​We Hung Out at a 24-Hour Board Gaming Shop to Learn About Politics

Here's what politicians could gain from playing Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer 40,000.

by Madi Fuller
Nov 29 2016, 5:13pm

Can the Great Mech War really be that far off? All photos by author.

Like many people, I've been trying to understand the events that have been taking over politics over the past month. I've searched for meaning by reading articles upon articles, and I've even dared to look into "information" posted on social media. But still feeling like something was missing, I decided to talk to a group of people whose voices are typically not heard in the political realm: Gamers. Board game and card gamers to be exact.

When I went to Phoenix Rising, the gaming centre in St. Catharines, Ontario, I had no idea what was happening, considering the only game I've ever spent much time with was The Sims. These gamers meet every single Saturday for 24 hours of gaming, from Magic: The Gathering to Digimon and X-Wing to Warhammer 40,000 and occasionally, political conversation. During my visit, I learned what a blue white control was in Magic and that many gamers do not want to be interviewed during a game of X-Wing. But more importantly, I gained a new perspective on Trumpism and discovered where gamers see themselves in Canadian politics.

Josh, 25, playing X-Wing

VICE: As a gamer, does politics really appeal to you?
Josh: I'm a firm believer that it's all the same shit. I've realized that an honest politician is a myth. I might be a gamer but I do have some strong opinions when it comes to politics.

I believe it! Do you think Trudeau is doing a good job then?
He definitely won't live up to his father. Pierre was one of the best, he was our Reagan who did do a lot of great things for Canada but some bad things as well. I think that goes without saying for politicians though.

More specifically, do you think Trudeau will do a good job handling Trump?
I think Trudeau and Trump are much more alike than people think. Obviously, Trudeau isn't a racist, xenophobic, and or homophobic but I think they both appealed to the masses. Trudeau is a good looking dude and finally mentioned the issue of weed. People, especially young people, liked that. Trump said the things that many uneducated Americans wanted to hear. The lies he was saying became the popular opinion. I think both Trudeau and Trump represented a change for their country. Trump's change isn't my preferred [change] but anyway.

Well, don't you think Clinton represented a change?
Oh no, I do not like Hillary. I was on Team Trump until he went all racist, homophobic, xenophobic white guy on us. Sanders was the best option, hands down.

In the game X-Wing what would Trump be?
Scum faction. For obvious reasons.

Matthew, 22, playing Magic

VICE: Right off the bat, Trump. Thoughts?
Matthew: I didn't actually watch the results because I was at work, but from what I heard, when he won people thought World War Three was right around the corner. And the talk of the town is that he's besties with Putin. In my opinion, he's a dick but a good salesman. You have to sell yourself when you're running for office and he sold himself. I was kind of hoping for Clinton but lucky for him, people seemed to like Clinton even less.

What do you think Trump could learn from Magic? Any suggestion for his deck?
Firstly, strategy. It seems like he threw that right out of the window. Possibly problem solving as well. To an extent. I think with a lot of gamers here when negotiation fails in your game you don't resort to confrontation and conflict. If Trump can follow that I think it won't be as terrible as we think. He would be blue white control or red white aggressive for decks. Just for clarification, white is control and red white is aggression.

Thanks for that, because I had no clue. Now, how do you think the Canadian government could represent the gamer community better?
A lot of people ask me if I want weed to be legalized. But honestly I'm indifferent about it. I don't smoke it so it wouldn't impact me at all. I would actually like to see more restrictions on games. I know five year olds that play Call of Duty. That has to be bad for their brain or something. At the end of the day, this stuff is happening inside someone's home so how much control does the government really exert.

Hans, 27, and Andrew, 35, playing Warhammer 40,000

VICE: Where were you guys on the night of the US presidential election results?
Hans: I was at home, drinking heavily.

Andrew: I work at a call centre that was calling out for political surveys in the States that night so that was very interesting. I thought Clinton was going to win from what I heard.

So you weren't expecting a Trump win then?
Hans: I was. I wanted to stay optimistic but knowing how the States work I also wanted to be a realist. There was so much misinformation going around as well. During the campaign and on results night. I think we can all agree that American media sucks.

Andrew: I wasn't expecting it but looking back on the campaign Americans seemed to be easily influenced. Just following the leader.

You guys were Team Hillary then?
Andrew: As a lot of people have been saying, she was the lesser of the two evils. No politician is perfect. Cliche, I know. Trump has been the first wildcard in US politics, that's for sure.

Hans: Oh yeah. I'm hoping for Michelle or Beyonce for 2020.

Are you nervous for the next 4 years? Do you think the Trump Administration will impact Canada?
Andrew: I'm most scared for my kids. I think we're close enough to the States that we will be impacted. Honestly, imagine a civil war. How would I explain that to my kids? That's my biggest concern.

Hans: I'm a little less scared of the war aspect. I think we have to worry more about the socio-cultural aspect because some of the Trump-bullshit-mentality might bleed through to Canada.

Kellie Leitch has been trying to do that. Do you think that will stick?
Hans: Again, I'm a realist, so it could. But usually when the worst of America comes up, Canadians poke at it for a bit then send it back down.

Andrew: Or up to Alaska.

What would you like to see in Canada?
Hans: I have some Indigenous family members so I would like to see Trudeau work more with reconciliation. We're only as strong as our weakest link and I think that every aspect within Indigenous communities needs to be strengthened.

Andrew: I think weed legalization would be great. I have a few friends that use it for medical reasons. I think there is a lot of benefits including socially and economically. Most importantly, I just want Canada to remain as strong as it is today or stronger when my kids are my age.

Christian, 23, playing Force of Will

VICE: How politically involved are you?
Christian: Well, I don't vote. For me, politicians don't really address my closest concerns. I have dealt with mental health illnesses for years and I don't think Trudeau has a good grasp on that. There wasn't enough done in the first place so I would really appreciate a more federal focus on it.

I think a lot of Canadians have the same view.
It could have been worse, it could have been Hillary. At the end of the day, Trump is a businessman. He wasn't a lawyer prior to his campaign and I think a lot of people liked that. As dumb as he is, he was honest, and Americans like that apparently. For the record, I'm not a Trump supporter.

What could Trump learn from Force of Will?
I hope he doesn't learn anything from it. It's way too ruthless. I mean, more ruthless than he is already.

Jamison, 27, playing Magic

VICE: Where were you when Trump won?
Jamison: I don't have cable and my phone doesn't have internet access. Plus I don't care. I can only speak for myself but I think politics is useless to care about unless me or Phoenix Rising are in immediate danger.

What can politicians learn from Phoenix Rising then?
A lot. Team building, since all politicians seem to be in it for themselves. Trump doesn't give a rat's ass about being the president, he's just running another business instead of focusing on all of the other individuals in it with him. During our games, we take the fall a lot as well. We aren't sour when we mess up but for many politicians they'll go and tweet about it. OK, only Trump does that but still. More politicians could show more gratitude too. After a game, if our opponents deck was actually good we'll tell them. In the States they usually just say fuck off and that's it.

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