Argothian Treehouse
Andy Van Zandt



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Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt

Judge Not

Lots of you out there probably have a Magic judge out there that you like. 
Even more of you, I'd wager, have one that you loathe.  It's a casual
affair, even outside the world of Magic,  in almost any circumstance where a
mediator is consulted or a person hands down a punishment,  someone doesn't
like the result, and faults the person who meted it out.  Sometimes, the
arbitrator even deserves the criticism.  Honestly,  it wasn't until I
started counselloring/GM'ing for Tibia (an online game- gamemasters in the
game are for rules enforcement) that I began to notice how widespread this
phenomenon is.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've watched judges make the wrong call before, or
issue an incorrect ruling.  There are times when I call for a judge, and I
frown at the one who walks over,  because I know my knowledge of the game is
better than theirs... there have been cases where I think that I could grab
someone off the street, teach them the game in 5 minutes, and get a more
solid ruling than I'll get from some judges.  Fortunately, those judges in
general will forward any question beyond "first in, last out" to someone
above them,  and if they don't, you can always request it be escalated

The less savory thing to me- more so than incompetent lower level judges- is
players' vehement reaction to being ruled against,  or to the results they
get.  I've consistently listened to players who'll grumble all day that
their opponent didn't get a game loss for a minor infraction,  or that the
judge wouldn't let them do something... such as effectively take back a move
based on the fact that they announced the spell ambiguously.  God forbid if
the same judge does two such things to the same person within the same
tournament, they could end up with a lifetime grudge against them.  It is a
surprisingly illogical stand that players in a game of logic will take an
abnormally large amount of the time.

Bringing it back to Tibia- less than 1% of players will both acknowledge
they broke the rules AND accept that the GM is just doing their job when
they get banned for the violation.  People will afk macro (set up a program
to do a minor action repeatedly while they're watching tv or sleeping,
illegal in Tibia),  get caught and banned for it,  and complain about the
ban, saying such blatant lies as "it was my little brother, I taught him how
to do just that in the game, he doesn't know how to respond to other players
or do anything else, please unban me".  Then, upon having it explained to
them that it is ALSO illegal for someone else to be playing on their
account,  they'll still cuss you out, tell you that "everyone does it, why
are just they getting punished?", and inform you that you're just abusing
your powers.  They tend to repeat their inane tirade when you ask them
exactly what you gain by such "abuse".

This is the exact same mindset you'll see mirrored in magic, in sports (the
guy knows he fouled someone intentionally, but will still argue the call),
and virtually any game situation-  and I imagine in a variety of legal
proceedings as well.  In Tibia,  I know I'm dealing with little kids half
the time, so its a little more understandable... kinda... some of the time. 
I think I just expect more from the young adults and older men alike who
play this game and vent despite how by-the-book the judge went.  In fact, as
much flak as a judge can take for making a bad call, they'll take twice as
much for making a good call against someone, from the person they make the
call against.  One of my favorite sayings, that applies to a lot of jobs
(not just judge oriented ones)-  You'll get yelled at for not doing your
job,  You'll get yelled at more for doing it.

My advice to judges and anyone else that phrase applies to-  just shrug it
off.  People are juvenile.  Do your job right, and while you should examine
criticism to see if it actually applied, don't take it as a personal attack,
because the criticism will come no matter what.  To the people out there
who're criticizing without ample justification- stop it.  Judge not, lest ye
be judged.  If you think the call was wrong, appeal it, the head judge or
tournament organizer will usually have a computer or comprehensive rules
available to consult, and there are set guidelines for the punishments at
particular REL's (rules enforcement levels),  and don't be a baby when it
doesn't fall your way.  Think about what you would -actually- be doing if
you were in the judge's position.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Send me an email.


You can reach Andy at:

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