Month: June 2020

Confronting Privilege

I’m an old leftie.

I haven’t always been an old leftie because I haven’t always been old, but I have a deep belief in the moral imperative on society to help those who need help. This belief was formed on the anvil of Thatcherism, which was an ideology of class war.

My understanding of social narrative has therefore been through a class-based lens, by which I mean class in the British sense: something close to a caste system where there is little mobility between the strata of society, regardless of wealth.

Given that upbringing, my perception of the police has never been as rosy as many of my heritage: the police were used to break strikes and suppress dissent against Conservative policies. I’ve written before here about how living in Liverpool during the 80s felt a lot like living in Portland now: the people around me have similar views to my own, but the central power in the country has no inclination to listen to those views.

But you’ll notice I haven’t mentioned race. This is my central privilege: I don’t have to.

Because as left-wing as I might be, I am white. I am a white cis het male in a society built by and for white cis het males.

So. I have some learning to do. I’m not starting from a position of no knowledge, but I do not understand the lived experiences of people without the privileges that I have benefited from.

To help me in this learning I am working through Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad. The book speaks quite candidly about how the work of raising consciousness in this matter is going to be difficult. It does help me  that the author has a British background, though, however little it should matter objectively. Even as I am aware that British racism is as ingrained as American racism, the British experience is less driven by the wounds of slavery.

Anyway, I’m going to be over here learning and donating to organisations that actually understand the work that needs to be done.

Leave a Comment

Magic Without The Gathering

A large part of the point of tabletop gaming is to get together to play. That hasn’t been possible recently.

I have three primary venues where I play Magic: with my day job friends, with my kids and their friends, and at our local game shop (LGS). I have been working at home since March, physical interactions with any friends have been absent, and our LGS can’t operate any events on the premises. It’s all very sad.

Fortunately, my kids still want to play.

Also, I made that webcam bracket and so I’ve been able to play a little bit of Magic over the Internet.

this is where I play Magic on the Internet

this is where I play Magic on the Internet

The tripod is wedged in place with its legs slightly opened for stability. The playmat isn’t square on the table because the camera isn’t: it’s easier to adjust the playmat angle than the camera. The light on the right is my daylight lamp and is the only illumination for the play surface. I turn off the room lights when playing because otherwise the cards are just white rectangles of glare as the overhead bulb reflects into the camera!

the webcam mounted to the tripod with my custom bracket

the webcam mounted to the tripod with my custom bracket

This is the bracket in operation on the tripod. The camera’s clamp looks more rickety there than it actually is – that’s quite firmly wedged in place.

The tools we’re using are:

  • Discord – great for voice chat, and the desktop client supports video. Point your webcam at your playmat and go. This is what our LGS uses, based on a template from Wizards of the Coast.
  • Spelltable – similar video option to Discord, but with Magic-specific features on top like life total and commander. When we’ve used this for video we’ve still been using Discord for voice. It has a limit of four players in a game, which Discord does not, but does have some basic video manipulation features.
  • OBS – this is not strictly necessary, but it can be used to supply a virtual camera to your video platform and that allows you to apply transforms to the video. Specifically, my webcam has its video mirrored. OBS will allow me to flip that, amongst other things I don’t understand yet.

I would also highly recommend against playing any deck that permanently steals other players’ permanents or lets you search someone else’s library. Both of those operations are very difficult to navigate. Pacifism is bad enough.

I’m very much looking forward to getting back to in-person play, but at least this is a way to play the game.

Leave a Comment