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Game
Homeopathic
Magic

Magic the Gathering – Top Decking part 1

My informant is a Magic the Gathering player, and he tells me that when he really needs a good card, he’ll tap his teck, and talk to his deck and say stuff like “Come on, deck!”  And then my informant says that he will pick the card up really slowly, and put it at the back of his hand and not look at it right away.  He takes his time before he fully looks at the card.  He believes that if he doesn’t look at it right away there is a better chance of being the card he needs.

When this person opens up new packs of Magic cards, he also does something similar.  The rare card in the pack is always at the back, and most players will just go right to that, but he prefers to look at every card before it, hoping that if he takes longer to get to the rare then it will be a better rare.

When I play Magic, often times I will be in situations like these, where I desperately need a good card or else I lose.  And I will say stuff like “Heart of the Cards” as I pull the card from the deck into my hand.  Other times I will pick the card up from the deck and, without looking at it, place it on the table in front of me.  After waiting a few seconds, I will pick it up slowly and look at it.  I have seen a lot of players who will says “give me something good” or “Give me a good one” before drawing, and then in response to the card they will say stuff like “not a good one” or “close enough” or “I can work with this” as though they are speaking to the deck.  While this is definitely featured in the TV show Yugioh, the tradition can been seen elsewhere.  When playing poker or blackjack, players will often ask for good cards.  While they may be talking to the dealer, said dealer IS the deck in a sense.  The practice of asking the deck for a card can also be observed in magic routines (magician magic, not Magic the Gathering) where a participant picks a card and then the magician must either find the card or summon it to the top.  In the latter case, the magician often asks the card to come to him or her.

Digital
Folk speech
Game
Humor
Legends
Narrative

World of Warcraft Legends – Leeroy Jenkins

My informant tells me that the Leeroy Jenkins story is pretty short, and that the results of it are far more interesting than the original story.  Basically the story goes that this group of 15 guys were in a raid dungeon getting ready for a big fight, and they were talking about their plan, when one of the members just decides to screw the whole plan and charge right in.  He screams his name, “LEEROYYYYYYYY JENKINNNNSSSSS” really loudly in their chat, and just runs in.  The rest of his group is forced to follow and they all end up dying in the encounter.  Fortunately, because one of the group members was recording the event, we can see the whole thing happen on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkCNJRfSZBU

This video became an instant hit among players of World of Warcraft, with players showing the video to their friends.  I myself was shown the video by one of my friends who also played the game.  There were many videos that only WoW players would have found amusing, but no one else would really get.  However, the Leeroy Jenkins video and story started to spread to other video games and even outside of gamer culture.  If you go online, you can find fan art of Leeroy, comics, demotivational posters referring to Leeroy, custom Warcraft figurines.  The video became so huge that Blizzard, the developers of World of Warcraft, invited the actual player of the character Leeroy to come give a quick speech at BlizzCon in 2007, and do the trademark “Leeroyyyyyyy Jenkinnnnnssssss!” shout.  The also put a reference to Leeroy in the game itself.  Essentially, re-enacting the Leeroy Jenkins video will earn the player an achievement called “Leeroyyyyyyyy!” which also rewards the player with the title “Jenkins” that he or she may put on their character.

Within the gaming community as a whole, shouting “Leeroy Jenkins!” is synonymous with shouting “CHARGE!” and is usually shouted either at the beginning of a game, or when the player goes “balls to the wall” or “goes Rambo.”  Even players who have never played World of Warcraft in their life understand the meaning of the phrase.  In this sense, “Leeroy Jenkins” has become a folk saying.

As for the origins of the story, my informant tells me that the player simply thought the plan was ready and just charged in ahead.  According to other sources I have heard in the past, some say that Leeroy was away from his computer getting food while the plan was being discussed and so he didn’t hear it, and when he got back he assumed they were all ready to go and so he just charged in.  Others say that he thought the plan was stupid and knew they would all die anyway and so Leeroy just decided to charge in and have fun.  One other variant I have heard is that the guild who made the video did it as a joke video, knowing full well that their plan was stupid and so they were just trying to be funny.  This is the version I like to believe because everyone I know who has done the fight shown in the video says that their plan is stupid and would never work ever.  According to Leeroy himself, he and his guild buddies were just drinking at the time and being generally stupid, though he will neither confirm nor deny if the whole thing was staged.

Digital
Game
Legends
Narrative

World of Warcraft Legends – SuperAIDS

My informant used to play World of Warcraft for a period of about 5 years, and during his time with the game, he has come across several stories.  The two stories he told me about were the SuperAIDS story and the Leeroy Jenkins story.  This story is about SuperAIDS.

According to my informant, SuperAIDS was the player given nickname of a debuff [essentially a curse] that a particular boss character would inflict upon the players.  This debuff would deal damage to the inflicted player and would spread to any nearby allied units.  The debuff could be cleansed by a particular class and be stopped.  However, this debuff would sometimes get on a player’s pet, and one of the ways to deal with this was simply dismiss the pet rather than wait for someone to cleanse it off, because it’s really hard to see if it’s on someone’s pet and just as hard to target the pet.  So players with pets would simply dismiss them and be done with it.  Unfortunately, the debuff didn’t go away, so when they went back to major cities, and summoned their pet, the debuff would still be there.  Once players figured out this was happening, they got their pets infected and brought them into the major cities and started spreading the disease intentionally.  The disease would spread rapidly between players and would kill almost anyone who wasn’t highest level.  Normally this would just be considered a prank but the disease would also spread to NPC’s [non-player characters].  The major problem with this was that NPC’s regenerate their health when out of combat and this regeneration outpaced the rate of damage from the disease.  So the disease would kill almost any player who came into contact with it, but it would never get off the NPC’s.  This is perhaps how the name SuperAIDS came about, because it didn’t go away.  Anyway, this meant that, as the disease was spread, more and more areas of the game became essentially uninhabitable because your character would just get infected and die over and over.  This persisted for about a week until the devs were able to patch the game, eliminating the disease from the NPC’s and preventing the disease from leaving the raid encounter.  And even though the game of WoW is played in several different servers, because the players all communicate online, nearly every server experienced this in some way.

Game
Homeopathic
Magic

Magic the Gathering – Top Decking part 2

I asked my informant if he had any rituals or practices for when he is playing Magic the Gathering, and he really needs to draw a certain card or cards.  He says that he does not have any such practices, but that his friend does.  His friend comes from Taiwan, and he says that in Taiwan, all the Magic players will knock on their deck when they are desperate for a card, like when the right draw is the difference between staying in the game or losing.  Also if his girlfriend is around or any of his buddies are around, the player will get all these people to also knock on the deck.  My informant says that if you believe in it, it increases your luck of drawing what you need.  It’s similar to “believing in the heart of the cards” like in the show Yugioh.  And when you do draw that card, you make a big, dramatic effort of unveiling the card.

I find it very intriguing that this informant says that the “knock on the deck” tradition is practiced by his Taiwanese friends, but my other informant on Top Decking rituals, who is American, also does this “knock on the deck” thing even though he has probably never heard of the Taiwanese folk belief.

Customs

Don’t Step on the Symbol

My informant does some work in the sports media field, which basically means he gets to interview players after the game in the locker room.  On of the teams he has interviewed is the Chicago Blackhawks, and he says that in their locker room, there is a big Blackhawk head on the middle of the floor.  It’s the team emblem.  You are not allowed to step on it, and the players ask all the media people not to step on it either.  Anyone who steps on it “gets a major razz from the players.”  During the playoffs, there are a lot of media people in the locker room, and some of these people don’t know the tradition because they don’t regularly come for interviews.  During these busy weeks, the team goes so far as to rope off the Blackhawk emblem to make sure that no one steps on it.  It’s not necessarily bad luck, but it’s just something you aren’t supposed to do.

A similar tradition is observed in the USC Trojan Marching Band.  There is a big emblem of the band trojan head on the floor in the band office by the front door, and you are not supposed to step on it.  If someone (usually a freshman) steps on it, everyone in the band office will turn to that person and yell at them, and say stuff like “Don’t step on the trojan!” and yell obscenities at the offender.  Like with the Blackhawks, it isn’t really bad luck, it’s just something you aren’t supposed to do.

My high school back home had a similar tradition but with a twist.  In the front entrance to Lake Forest High School, there is a big Compass-Rose-like star in the main hallway, right by the front doors.  I’m not entirely sure, but I think this was a gift from a graduating senior class.  When new freshmen come to the school, all the older kids tell the freshmen that this is the Senior Star, and that no one except seniors are allowed to walk across it.  And they say that any non-senior who violates this rule will get beaten up.  The reality is that nobody gives a shit about walking across the senior star.  In fact, given how big the star is compared to the rest of the hallway and the given the amount of students who walk through it in between classes, it would be pretty hard for everyone to avoid it.  But the reason they tell this to freshmen is just to see how long it takes them to figure out that indeed nobody gives a shit who walks across it.  Nevertheless, the fact that this faux rule exists proves that “Don’t Step on the Symbol” is a somewhat universal concept.

Game

Magic the Gathering – Pile Shuffling 1

My informant plays Magic the Gathering.  One of the things you do in a game of Magic, before the start of the game, is you shuffle up your deck.  There are no strict rules to how a player may go about shuffling his or her deck, but there are a few preferred methods out there.  My informant prefers the method known as the 7-pile shuffle.  He learned this method by reading posts online from a Magic blogger by the name of Mike Flores.  According to Flores, who is regarded by my informant as an “activist of sorts with regards to the way people shuffle,” the 7-pile shuffle method is the best way to shuffle ones deck.  The 7-pile shuffle method involves taking your deck in one hand (or half your deck if it is too big to hold in your hand all at once) and dealing it out into seven piles in the way one would deal hands in poker.  After dealing out the entire deck into these piles, the player then recombines these piles.  After performing this shuffling ritual, my informant will then riffle shuffle about 5 or 6 times before deeming the deck adequately shuffled.  If he thinks the deck is particularly bad before starting out (usually right after a build session, where cards are often next to copies of each other and thus very non-random), he will perform the 7-pile shuffle twice before riffle shuffling.

I am also a Magic the Gathering player and I also employ the 7-pile shuffle method.  After each pile has been dealt, I will stack the 7 piles into two piles, then riffle shuffle those together before starting more riffle shuffle.  I learned the 7-pile shuffle method from a friend who simply said it was a good way to shuffle.  It’s also a good way to make sure you have the right number of cards in the deck, since you know which pile the last card should end up in if you did it right.  I also like the 7-pile shuffle method because when you start a game of Magic, each player draws 7 cards, so 7 piles for 7 cards lines up nicely.

Folk Beliefs
Homeopathic
Magic

That Scottish Play

According to my informant, there is a long-running superstition in theatre surrounding the name “MacBeth.”  If you are in a theatre or involved in a theatrical production, you are not supposed to say the name “MacBeth” or quote lines from the play.  Instead of saying “MacBeth” you are supposed to say “That Scottish Show” or something along those lines.  It is akin to stepping on a crack or spilling salt; it is bad luck all around.  She says that if you say “MacBeth” around a theatre or while you are working on a play, then the theatre will burn down or someone will die on stage.  It’s just something you are not supposed to do.  My informant learned this from her high school theatre teacher.  Someone in rehearsal had said “MacBeth” and the teacher went pale and screamed at this offending student to leave the room and wash out her tongue or something.

After researching on Wikipedia and other websites, I have discovered that the taboo against saying “MacBeth” has many supposed origins.  Some believe it is because the original globe theatre burned down after a production of MacBeth, others believe it is because a real sword was accidentally used instead of a prop sword, and someone was killed during a performance.  Others still think it comes from the fact that the witchcraft lines used in the play are real magic, thus cursing each and every performance.  Some believe that Shakespeare stole these lines from an actual witching coven, and these witches cursed the play.  Some say that Shakespeare himself cursed the play so that no one but he would be able to put on a performance of the play.  Others still say that King James, for whom Shakespeare had written the play to impress, did not like the play very much.  Ashamed, Shakespeare would not talk about MacBeth openly, instead calling it “That Scottish Play.”  Speaking the name of the play, the names of the characters, and in some places directly quoting lines from the play, are all considered bad luck.

According to the site, productions of MacBeth are often accompanied by accidents and death.  Other theatres that put on the production will sometimes go out of business soon after.  MacBeth is, however, a more expensive production than most, and has more stage combat and special effects (old timey theatrical effects) than most plays, leading to the business failures and accidents, respectively.

If someone does speak the name “MacBeth” or quotes lines from the play, they are to exit the theatre immediately.  The offender must then spin around three times and then knock on the door.  The offender may not re-enter the theatre until someone lets them in.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scottish_Play

Rituals, festivals, holidays

Good Show Candle

My informant told me of a ritual that she used to do at her high school theatre.  Before a performance, everyone involved in the production would stand around a candle, a “good show candle” as she called it.  They would light the candle and all stand around it with their hands crossed right over left, and they would hold the hands of the people next to them.  Each person would take a turn to tell stories or say good things about their fellow actors and techies.  This would go on for about 10 or 15 minutes before the show starts.  At the end of this, one person would squeeze the hand of the person on your left, and then that person would squeeze the hand of the person on their left, and so on.  And once it had gotten back to the person who started it, everyone would throw their hands into the air and as they did they would all say “Goooooooooooooooooood showwwwwwwwwwwww!” and then twirl around and face the outside of the circle, and then everyone would be ready to go.

 According to my informant, this ritual is performed at other theatres as well.
Childhood
Game

Wallball variant – Butts Up

My informant used to play a variant of Wallball at his Bay Area elementary school called “Butts Up.”  Like with regular Wallball, the game was played against the wall of a building or room, with one ball and many participants.  Players had to throw the ball against the wall without the ball first bouncing off the ground.  If the ball touches a player and then touches the floor, that player must run to the wall before the next time someone performs a successful wall bounce (player -> wall without touching floor).  If a player makes it to the wall in time, he or she is safe and may resume play.  If the ball makes it there first, that player receives a point.  Additionally, a player may attempt to perform a fast catch, whereby the player catchs the ball immediately after it has bounced off the wall, before it touches the floor again.  If the player successfully performs a fast catch, then the player who threw the ball gets a point.

My informant’s version of the game uses letters instead of points.  Each point spells out the word B-U-T-T-S and when a player has gotten all 5 letters, they must stand against the wall with their butt in the air while every other player gets a chance to peg them in the ass with balls.  Additionally, instead of a rubber playground ball, Butts Up was played exclusively with a tennis ball, and players were allowed to catch the ball in between throws, instead of just fast catches.  Also after a player has been ass-pegged for spelling BUTTS, instead of being out, the player simply returns to the game with a clean slate, albeit a sore ass.  Another one of my informants also said that some kids from his elementary school, back in New York, played this version of Wallball, and even called it by the same name of “Butts Up.”  According to him, this version of the game was reserved for the hardest of hardcore children.

Childhood
Game

Wallball

One of the games my informant used to play back in elementary school was a game called Wallball.  According to him, Wallball is played against the wall of a building or structure with a playground ball or tennis ball.  The object of the game was to hit the ball with your hand and have it hit the wall without first touching the ground.  If the ball hits the ground first instead, you must run to the wall before someone else is able to successfully hit the ball at the wall, or else you are “out.”  However, my informant says that usually a player could receive 3 or 5 outs before actually being forced out of the game.  Games were played with a large number of students.  There were a few additional rules in his version of Wallball.  Players were not allowed to bobble the ball, any player bobbling the ball was forced to drop it and run for the wall just as if they had failed to make a proper hit.  If a player was able to catch another player’s ball after it had hit the wall but before touching the ground, the player who hit the ball received an out.  A player was also allowed to peg another player with the ball, thus forcing both players to run for the wall.  This was only to be performed if teachers were not watching because teachers would usually stop the game if they saw this.  Players were also forbidden from having “Tea parties” which is where a player hits the ball back to his or herself 3 or more times in a row.  Also at any time, one player could challenge another player by throwing over his or her shoulder.  Both players then had to run to the wall before someone else hit it there.  Perhaps this challenge rule was instigated to replace pegging in the presence of teachers, but never left the game even when teachers weren’t present.  This version of Wallball is very similar to the version of Wallball that I played in elementary school, except without the challenge rule.

[geolocation]