Magical cheating sauce

I write about narrative a lot.
Narrative is, briefly, the thing we do where we come up with an explanation that “sounds good” and then don’t fact check it at all. Typically, this means the narrative is overly simplistic as well – “The NASDAQ went up today as investors regained confidence in tech stocks following a solid Black Friday showing.” Things like that.
In fact, the easy narrative option can even overshadow genuine, valid “simple” answers – “The NASDAQ went up today because Apple stock went up, and Apple is a disproportionately large share of the NASDAQ index.” (That’s true, by the way, it is a pretty big chunk of the NASDAQ.)
I mention this today because Luis had to make a hard decision this week following Saitou’s DQ in Florence – Saitou will no longer be writing for ChannelFireball.com, at least for the foreseeable future. You can read Luis’s explanation and a plethora of follow-up comments here.
Feeding the comment trolls…with truth!
Among the earliest comments was the risible suggestion that Saitou was just the first member of “team ChannelFireball” to be caught cheating, but now the DCI would get all of us!
This is, of course, an extended dance mix version of the “all successful players cheat” fallacy that I talked about here. This is a nice little narrative that lets a player off the hook for being bad at the game – or, at least, not as successful as they’d like to be.
After all, if everyone cheats, then losing becomes your marker of integrity.
Of course, this accusation just makes me feel as if I’m being cheated out of the magic cheating sauce that makes Luis, Brad, Josh, David, and many other writers at CFB so successful at the GP and PT level. What do they call that magical cheating sauce again?
Ah. Practice. Right.
But it can’t be practice, can it? Then we could all do things to improve our success at tournament Magic, and it wouldn’t simply be that other players are cheating their way to victory. After all, Brad and Luis must be cheaters – that’s why they do so well on MTGO, right?
Oh, wait. You can’t stack your deck and mark cards on MTGO?
Crap. Well, that’s a second try at that narrative down the drain.
Less sarcasm, more action
My paired Magic mantras these days are “Be good to each other, and call a judge.”
The former because this is a game with a community, and when we’re good to each other, we all win. This includes not short-changing yourself and hurting others by randomly accusing everyone who experiences an ounce of success with cheating (I bet these folks love a band right up until it signs with a major label, and then whine that they “sold out” too…).
The latter because it removes opportunities for conflict spawned by confusion (“How does this card work?”) and brings light into dark places where cheaters fester.
This has been a week of Theodore Roosevelt, oddly enough – from some twitter traffic about the man with Trick Jarrett through talking about him with family over dinner today. It is the essence of “speak softly and carry a big stick” to be warm, welcoming, and friendly to the community at large while reserving harsh and immediate responses for those few people who genuinely try to spoil the game by cheating.
I don’t have a handy politician to stand in for what our forum troll was trying, but it assuredly is the opposite – sort of “bark loudly and then refuse to back your claim.”
More Roosevelt, less of that. Please.

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