Nossas amigas do exterior souberam dessa entrevista e ficaram curiosas em saber o que a Amana tinha a dizer. Então segue a entrevista em inglês, mas vocês podem conferir a entrevista na íntegra em português no site da LigaMagic (https://www.ligamagic.com.br/?view=artigos/view&aid=2231).
From Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, a player since 2009 and owner of a powerful Commander of Mayael, the Anima, Amana Zanella is the Regional Coordinator of Liga das Garotas Mágicas, a group that aims “a safe space for women to talk about Magic without receiving hostile and prejudiced comments”, as it says in LGM’s official website. With well defined points of view, she talked to us about the importance of projects like Liga das Garotas Mágicas, space on stores, Magic and representation.
LigaMagic: How was your start in Magic?
Amana: I started playing with someone much more experienced and I and it took me a while to get the mechanics of the game in the beginning, and the funny thing is that when I started to get the hang of my deck, an Aluren Combo, the guys that I played with changed the format they played to Commander. I could barely memorize what all the cards on my 60 card deck did, imagine in a format where I should use 100 cards without using copies. Even though I thought I'd never get the hang of it, I kept playing until I set up my Mayael, the Anima Commander, one of my babies, and today Commander is one of my favorite formats.
LigaMagic: What is it like to play in Belo Horizonte?
Amana: Belo Horizonte has stores with a great tradition in the scene and I never had problems finding people to play, since, by being a “kitchen table player”, until then, I had a fixed group of people who would gather to play often. My problem began when I started going to stores, that, to me, was challenging. Because one thing, when you are a woman, is to play with people you know, and another thing is when you sit in a table with people you've never seen in your life, you've never seen their decks. But nowadays I go to some stores in Belo Horizonte, but they are well selected.
LigaMagic: Talking about the issue of selecting a store, stores were once rare, so players took advantage of any space to play, but today it is possible to choose. When you talk about selecting a store, what is taken into account?
Amana: We take into account several factors, I am the one who organizes the Liga das Garotas Mágicas meetings around here, so I always take into account if the environment my girls are going to play is a healthy environment. We already know that Magic is a hobby with a multitude of toxic people and you don’t need more people like that. Having that in mind, we can’t just go anywhere and think that it will be ok to play, that's utopian. So when I think about going somewhere to play I always check who are the regular players on the store, if they are people who "accept" newbies at the table, how these people behave and even what would the shop's staff behavior in the face of an issue and this is an essential factor, by organizing events you begin to understand just how important this factor is. There was an LGM event, propagated by LGM people, where one of the girls was chased by a stranger to the store we were gathered. So when I say selected stores, there are several factors that we analize. The LGBTQ audience also has this security problem in stores, so they are also gathering and selecting stores that have a secure environment to play.
LigaMagic: Can we understand the Magic store as a toxic environment, by definition?
Amana: Magic stores are often a reflection of our society. And by being an expensive game, Magic ends up creating an elitist environment, and some formats even create more elites within the game. This can make a person who doesn’t have an adequate behavior even more toxic (with Magic players and even other card games players).
LigaMagic: March 8th is International Women's Day, as it’s a date that marks women's struggle for their rights, what can LGM celebrate and what does LGM battle for today?
Amana: We can celebrate many things! LGM was created 3 years ago by Akei Uehara, and since then, we have been increasing exponentially the number of female judges supported by LGM, the number of female pro players in the PPTQ has practically doubled, in relation to the years that LGM did not exist, and we are a community that heavily supports itself. How many times did one of the girls comment on one of our groups about how discouraged she was to play, whether it was for some comments or behavior in stores, and we supported her to continue her hobby. Likewise, if any girl is interested in becoming a judge, we introduce her to other girls who can help, if she wants to play more seriously, we help with the content for her to improve. And that support, from a community where equal people help each other, is very important. And we have struggled every day to increase the number of female judges and pro players, and also to increase the number of girls that play for fun so we can, increasingly, tell girls that a certain environment is a healthy environment and that they can come and play.
We work to expand the concept that all people who play are the same regardless of their ethnicity, age group, gender, or gender absence, and that all people can be very good at what they do. And we are fighting more and more so that prejudice, which is rooted in our society in so many ways, falls to the ground. In addition, we can promote Magic, the Gathering throughout Brazil and show that yes, there are girls who play, and they play very well.
LigaMagic: You quoted judges, girls who play at the professional level, who play for fun, in short, who are in the game. And there is even a project, Play It Forward, that encourages girls to make professional results. How important is representativeness?
Amana: I can not put it in numbers, because even if I try to quantify it, it won't get even close to how important that is. Representativeness is one thing that many people call "mimimi". I always wonder if the person takes a moment to think about it, and if whether he/she thinks if he/she is inserted in that context to say that it's not valid.
A woman who is discouraged because she was harassed in a store, when she sees that there are people who are fighting against it, she will have a stimulus to continue. Or when a girl who dreams of playing professionally sees that there are women who make good results, such as Lu Couto who recently made a TOP 8 in a PPTQ, that is really big and amazing for all of us. This has a reflection both on who already plays and on who is starting, she will think that "if that person can, I can do that too".
LigaMagic: Is representativeness one of the great achievements of LGM?
Amana: Yes! And not only that, having access to people who are a reference to the girls is also important. It's really cool to know about Melissa De Tora (former professional player and Wizards Play Design member) who is fantastic, and being able to meet Carol Moraes (Community Manager at Wizards), that we thought it was sensational when she started working with Wizards. Being in a group where people like you are there at hand, people that you can talk to and get answers, that can't be measured. This accessibility is essential for people to feel welcomed.
LigaMagic: In a research done at LGM group, you were asked "what chauvinism situations / comments have you experienced because of Magic?". And, contrary to common sense, the most voted were not situations of explicit and aggressive harassment, but situations where the girl is treated differently for being a woman, cases of "if a girl comes to my store, I'll treat her like a queen". How bad are the most aggressive situations and situations where the girl is placed on a pedestal?
Amana: Starting with the most obvious, when we are playing and a person belittles our abilities simply because we are women, that person is not taking into account that people can do things and have skills regardless of any condition. They already sat next to me at a commander's table and made a series of criticisms without even seeing me playing. The person despises you neither by your deck list nor by your abilities, she despises you for absolutely nothing. And this is very dangerous, because people do this, whether on the internet, with that Facebook comment like "was your boyfriend who taught you?", or live, that person has never seen you in life and is already trying to take all your credit for something that's cool.
I made some questions about this in a documentary made here in Belo Horizonte about girls who play, that person who has this type of behavior at a gaming table, what is the implication of that in society as a whole? How will it affect the people around that person? If it's someone who only does that to women, what does it do to people it considers as an equal? What will prevent that person from having other aggressive behaviors within society? So our concern is not just with the behavior at the gaming table, because at the table you can get up and walk away, but what could happen when you are off the table? This really sucks in a hobby community because you feel neglected and our society already does that to us so much, that I believe we don't need to go through such situations also in a place that was meant for us to have fun. But the fear is that off the table, that same person may also come to attack you, because nothing prevents it from doing so.
Speaking now about the less obvious issues, which is the case of exacerbated attention. This has a lot to do with the issue of harassment, we have several types of harassment and we know that people sometimes may not see it properly. Harassment happens in several instances in several different ways. A negotiation where the person begins to make compliments about your looks is an example. As much as it seems to be "just a compliment", it becames a matter that men are not able to put themselves in women's shoes. He doesn't understand that by putting aside the main issue to make comments on the girl's beauty, etc., he reinforces an idea in society that women are there to please his eyes, that she is open and willing to always accept this kind of comment and that if she doesn't receive this compliment well, ther's something wrong WITH HER. And it is not only the female audience that suffers from prejudice, the LGBTQ public also suffers greatly within establishments. There are several reports of prejudiced situations that these people go through within Magic environments.
LigaMagic: With all these problems mentioned, why keep going to stores?
Amana: Because the spaces are there to be taken by those who are rightfully. It's not because a person is prejudiced that it will take away my right to attend this space. I talked to the girls here and our project is to take the shops by assault, little by little. Let's gater 6 girls and play, gather 7 and play, gather 20 and play. I don't care if you have prejudice, because a woman, alone in the midst of several men, may be inhibited, she may have no one to turn to. But what if we are 7? 8? 20? I wanna see someone mess with us. And, what will be the support that the store will give in a situation like this? Because if they can't support you when you're casually playing the game you like, what will they do in competitive tournament situations?