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CardShark Content - Kim Harvey (3/12/2003)

The survey talks about cheating at Magic: The Gathering events, whether real-life or MTGO. Although no questions relate to MTGO in general, the topics of fraud, bribery, and stalling can happen even on the online game. This survey, to be posted at http://webpages.charter.net/harv77/cheating/, is anonymous and will be up through the end of March. The results will be compiled in early-April, with the final results being posted in late-April.

The survey is broken down into four sections: About you (a basic profile about yourself), The Cheating Issue, Methods of Cheating (which is only answered if you answered yes to any of the questions in the Cheating Issue unless otherwise noted), and the Final Section, which includes a few basic viewpoints about whether cheating is ethical or not.

Why did this survey get posted?

This is actually version 2.0 of the survey. The original version (which was much smaller) was handed out to a small number of players approximately two years ago for a senior project for a math class. Back in 2001, cheating took center stage when Casey McCarrel got busted during the knockout rounds of the US Nationals, and then three players got caught for bribery at the APAC Championships just six weeks later. That summer concluded with David Williams getting caught at Worlds with bent Accumulated Knowledge
Accumulated Knowledge
Accumulated KnowledgeSet: Nemesis
Randy Gallegos
Draw a card, then draw cards equal to the number of Accumulated Knowledge cards in all graveyards.
s in his deck.

Since then, the subject of cheating took a back seat. For one thing, that morning of September 11, 2001 took most players back into reality. Another thing, I was a senior at college and I was tied up with schoolwork and my student job, so my free time was very tight. When I got more time to view the Magic-related websites online, nobody was talking about cheating at all. Sideboard.com stopped posting reports of high profile (and even some lesser-known ones) getting busted at major events for various acts of cheating.

And then came Grand Prix Boston 2003. TeamAcademy.com coverage reported that two players got busted for unrelated acts of cheating. One was a lesser-known player the other was Nick Eisel. Eisel, as everyone knows, was the #1 ranked player in MTGO in the limited format for some time, and then dominated the limited Grand Prix season back in the Fall right after Onslaught
OnslaughtSet: Exodus
Paolo Parente
Whenever you successfully cast a creature spell, tap target creature.
hit the streets.

But I’m not talking about Nick Eisel, or anyone else that got busted recently. Contrary to your belief, those players are presumed innocent until proven guilty. You can’t jump to conclusions until all the facts have been presented. So after some time, I decided to revise the survey to 40 questions, and reword some of the questions.

What forms of cheating is not included on this survey? I chose to only post the methods of cheating that are either common in Magic or pertain only to Magic. Posting all the methods of cheating (which amount to well over 100+) on the survey would cause the survey to balloon to 60-70 questions, and with not everybody answering those questions, it is just a waste of time. For example, the issue of “shaved dice” was left off, because that is only used maybe once or twice in a entire match, and that is when you determine who plays first. That issue is more prevalent in MLB Showdown and the tabletop games like Craps and Dungeons and Dragons. Another method left off the survey is Plagiarism, because it simply doesn’t exist in Magic. If you were in school recently, you should know that Plagiarism is a very serious cheating offense and getting caught can get you expelled from that school (and banned from attending any other school in that state, in some states like Illinois) for the rest of your life. Being found guilty for Plagiarism is like being handed the educational death penalty. I’ve known too many people that can no longer attend school in Illinois because they got caught for plagiarism at Southern Illinois University, and some of the people are extremely smart. But in Magic, nobody writes papers for grades (while they might have written articles for various sites), and thus it doesn’t exist.

What common methods of cheating do exist in Magic? There are about fifteen of them, some that happen during events, and others that happen behind the scenes. Some of the methods are ones that the average player might not consider cheating, but it is extremely disruptive during events. Everyone in Magic has heard about bribery/collusion, deck stacking/manipulation, and stalling at some point of time. What nobody realizes that “rules lawyering”, deliberate misrepresentation, and outside coaching is also common methods of cheating that happen in Magic. In reality, the cheating methods of Magic and Poker are similar, except some of the cheating in Magic can take place behind the scenes as well. Tournament fraud is shockingly common in Magic, as evidenced in the DCI Suspended Players list. Last June, Sean Roney wrote several articles about tournament fraud at http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/expandnews.php?Article=3278 after he got a 5-year sentence for that infraction.

What does this survey aims to do? The survey will attempt to determine how rampant the cheating has been taking place in Magic: The Gathering. Since it is an anonymous survey, and individual replies will remain confidential, we want the players to tell the truth while taking the survey.

The survey is located at http://webpages.charter.net/harv77/cheating/, so take it at your convenience.

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