighting.

About the author

Source: Kotaku.com

Hypnospace Outlaw is a hilarious satire on internet stupidity and venality

Hypnospace Outlaw is a flawless piece of historical fiction, a savage work of contemporary satire, and a genuinely tricky puzzle game.

Set entirely in a late ’90s Geocities-like online hub called Hypnospace, it tasks the player with working as a community enforcer, administering a code of behavior across its user-created pages. These ugly websites are populated by a diverse cast of internet archetypes extant in the ’90s, as now. My job is to take down copyright infringers, virus makers, hackers, scammers, and trolls.

I interact with them in ways similar to mechanics in other politically charged games, like Papers, Please and Orwell, gathering information through observation. I look through their websites and I decide if they are breaking the rules. I can delete stuff from their pages, and I can report them for greater punishment, such as a ban.

At first, it’s a simple case of trawling a few dozen websites and handing down infringement notices. But I’m soon required to take a more investigative approach, ferreting out passwords, connections, and relationships. My tools are basic: trial and error, lateral thinking, guesswork.

Hypnospace is owned and run by a pair of brothers who epitomize a Silicon Valley-inspired credo of amorality and greed. They speak to the pre-2000 generation of manic, cynical entrepreneurs. But they’re also powerfully reminiscent of our own era’s social media magnates.

The main story tracks how Hypnospace’s management is preparing for the Y2K bug: by larding its anti-virus software with expensive features and launching a weird new game. This unfolds among a host of mini-plots centered around the individual pages of Hypnospace’s users, who gather in poisonous hubs dedicated to their own obsessions.

Hypnospace Outlaw - Squisher 2
A bad online game in Hypnospace Outlaw.
Tendershoot, Michael Lasch, ThatWhichIs Media/No More Robots

We experience these people through their sad, desperate webpages, complete with typographical horrors, ghastly animations, and execrable grammar. They present as a carnival parade of monomaniacs, loners, idealists, and criminals. Their woeful websites are a genuinely funny joke, featuring wild conspiracy theories, bad social games, and crass attempts at online villainy.

But they are also human beings with their own failings and charms. Their tales coalesce to form a deeply engaging narrative.

Even if the atmosphere and detail of the game is super 1999, the activities of these netizens are familiar to all of us, who live with social media today. Hypnospace’s users strive to persuade, coerce, bully, and bribe their way toward a disparate set of goals, including saving souls, scamming a buck, and attaining fame.

They live in an internet age that we now view through the lens of cozy nostalgia. But while the fonts and memes hark back to a different world, the behavior patterns are no different from our own.

This is why Hypnospace Outlaw is one of the best pieces of historical fiction that I’ve ever seen in games. It’s ferocious in its dedication to recreating the past, while never losing sight of the present. It’s packed with great jokes, but they’re just as likely to be teasing you and me now as they are the versions of us who might have lived online in the late ’90s.

As an overarching challenge, Hypnospace Outlaw has its own rhythms. The puzzles can be incredibly tough. There are times when I feel great, because I’m making progress. And there are times when I feel like an idiot, because I’m getting nowhere.

I expend a lot of effort trying out wacky solutions until I find the right one. Like all good puzzle games, it can be frustrating and dispiriting. It can also be wonderfully fulfilling. As I progress, the story unfolds, offering up new narrative delights, more jokes, and more nostalgia. I think it’s worth playing, even if you cheat a little and peek online at some of the more esoteric solutions.

Hypnospace Outlaw is one of those games that deserves not merely to be played, but also to be treated as an opportunity to think about our digital lives, now and then. It’s a perplexing, clever piece of work. As they might have said back in the ’90s, it’s totally dope.

Hypnospace Outlaw is now available on Linux, Mac, and Windows PC. The game was reviewed on Windows using a final “retail” Steam download code provided by No More Robots. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

Source: Polygon.com

Fallout 76’s New Booze Questline Offers A Fun Reason To Return

Fallout 76’s seventh major patch Wild Appalachia arrived today and with it comes a host of changes. There are the usual fixes and improvements, but the new update also includes some new content that helps bring some life back into the game’s previously stagnant world.

The biggest new addition is a quest called Wasted on Nukashine that encourages you to perfect the art of brewing some Nuka-Cola-infused hooch for a drunken robot named Biv. This robot, by the way, has spent the last few decades stumbling about in the basement of a tattoo parlor that had been converted into a speakeasy by some students at the nearby university who were tired of the cops constantly busting up their keggers. The setup is sort of like Animal House meets Weird Science, minus all of the teenage perviness or other characters.

Like previous quests in the game, most of the story is relayed through computer terminals, hand-written notes, and old holo-tapes. It’s entertaining and at times funny, but it’s also shallow. It doesn’t offer a deeper window into Fallout 76’s world, unlike some of the better quests from the main campaign like discovering what happened to the girl at Riverside Manor or the main beat in the Overseer’s journey. . What it does do, however, is provide you with the means to make your own booze by way of a new crafting station, the blueprints for which you receive from the robot after you complete the quest.

This new booze system is the real draw. At the start you can make a handful of beers, wines, and liquors using ingredients like corns, wheat, and boiled water. Once you finish compiling the ingredients for a given drink, it needs to be placed in a fermenter for a certain period of time. The longer it sits there, the stronger its effects become. You can even place other bottles of booze you’ve found during your travels into the fermenter to age them as well. The effects go beyond just drunkenness. Drinking the aged version of Firecracker Whiskey, for example, will allow you to set enemies on fire when you attack them. This is effectively a potion system, with the option to get more new recipes by completing daily challenges for Biv. And since it’s all alcoholic, there’s no need to worry about it spoiling. 

The update also rebalances energy weapons to try and make them more useful. After fiddling around with them for an hour, it’s clear to me that they’ve gotten better, but they still feel like more trouble than they’re worth. Improvements like a 10% buff to semi-automatic energy weapons are nice to see, but that’s probably not going to fundamentally shift the existing balance of power in favor of them.

Across the dozens of changes, there are a few other interesting additions, like the ability to craft radios for your campsite. This goes a long way toward making them feel less lonely. Bethesda has also added a reporting system into the game’s social menu to provide another option for dealing with people who are harassing or griefing other players, beyond just blocking them or hopping to a new server. The new update also makes it so that every legendary creature is guaranteed to drop a legendary item when it dies, which, well, finally.

While getting new content, good balance tweaks, and continued quality-of-life improvements is all swell, but it can still sometimes be a struggle to play Fallout 76, at least on Xbox One. While checking out today’s update, my game froze once, and there’s still a ton of stuttering and pop-in after loading up the game for the first time and occasionally when fast-traveling to new locations. The game is infinitely more playable than it was at launch, but it still has noticeable struggles with performance.

There are still quite a few more updates planned for the coming months, though, including the addition of a new, harsher PVP mode on March 26 and personal vending machines players can use to sell stuff to one another on April 9. I don’t know if any of those upcoming additions will ever be able to fill in the narrative void at the center of the game, but I’m glad to have a fresh set of reasons to come back and visit.

Source: Kotaku.com

Dauntless patch adds a new monster to hunt

Dauntless is a new monster-hunting game from developer Phoenix Labs. The studio released Dauntless into early access last year, and we quite enjoyed its early offerings. At the 2018 Game Awards, Phoenix Labs announced that Dauntless will come to the Epic Games Store and to consoles soon.

In preparation for launch, Phoenix Labs is updating Dauntless regularly. The latest patch adds a new Behemoth, reworks an old weapon, and ushers in a third Hunt Pass for players interested in cosmetics.

Design director Hunter Howe and associate producer Ian Tornay spoke to Polygon about the new additions, and how they’ll use them to augment Dauntless.

New Behemoth and minion tech

The Boreus is Dauntless’ newest Behemoth to slay. Big and frozen, the Boreus adds something new: minions. Instead of fighting a single monster, the Boreus brings a pack of allies with it. Of course, the monster will have its own means of defending itself as well.

The minions around Boreus come in a few flavors. The Stalkers are melee creatures that protect Boreus at close range. Spitters defend Boreus from afar, and Bombers explode to protect their pack leader. The explosion of the Bomber can also deal damage to other minions.

Minions are new to Dauntless, and present new possibilities for future content updates. Howe said that they’ll likely spread this tech to other aspects of the game. In the future, players may run into small monster packs as they hunt their Behemoth.

Phoenix Labs

Upgraded hammer

One of Dauntless’ six weapons, the hammer, is being reworked in this patch. It’s a mix between a traditional hammer and a shotgun. According to Howe, the previous version of the hammer was difficult to use correctly, and lacked the strategy of other weapons.

Phoenix Labs removed the difficult-to-use quad blast in favor of a new slam ability. When players slam their hammer, they’ll empower their shotgun ammo. Slamming again with empowered ammo will deal even more damage to the Behemoth.

Hunt Pass season 3

Phoenix Labs first introduced the Hunt Pass last year, in its Game Awards update. Like other battle passes, Dauntless’ Hunt Pass is cosmetic focused. Players can purchase one each season for thematic rewards. Phoenix Labs calls the most recent update Overgrowth.

The cosmetics in season 3 are druidic. This look already exists in Dauntless for an NPC faction called Farslayers. Tornay explained that the team drew on the Farslayer design thanks to community feedback, and interest in the existing character.

Hunt Pass season 3 is the first that offers players a full armor and weapon set transmog. This includes the first new look for Dauntless’ pistol weapons: the Ostian repeaters.

The Overgrowth update, along with Boreus and the updated hammer, are already live in Dauntless. The game is currently free-to-play, and only accessible from its own launcher. Phoenix Labs will move Dauntless exclusively to the Epic Games Store on PC and consoles later this year.

Source: Polygon.com

The Makers Of Magic: The Gathering Say They’re Trying To Make It Less Of A Boys Club

Photo: Josh Reynolds (AP Images)

When-23-year-old Jess Estephan made history with her team as the first woman to win a Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix last year, press and the Wizards of the Coast mothership were thrilled. Grands Prix are the largest Magic tournaments in the world—over the course of three days, aspiring pros descend upon a convention hall to grind through a grueling Swiss bracket for cash prizes and promo cards. You’d think Estephan would be equally as elated—but that’s not how she described the first few days after her victory.

“After we won, I was not happy,” she wrote in a blog post for Magic community conclave Channel Fireball four months later. “I spent days having panic attacks and feeling terrified whenever a notification popped up on my phone. I turned my phone off to try and concentrate on work. I begged friends to stop showing me the hateful comments. I closed my DMs on Twitter and unfollowed people to revoke messaging privileges…I was called fat and ugly, with many iterations of both. I was told I didn’t deserve the attention and the win because I wasn’t a photogenic physical ideal. In other words, screw the hard work I’d put in—I wasn’t pretty enough to be good at a game I loved.”

The shock and trauma of the championship sent her into a doleful state—not eating or sleeping, and feeling far less confident than usual. What eventually rallied Estephan were the spare messages of encouragement from other women that share her dream. They reminded her that no matter what anyone else says, she’s the one with the Cup.

“It reminded me of why I’d started doing all of this in the first place. If I gave up now, they’d win,” continued Estephan. “On a personal level, I promised myself that I’d take this and become a better person too. At this point, I’d spent a lifetime trying to prove myself. To whom or what? To everyone who told me I couldn’t.”

Today, Estephan is undeterred. She’s inked a sponsorship deal to stream the free-to-play Magic The Gathering: Arena, Wizards of the Coast’s ambitious attempt to buy into the esports industry and supplant Hearthstone as Twitch’s card game du jour. But her fraught rise to fame is an effective symbol of what Wizards finds itself up against as we enter Magic’s 26th year as a commercial product: Estephan remains a stark minority in her field.

Mark Rosewater, head designer for Magic: The Gathering, estimated in 2015 that 38 percent of the game’s playerbase identifies as female. Despite that, Meghan Wolff, a community voice and organizer, ballparked that women constituted between “one and five percent” of the game’s competitive scene. In December, when Wizards of the Coast unveiled the roster for the first season of its ambitious Magic Pro League, each of the 32 invitees were men. There’s a roadblock somewhere in the ecosystem. What happens to the other 32-plus percent?


Simone Aiken, a lifelong Magic player, has a highly specific approach to the problem of increasing women’s participation in Magic tournaments: If more women play, more women will win.

Aiken’s approach has roots in a study the Royal Society published in 2009. Its conclusion is that the lack of female chess grandmasters can be almost entirely blamed on participation rates. If you plot the raw numbers of men and women competing in competitive chess on a bell curve, the stats shake out evenly independent of demographics. “In chess, there’s 16 men for every woman. That’s way better than Magic. We have 50 men for every woman,” she said, over the phone. “You’re not going to see very many women at the top of chess simply because the population is smaller. The study said that 96 percent [of the disparity] was completely explainable by relative numbers, as if you were taking left-handedness, or green eyes.”

It’s a revelation that shouldn’t come as a surprise unless you believe in the questionable phrenology of the superior Male Gamer Brain, but it’s given Aiken a concrete target: Increase the basic participation rates in Magic tournaments, and non-male winners will follow. Simple as that. It’s a reassuringly approachable formula.

So in 2017, she started Play It Forward, which could be reasonably described as a “Magic nonprofit.” Its praxis is simple; at every Grand Prix, Play It Forward offers a supplementary prize for women and nonbinary competitors: Of that group, the player who makes it the farthest takes home a custom-designed playmat and is immortalized on the Play It Forward website.

If the mechanics and metagaming of Magic aren’t keeping women out of the competitive scene, the blame likely falls on issues of social bias. Autumn Burchett, a nonbinary player who won the Mythic Championship 1 in Cleveland back in February, said via email that it’s always going to be an alienating experience to be one of the very few non-male players at a tournament. “This leads to women and non-binary people not going to competitive Magic events, which in turn makes it hard for them to start attending the next set of events when they see that the situation hasn’t improved at all,” they said. Burchett explained that this environment brings out unfortunate cultural deterrents.

“For example, I’ve heard stories of women being unable to find players they trust that they can share hotel rooms with because the men who they’d be sharing with have girlfriends that would be uncomfortable with this,” they continued. “The women players in this scenario can’t room with others as easily as a result and end up having to pay a lot more for accommodation, which presents an economic barrier that affects men less and means that women on average aren’t able to afford to attend as many tournaments. These sorts of barriers are really subtle and hidden until you’re actually in that position or know someone who has been.”

This is what Aiken is trying to change. She wants to counter those negative incentives with something that non-male players can get excited about the next time they’re at a weekend GP.

“Most of us are the best women players in our local communities, and we’re kind of used to being the best woman in the room. You get lazy. It’s a trap of low expectations. Everyone says, ‘Oh yeah, Simone is amazing,’ and there’s this unspoken, ‘for a girl.’ You internalize it,” she said. “[Now] you’re motivated, you want to come out, because you want to get the playmat, or some are trying to get their second. You see huge changes. I hear people saying, ‘Before, I only went to one Grand Prix a year, and now I’m going to three or four.’ Even if we’re not getting new players, the best guys are going to 15 to 20 GPs. So we’re getting a larger population and greater participation.”

Of course those institutional problems shouldn’t distract from some of the more direct prejudices. Talk to any women in Magic, and they can recall a bad attitude, or a lecherous intention, that’s turned them off from the scene. Those experiences add up. It’s hard to fall in love with a game without a sense of solidarity from your practice partners, which can have a chilling effect on the global Magic competitive field.

Where demographics particularly swoon, explains Aiken, is in card games like poker and Magic. Not only is the environment in a card room less inviting than an open range, but a significant part of success in Magic is left up to chance. That opens the door to some uncharitable interpretations regardless of whether a woman wins or loses a match. “You can try your hardest, you can play perfectly, and you can still lose. And when you lose, and you’re the woman, you’re going to have a lot of people saying, ‘It’s not because mana screw happens, it’s because you’re bad at Magic,’” she said. “And when you win… You get people writing you nasty emails about how you totally lucked out.”

Teresa Pho, an aspiring Magic pro in Cincinnati who attended her first Grand Prix in 2017, cut to the root of these issues when I called her to ask if there’s anything specific about the competitive Magic infrastructure she’d like to see improved for women. In short, she’s looking for a role model.

“I think a lack of mentorship is a barrier for women,” said Pho. “I think it’s really hard for us to find other good, competitive players that want to see us grow and succeed and hit that really high-level place. That’s an area that’s really lacking.”

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Demographic barriers keep women from getting started in competitive Magic, which means precious few women orbit to top-of-tournament brackets. When Pho got her start, there wasn’t the same bulwark of pros willing to take her under their wing as there is for male pros. The situation is likely to stay that way until the same traditions and institutions are established for female players—and with it remains the question of what should be done.


Elaine Chase, the vice president of esports at Wizards of the Coast, is aware of all these issues. Representation is a corporate priority, she said in a call, and the company has made a concerted effort to increase the diversity of the on-camera interview and analysis talent of Magic tournament broadcasts. “We saw our numbers go up in those events, more women playing,” she explained. “We looked at our competitive structures themselves, and we put more emphasis on the community gathering [around Grands Prix]. The Grand Prix tournament is still the showcase of the event that happens that weekend, but tons of people show up that don’t even play. They’re there to meet friends, or do side events and things like that. The more that women show up, the more it becomes normalized.”

Wizards has been trying to lay a groundwork for representation for at least the past few years. They even tapped two prominent women from the competitive scene, Jackie Lee and Melissa DeTora, to design and balance new cards. Those hirings were actually met with some mild, good-hearted abrasion from Magic players; two of the best women in the world, who exhibited the best chances for a non-male player to scale the competitive circuit, were plucked from organized play for good. (Chase understands that, but she reiterates how important it is to keep the internal culture of Wizards diverse.)

When I reached out to Estephan for comment over email, she was adamant that she’s been mostly satisfied with how the company has established its ethics.

“[Wizards] really dedicated themselves to increasing both visibility and representation within the community at higher levels of play, which is really important. Seeing women both on coverage and on commentary has been wonderful, and a personal driver in my engagement within the competitive scene,” she wrote. “It would be great to see more women involved in high-level Magic, and to see more women competing. I believe that the aforementioned visibility and representation is a key to increasing these numbers.”

However, that 32 men were invited to the Magic Pro League seemed incongruent with those ideals. For a game that’s been around for so long, it was strange that Wizards didn’t bridge the gender divide in one of their biggest competitive investments ever. Chase told me that this was a question she agonized over.

“It was very serious consideration. We had a lot of different approaches how to build that roster, but at the end of the day we decided to take the top-ranked players from last year. Starting from number one, and going down to 32,” she says. “It was very sad to us that there were no women in that list today. We’re trying to figure out what the MPL looks like next year. I very much want there to be women in next year’s MPL. I want there to be a system that encourages that kind of play. But for the very first time out, as we’re trying to transition from the tabletop world to the esports world, we thought it was important to take the top-ranked players.”

Her sentiment reminded me of what Estephan wrote in her blog post, about how being the center of attention—the first woman on the moon—was for more harrowing than it was rewarding. I brought the quandary to Chase: How worried was she about putting a woman in that same position?

“It was a key part of our decision making. We actually talked to a female Magic player as we were forming the MPL, if we could fit her in. If we could fit others in. How we could make that work,” continues Chase. “And ultimately, her feedback was, if we are going through a system where we’re picking number one to 32, and we have to dip down to number 200 on that list, it would deem her a grave disservice. It would be setting her up to be a target of you’re only here because. And it would derail all the positive things you’re trying to do. So ultimately, we moved away from it. It was tough for us.”

Aiken, who has committed an entire organization to fighting the raw statistical balance in Magic representation, shared the sentiment. As she works tirelessly to bring equity to competitive Magic, the number one thing she’s concerned with is not being cruel.

“It would depend on who they chose. It would vary wildly. I think one [woman player] would be a mistake. If you were going to do it, you’d want at least three,” she says. “It’s like, if I’m the only woman at a thing, and I top-8, that says one thing. If I’m the only woman and I hit the middle, that says another thing. If I’m the only woman and I finish at the bottom, that says another. If you do one, you’re putting intense pressure on her to represent all women. She has no cover. That’s going to degrade her happiness and her performance.”

Given what Estephan went through, it is perhaps unsurprising that she concurred: “It would have been met poorly by the community as a whole and made it only harder for competitive female players to be taken seriously.”

Wizards of the Coast is currently trying to fix the imbalance in other ways. At the forthcoming PAX East in April, the company will host the Mythic Invitational—pitting the MPL roster against a variety of invited streamers and personalities, including seven women. (One of them is Jess Estephan.) The reaction from the community was mixed. Some players were irked that spots in a tournament with a million dollar prize pool were being offered up to Twitch stars and casual players, rather than the people grinding away in the tournament slag mines. There were also some reports that the streamers in question had deactivated their socials to shield themselves from vitriol. Integration in the MPL, if and when it does happen, is going to be an uphill battle.

“The thing is, the vast majority of the Magic community shares the same ideals that Wizards of the Coast does. The vast majority of the community is awesome, and welcoming, and supportive,” says Chase. “When you move things out to the internet, when you have a community as large as Magic, you’re never going to get 100 percent of people that all believe the same thing. The problem with harassment is that it only takes a couple hundred.”

“To me, that’s the question of the human condition.”

Source: Kotaku.com