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Article on Concerns about Competitive Play

Respectfully, this seems like you’re missing the point. Sure, there’s no right way to play. And of course there’s a lot to be gained by playing in a play-to-win environment. But that’s basically off-topic from what we’re saying. When someone says “I feel like there aren’t any events ‘for’ me, because I don’t really like competitive tournaments,” it’s profoundly unhelpful to reply, “I think there’s a lot to be gained by playing in competitive tournaments!”


Haven’t commented here; but I do believe there is some “entitlement/privilege” in the netrunner community. The one I saw the most often was complaints that competitive events and their prize pools were often pretty bad. And it often did revolve around better prize support (which to many but not all meant $'s). Which of course would mean taxing the people going to a tournament to pay for it which if you extrapolate ultimately means winners think they should be paid for winning. And I know that “that” is not what competitive people actually think (even if its what actually happens), that this is a boiling down of a lot of emotions and what not, but if you take the human intentions & feelings out you ultimately have this thing where any prize is coming from those who don’t win and for someone whose not competitive being told that they need to pay a higher entrance fee so that the guy at the top (which will definately not be them) can walk away with a larger wad of green may not be an attractive option.

And its a legitmate thing to say: go to the non $ tournaments. But I think its also legitimate to question whether the support for non $ tournaments would exist if those were the tournaments stores made the most $'s off of. Also, $'s to enter doesn’t necessarily mean “good at netrunner” it may be that a poor player who is really good at netrunner can’t go.

But, this isn’t what the article was on. And “classist” battles over netrunner prize support aren’t really something I want to engage in.

The point really was that about a year ago the competitive players were whining that there wasn’t enough support and that FFG in turn sucked. They expected and demanded more. Which brings us to this quote:

To be fair, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who said this, suggestions were made to those who were most vocal that instead of writing/talking about how much it sucked they should just get up and do something. And they did and now the ANRPC exists.

I’m not sure that ultimately asking casual players to figure out what they want and make it happen is a bad thing, so long as we’re ammenable as a community to figuring out how we can make those things happen and we’re willing to support and not deride those sorts from trying.


I agree that it’s good to think about accessibility - although it might not result in direct action because of the paucity of play spaces in London. I think this thread has brought a lot of interesting points to light and also this (and other articles) have forced me to examine my own behaviour re feeling entitled.

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That sounds reasonable. I’m struggling a little to think of ‘events’ rather than a club meet or similar that don’t reward playing to win. That’s the point of this article and a lot of the discussion.

I’m going to say one more time that people who don’t think tournament netrunner is for them should try it before they dismiss it. Many people really enjoy it. Many of those didn’t think they would. But I’m not going to repeat that again, so as not to stifle any of the many good alternative suggestions in the thread.


Echoing what has been stated here repeatedly, using the privilege and entitlement framework here is humorously awkward. This interminable article is nicely summed up with its closing advice: “If you care about the community’s overall health, but wish to cater your events/content/focus to the competitive community alone, try to do so only if it is in addition to any other content or events you might invest time in. Do not simply assume ‘I’ll do my thing, they’ll do theirs’.” Translated - your time should be spent building my vision of the netrunner community, which is less competitive.

I’m just thrilled that so many people are willing to spend so much of their time doing any of this at all, whether it be Stimhack, Jinteki.net, local tournaments, random play nights, or whatever. I find the criticism of how anyone spends their time doing any of this organizational work obnoxious.

Then again, I’m a grumpy old man with no free time.


I think I might’ve just had an idea for an event that isn’t structured like a competitive tournament. I’m interested to see what people think. Maybe it can be refined a bit.

The idea is, you’ve got Netrunner Day (or whatever you want to call it) from, say, 1 p.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. (I’m taking it as a given that players not interested in competitive tournaments will nonetheless want to play a lot; I think people for whom 4 or 5 hours of Netrunner is too much are probably outside the scope of gatherings/events altogether.) At 1 p.m., each participant gets 3 badges: an orange badge, a blue badge, and a green badge. Then, as you play people, you give out your badges. The orange badge goes to an opponent who does something cool or stylish, like play a neat or thematic deck you like, or make a clever play. The blue badge goes to the opponent who played the most exciting/hype match against you, like the highlight of the day. The green badge is yours to give out for whatever reason you want; maybe you already gave out your orange badge but then you play a guy who brought The Professor and you wish you had a second “cool deck” badge to give out, or maybe you just think one guy was a really nice and fun person to play with even though it was a bog-standard match against bog-standard NEH Fastro.

At the end of the day, prizes go out based on badges. I haven’t quite decided whether to give prizes for most blue/orange/green badges, or whether it’d be better to just have each badge count as one “ticket” and raffle off prizes, so people with more badges have a higher chance of pulling a prize but no guarantees. I think maybe I should do the latter, since my competitive instincts predispose me toward the former. :stuck_out_tongue:

Thoughts? It was the least “…and then we pair up by Swiss rankings and play” form of event I could think of.


I think this is a cool idea (I like raffling, especially, since who doesn’t like to gamble?) and wish the original article was more direct at answering the question ‘if you consider competitive play to be defined so broadly how can you make non competitive events that are feasible given current logistical structures that are set up for competitive events’

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I like this a lot. Maybe have three themed prized for the most of each badge color, and then do the raffle approach for the more traditional mat/tokens/alt arts.


I know Games Workshop tourneys usually do something similar. Granted, they are more of a ‘lifestyle hobby’ then ANR (but, Netruner consumes my life, spags! Isn’t that a ‘lifestyle hobby’??!?). However, I believe that gameplay is only 1/3 of their tournament. The painting/modelling is awarded, as well as sportsmanship. Everyone rates their opponents, and the top finishers get recognized.


FWIW, when I was last involved in 40k, the schism between “narrative / hobby” players and “WAAC / netlist” players was much, much worse than anything I’ve ever seen in Netrunner.

Largely, I think, because the time and money investment in playing 40k is so great and the local communities so small that you can really only choose one way to enjoy the hobby, and any kind of social shift towards one pole or the other in your local community leaves you in real danger of being unable to find the kind of 40k game that you want to play despite your thousand-dollar investment, so tempers run high.


Plus the 40K rules are a shitnado of duct tape and keywords so there’s lots of room for unfun cheesing and/or minmaxing.*

*Disclaimer: I have only played 40K using plastic army men and pirated rulebooks back in college so my experience is probably not as designed. The point stands that there are probably a lot more reasons other than the actual gameplay for buying 40K products as compared to Netrunner.


Ok, Article Author here, I’ve finally had time to read all of this properly, yay! Thanks so much for the great discussion, first let me try and clear the air on something:

Competitive players are for the most part no different to any other kind of player. All of the negative aspects I ascribed to them in the article are limited to predispositions and tendencies when applied to them as a group. I feel that, knowing nothing else, a competitive player is more likely to have some of the negative traits I described than a non-competitive player. This is not saying that it is common, let alone ubiquitous. This discussion is pretty damn clear evidence of that, if nothing else. I feel there are such examples of such traits in the Netrunner community, but I actually feel that on the whole there are less examples than in any other competitive community I’ve been a part of and I’d like it to stay that way…

To those that feel privilege and entitlement are a messy fit to these problems, I understand. Not only because I’m using the constructs to examine something on a lot smaller scale than, say, systematic racism or heteronormativity, but because mostly we dive into communities of play to get the fuck away from all of those big, serious concerns and have some fun. I am exceptionally privileged in both my general life (able, intelligent, fairly well off, white guy etc. ) and my particular Netrunner scene (I suspect Melbourne has both the highest number of events and regular organized play sessions and the highest amount of prize support of any city in the world). I can assure you I didn’t write the article to bitch about my own circumstances. I used my own experiences to illustrate things because I feel profoundly uncomfortable putting other people’s words out there without attributing them, not because I feel I’m owed anything. I’m not. Others, on the other hand, may well be.

I love competitive scenes. I love high-investment competition. I also study these scenes and try and understand what makes them work. I have found that those companies and communities which aggressively and actively support non-competitive players have the most successful competitive scenes- MTG and LoL would be my two examples of this. Riot have always gone out of their way to respond to the desires of players who have no interest in ongoing competition and restrict their notion of winning/losing to single matches. Wizards have, in the last four or five years, increasingly focused their design and support on being welcoming and accessible to people outside the competitive scene. In both cases, they have succeeded in growing the scale of their active community massively. That, more than anything else, has contributed to the increasing scope and success of their high level competitive scene. In contrast, Starcraft 2, probably the community I have previously been most invested in, where Blizzard focused heavily on fostering a competitive scene with relatively little consideration to other kinds of player, has declined steeply and is in a quite unhealthy state at the moment.

I can justify this at length and less anecdotatlly if needed, but I’ll just say it like that for now. As others have pointed out, the idea that competition supports everything else is misguided as far as my understanding of industry dynamics goes. I’ve talked with designers and marketers in both Wizards and Riot about this. I run a local chapter that supports boardgame designers and I have a lot of exposure to the behind the scenes of the games industry.

My point is then that it makes sense for competitive players to invest some of their time and energy into not just growing their own particular part of the community, but to look at how they might encourage the growth of others without considering them to be a gateway to competition (even though they will often be). I want to make this clear. It’s not about guilt. It’s not about not stomping people. It’s not about who gets what prizes. It’s about what will actually succeed in creating an environment where competitive Netrunner can remain in a healthy state and continue to receive the ongoing support it does now, if not more.

I want to throw something new in here now: As a designer, I tend to think of games as a tool for players to achieve a variety of outcomes which we collectively understand as fun. I’ve written about these extensively if you want to read more about it. For me, what makes a ‘good player’ is someone who can use the tools provided to get the best possible experience for themselves. To become a ‘better player’ means breaking down the barriers that prevent you from enjoying the game you want to enjoy as much as possible- anxiety, perhaps, or a fixation on a particular outcome.

I imagine I don’t need to stress that this is a very different perspective on what ‘becoming a better player’ means to many competitive players, including many of those who’ve been part of this discussion.

The difference in perspective is that I see games as something that serves each individual player. If the game does not succeed in meeting the player’s needs, that is a failing of the game, not the player. Competitive cultures, on the other hand, tend to see the game as somewhat more of a puzzle or a challenge which the player must mould themselves to succeed at. It’s something to be beaten or overcome, and failure to do so is your problem, not the game’s. To me that is a perfectly valid subset of what a game can be- you can set it to challenge you, if that is what you enjoy. But that is not ‘the game’, that is one particular use of the tool to satisfy one particular kind of need.

To illustrate why that’s important, I want to share some feedback I got on the article. A netrunner National Champion (I won’t say who, I’m sure they will if they want to. I’d prefer if nobody speculated) wrote to me saying he felt it resonated a lot with him. He took the best decks at the time to nationals, but much of the time he was playing he was rooting for his opponent with a more personalized deck… He felt like he wasn’t really playing the game he wanted to and he didn’t enjoy himself to the fullest- I mean, he still won a national championship, which is going to feel good, but it was at the cost of something.

Instead of the game being a way for him to find enjoyment in the way he wanted to, he felt he had to spend his time working for the game, rather than making it work for him. I find this is a dangerous outcome of the idea of shaping a community around people becoming ‘better players’ in the competitive sense. This perspective can then lead to other harmful ideas- Since a part of being a member of the community becomes labour to just be at the level where one feels one can contribute, a culture of respecting that labour inevitably develops to incentivise people to undertake it, which then quietly shifts towards the idea that people who don’t put in that labour, whether because they choose not to or because, in most cases, they simply cannot, are worse/less deserving players of the game.

They are not. This is something I feel extremely strongly about because it is a space where the bigger privileges impinge on our spaces of play. I know Netrunner players who work hard, get paid little, have less education, have had less money to invest in games or time to invest in competitive play in their lives. If a community’s respect for someone who invests a significant amount of labour into a game (the kind of labour it takes to become a peer in the competitive community, for example) ever becomes something anything other than a supplement to a full and healthy respect for any player, that community becomes inherently exclusionary and those who are privileged outside the game import their privileges to its community.

To me, this is particularly poignant in Netrunner because the game’s shell and the objectives of its designers have been explicitly to support and encourage diversity and to critique privilege and hegemonic power. I’ve heard countless comments talking about how Netrunner is thematically welcoming to a diverse audience, and that the community has on the whole embraced and become invested in the idea that Netrunner is a game that welcomes everyone. I don’t want to see that be compromised. I think there is a real risk that it will happen, albeit slowly and quietly. This is the problem with privilege, its effects occur gently and are not as a result of any single or even any particularly bad thing. The only way to counteract it is to be keenly aware that it exists. Hence why I wrote.

I’m going to leave it there for now. There are a lot of good ideas in this thread that can stand on their own. There’s a lot of good discussion that shows there’s an appetite for these ideas. I’m going to try and research and write a followup article soonish that explores actual solutions and ideas in more concrete terms, rather than just trying to raise awareness of the problem.


I’ve thrown out this question to our local card game (covers most LCGs and a couple of others) and got a surprising number of responses. Lots of people who wanted to be part of our netrunner community, but didn’t feel like they wanted to join in competitions for a variety of reasons.

The last event we organised was really popular, people from all over the country came along, and we made a conscious decision to keep it as friendly to new players as we could. At the end of the day, though, it was still a tournament.

I’ve decided I’m going to run a non tournament event, go through all the motions for a tournament (promotion, venue, all day on a weekend, etc) but remove cost of entry, prizes, rounds and ranks. Effectively a casual meet up evening, but stretched over a full day, with maybe some deck clinic or similar sessions thrown in, possibly an exhibition match.

We are also arranging the next intercity friendly here and there’s a Scottish cup to sort, but hopefully we can fit it in early in the new year. Hope to report back on it when we’re done.


For Conquest, I’ve managed a tournament that had great success.

It was a full day tourney. On the morning it was friendly casual play, where i brought one deck for each faction and ask good players to bring at least 2 decks.
And the afternoon was 4 or 5 swiss, where some people could borrow the decks i made available on the morning.

Everyone was happy with it. Some came only for the afternoon but it was minority, and every player who came on the morning stayed for the tournament.
Some people didn’t even tried the game before the day and bought 3 core sets after the tournament.

On Netrunner the card pool is more intimidating. But I bet an event like this one would have some sense.

Back on netrunner subject, I don’t understand why so many people here consider homebrew = jank deck.

MTG has never been more successful. However, I remember the rough times. If anything, their creation of a Pro Tour may have prevented the game from become a fad whose bubble burst, like Beanie Babies and the like.


FNM and their major support of a casual scene is just good business. Any way to attract more customers, expand one’s base, and get product in hands it normally wouldn’t is just sound business and marketing. It’s one of the reasons my daughter got lots of popcorn and pretzels trick or treating this year, something I never would’ve received as a kid.


What kind of inhuman monsters live in your neighborhood, and why must they prey upon the shattered dreams of innocent children? They deserve all the vandalism their houses recieve. That’s almost as bad as the one horrible old person in every neighborhood who always gives out raisins and apples.


One woman in my neighbourhood gives out pickled cucumbers at halloween :slight_smile:

in the land of the free, we call those… pickles.


we had the dreaded tooth-paste dispensing house down the road for a couple years haha

Dental hygenist, had to be. A real dentist would be giving out full size candy bars since he’d profit when your teeth fell out. The hygenist has to do all the dirty work and gets paid by the hour.

Where I lived we had a couple that would hand out religious tracts about how D&D would steal your soul, and going to school dances would give you chlamydia.