On Real Ethics

The other day I read Patrick Hoban’s article “on ethics” and I was greatly disturbed. Frankly it scared me, not for me personally, but for yugioh and its community as a whole. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to bash Hoban, call him a cheat, or even to say he is wrong, but to say that his thought is incomplete in the way that he only looks at one aspect of yugioh: how to win. That is after all his job, to write articles on how to win yugioh no matter what. So if your only goal is to win yugioh, then yes Hoban’s deceit isn’t cheating and you should listen to him, but while you’re at it why not cheat? Stack your deck, play extra copies, ect.? It’s only cheating if you get caught, and getting disqualified is just the same as losing right?

“There’s a big difference between tricking someone and outright cheating” you say, and no I’m not trying to say you will get disqualified for trying to take advantage of someone’s good nature.  What I am trying to explain is that there is a reason unfair advantages are illegal moves. The first and most obvious reason is because it isn’t how the game is designed to be played. Secondly it sours the experience and makes the game less fun.

Raigeki-LCJW-EN-ScR-1EFor example I was at a local playing game 3 against Nekroz. (Stick with me I will relate this to Hoban’s deceit trick) I had Dante and Vanity’s fiend on board and had the advantage, I was going to win. My opponent stack-shuffled Rageki to the top of his deck then didn’t offer to let me cut. I didn’t notice that he stacked (some people came up to me after the tournament and told me they saw it) and since everyone else was waiting on us to finish I decided to tap. Needless to say he got rid of my field, summoned everything but the kitchen sink, and I lost the game. I was pretty salty, but I let it go. The win was not going to make either of us top, so if winning a card game at a small local made him feel better, then good for him.

But what if I didn’t take it so lightly? I’ll admit I don’t take yugioh as seriously as most other duelist. If my only goal is to win I should do what winners do, which in this case was cheat. So I go to my next local and stack my deck so my opening hand always has tour guide in it. Someone I play sees it and does the same thing at a regional. Before you know it there is an epidemic of cheaters nationwide. Playing the game would not be any fun if every time you made a good play, your opponent would ‘magically’ draw the out. No one wants to play with cheaters so no one would play. Slowly the yugioh community would fall apart.

A similar issue is discussed by a philosopher named Socrates concerning laws. I won’t bore you with philosophy textbook excerpts, but a short summary is as follows. Socrates was in jail facing a death sentence for teaching in a way that was different from other people (not really something to kill someone over) when his friends come up to save him. They paid off a guard and arranged a place for him to live out of town. He was basically getting a “get out of jail free” card, but even though they both agreed that he was unjustly sentenced, Socrates wouldn’t go with them. He said that simply by living there he is in contract with the state to up hold the laws for the protection of civilized society. The reason we have laws (or yugioh rules) is to maintain the peaceful lives and expectations we all enjoy in society, therefore breaking the law is breaking this contract with and damaging to society. If everyone were to break these laws we would not enjoy the security and safety our country provides.

With that I think we have adequately explained why cheating is wrong morally, but as I said before Hoban’s deceit trick is not cheating. In his last article he said “When you enter a tournament, you are entering into an agreement to uphold the rules of the tournament and nothing more” which is partially true. When you go to a tournament and pay your fee you agree to follow the rules konami sets, but I would say you also enter into a second agreement, one that is more understood then spoken.  I call this agreement a ‘code of event conduct’. Think of it this way, say you go to a regional, and during all your games you shout all your moves as loud as you can and do everything overdramatically like you are from the yugioh TV show in hopes that it will throw your opponent off balance. Is this against the rules? No. Will this get you kicked out? Most likely, because you are not behaving in an appropriate manner.

“That’s just common courtesy” you say, and now we are arguing semantics. No matter how you want to title it we as a yugioh community have decided for the most part on how one should act at an event, and when you when you attend such an event you are expected by all the other members there to follow this ‘code of event conduct’. The same follows true for lying. While it isn’t against the explicit contract you agree to by the yugioh rule book, it is quite frowned upon in our ‘code of conduct’ because people want to be able to trust one and other. When someone lies it is harder to trust them in other aspects. For example if you were playing someone and settle to this ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ and first turn they Djinn lock you, you are not going to be happy but there isn’t much to do about it. Then after the match your opponent says “Hey I’m running to the vending machine, give me $2 I’ll get you a snack.” Are you going to give it to him? Of course not, he wasn’t trustworthy in game, how could you trust him with money. So now that this guy as both tricked you out of your win and tried to steal your money, he seems like a pretty shady character. You start keeping a closer eye on your bag and before you know it you stop going to events because you can’t trust or feel safe around the other players. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is clear. This tactic by Patrick Hoban does help you win but it is dangerous to the yugioh community. Nobody wants to play a game with liars and tricksters, so by deceiving his opponents, we are damaging the community we all love so much. I’m not saying Patrick’s only goal in life is to win yugioh, but even if it is he should still take care of the community. There’s no winning without events, and there’s no events without the community.

pot of dualityThat’s what scares me so much about Patrick Hoban’s article. As a well accomplished and famous player, much of the yugioh community (myself included) respects his advice and opinions. As a result the article he wrote is something that will spread this damaging practice across the entire community of yugioh players.

I’m not saying all mind games are bad. I have set a few pot of duality cards face down in hopes that my opponents would think they were mirror forces. I didn’t tell them that they were mirror forces, I just didn’t tell them they weren’t. The difference between this is lying and not sharing information you don’t have to, this way your opponent loses because they made a misjudgment instead of you taking advantage of their good nature by not holding your end of the bargain. In other words the difference is between assisting in your opponents screwing themselves up (which is the idea of mind games) and doing it for them.

Lastly I want to give some advice on how to counter this strategy. It is pretty simple, don’t give out any information you don’t have to, even if your opponent is. If they offer for a mutual side out, just say “I’m not going to tell you what I’m siding in  and out, you’ll just have to wait and see” I hope I have showed you that we have to protect the community we love so much, whether you are there to win, or just to have fun.

Play hard or go home!

Alex Fannin

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