Saw a super jerkish comment about Magic: the Gathering today (that “legit” players buy singles, not boosters) and it was a reminder that while I love playing Magic with friends and family, I really kind of hate dealing with it at large.

I mentioned this, and someone referred to it as “Gatekeeping” and I was left chewing on that.  On one hands, it’s kind of not, because this guy’s opinion does not keep me from buying boosters and playing like I want.   But on the other hand, he really *does* keep me out of this greater playspace (if only by showing it to be a place I don’t want to be).


(The behavior *was* absolutely gatekeeping in that he had appointed himself an arbiter of what “real” players are, but that’s more of a garden variety asshole thing, so I’m not really accounting for it.)

Anyway, I’m just wondering at the language of gatekeeping – One of the things that muddles conversation about the term is the implicit idea that that  gatekeeper has power to enforce the gate closure.  A lot of people don’t consider themselves gatekeepers because they don’t have power, or because there are other ways around their objections.  And maybe that’s true, but they’re still doing what this guy does: broadcasting a signal that indicates that this is not the place for you.  It has no *force* behind it, but the message itself conveys that this is the kind of place that’s *ok* with that message.

I dunno. Maybe we need another term for it, just so assholes can’t weasel out.  Can anyone suggest anything punchy?

9 thoughts on “Gatekeeping?

  1. Craig Maloney

    The one that comes to mind is “opinionated zealotry”, wherein the holder of the opinion believes it is the “one true way” for which all folks shall enjoy the thing for which they have an opinion and will squelch any conversations to the contrary.

    “You can’t play D&D with Chessex dice, you must use this scientifically-proven method of complete randomness generation that was carved from the bones of a shaven yak” – opinion zealot.

  2. Roger Eberhart

    I usually think of it as “toxic community” in computer games. It’s the thing that keeps from playing games I otherwise enjoy, like Rocket League or Battlefield 1.

  3. Christopher Delvo

    I think it’s definitely gatekeeping. It might not be enforced, but that kind of language and other-ization has an (intentional or not) chilling effect on the actions of others. And if it’s spread en-masse, then it can absolutely feel like the authority-by-way-of-majority is keeping you from being a part of something. It’s part of why I hate the “Good Dungeon Masters will do _____” argument. Rather than just offering advice, that language creates a barrier between the advice-seeker and a mythical “good DM.”


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