Don’t Break Up With Your LGS

Credit for Image to BIGAR. Image depicts a group of friends playing cards at a game store.

Walking into your local game store might be similar to an old episode of Cheers. Have I ever seen an episode of Cheers? No. But I know that the theme song celebrates a place where you can “take a break from your worries” and count on the fact that everyone “knows your name” and “are always glad you came”. These are places that, as Magic players, we spend a lot of our free time.

The ideal LGS experience is one that cultivates a community of acceptance, shares mutual standards in relation to game play, provides engaging events and has an assortment of quality products on hand. This is a place where you feel excited to attend and know that you will be respected and feel safe.

However, what happens when this isn’t the case?

Perhaps things used to be sparkly and exciting and you were looking for ways to meaningful contribute to your LGS, but suddenly something changed. Maybe you feel tempted to immediately cut ties and find a new LGS.

Speaking from personal experience, I’m here to tell you to stop and consider your options. Below are my three relationship counseling guidelines to use with your LGS before considering sending that fateful breakup text.

1. Identify the Problem

Vector illustration of a man and woman hand holding each part of heart symbol

For me, identifying the specific problem was a difficult task. I had let so many different (related) issues build up overtime that I was having trouble in figuring out what the root issue was.

Personally, this was an individual making particularly slimey and absolute garbage comments towards women that made me feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in that environment. My attitude and game-play both suffered as a result. In addition, any further comments or behaviors from others were amplified due to my feelings about this one particular individual. He caused me to see the entire LGS in a different light.

Think back to when the problem that you are dealing with first occurred. How did it make you feel? How has it continued to influence your experience when you attend events? It might be worth writing these things down to better understand the core issue.

Note: It’s important to figure out if this is a problem that’s only annoying to you or if it’s something that is negatively impacting others as well. Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to love every single person you interact with at your LGS. That’s okay. Every community has these types of individuals and it’s doubtful you’ll find a magical LGS dreamland where this is not the case.

Assess the severity of the problem by discussing it with a friend or family member before moving forward.

2. Communicate the Issue to the LGS Owner or Manager.

Now that you know what the problem is, you can hopefully put it into words to the staff at your LGS. This might be daunting to do, but think about it this way: Would you accept this particular behavior in any other environment? If you encountered this problem at a restaurant, in your workplace, or with a family member, how would you deal with it?

This is honestly where I personally failed. I saw my issue as being too big or bothersome to worry anyone else about. In addition, I didn’t want to be dramatic.

Clipart Image of a Ghost

You know what’s more dramatic than bringing up your issue? Ghosting your LGS!

I can almost guarantee you that if there are any issues that you’re encountering, your LGS owner or manager will want to be made aware of them so that they can remedy the problem. They would much rather have your continued business than lose a paying customer and valued member of their community.

If it’s too intimidating to bring this up in person, send an e-mail or an IM.

In the meantime, sit back and wait. Don’t spread gossip about the issue to other game stores or on forums in which you identify your LGS by name or in which people will know exactly where you’re talking about. You don’t want to create further toxicity at your LGS before you’ve even given them the chance to fix the problem.

Think about that time your friend broke up with their significant other and you all bad mouthed that person only to find out that they got back together a week later. Talk about #awkward.

3. Assess the Results

Now that the problem has been identified and reported, think about how it was handled. Was it dealt with in a way that you felt respected and acknowledged?

If a compromise had to be made, what was it? How does it make you feel?

Best case scenario (such as in my own experience), the LGS owner was grateful that you brought a potentially harmful situation to light and fully remedied the problem. It took me ages to finally sum up the nerve to communicate what was happening to the owners of my LGS. Even despite my belated imparting of information, they were quick to act and regretful that they hadn’t known about the problem earlier.

If the problem wasn’t addressed adequately or you feel ignored, perhaps it is time to find a new LGS and a community where you (and your hard earned dollars) will feel more appreciated. At the very least, you’ll know that you did everything that you did to rekindle the relationship.

There are plenty of fish in the sea. And if not, there’s always Spelltable.

Note: Worst case scenario is that this is an actual instance of discrimination, violence, criminal activity, or hate-based actions by a large amount of your LGS and not one individual that can be simply removed. If this is the case, cut ties. Run. Ignore all prior advice. Just leave. Tell everyone you know.

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