Hello and welcome to this month’s edition of the Feedbag! Last time, we covered how to best approach providing feedback to your staff members. This month, we’ll be flipping things! (No, not Erayo, Soratami Ascendant!) I recently head judged an event where a couple of players who happened to be judges took the time to speak with me about rulings they observed me make. That feedback was really helpful, serendipitously leading to a great Feedbag question:
Should I provide feedback as a player? If so, how should I approach it?
If you’re playing in an event that has a judge, I would absolutely encourage you to provide feedback from the player perspective. “Player” is even one of the roles you can choose in Judge Center when entering a review. Providing feedback as a player provides judges with a totally different perspective than usual feedback offers.
Typically when we run events, we’re concerned with the aggregate player experience more so than with individual player experience. This is especially true as the number of players increases. It’s hard to focus on one person when we need to complete tasks like getting pairings up quickly, turning rounds over promptly, or applying the IPG consistently to every ruling. I don’t mean to say that our goal is for individual players to have poor experiences in the name of the greater good. Instead, I’m pointing out that it’s challenging to prioritize individuals when we’re responsible for everyone.
Offering feedback from the player perspective can help judges mesh those two goals together. As a judge playing in an event, you’re in the fairly unique position of being a player while also having a detailed understanding of tournament policy and knowledge of how things go from the other side.
Did you think it was less fun for the judge to have assigned deckbuilding seats at your prerelease than to just let people sit with their friends? Share that! You’re in a good position to discuss the benefits of keeping all the players together and accounted for vs. letting people hang out with friends and get deckbuilding help.
Providing feedback as a player can also be a great way to let a judge know what they’re doing well. They might be testing a change to their usual procedures or filling a new role, and a message of success can mean the world to a judge in that position by providing positive reinforcement for future events.
In the past I’ve strongly recommended discussing feedback with your subject before submitting a review, and that’s especially true here. Even though as a player you may recognize situations that you’ve also experienced as a judge, you can’t necessarily access the full information available to the judge of the event. It’s a good idea to get an explanation from the other judge about why they made that ruling or decision. This conversation can help you focus your feedback not just on the end results but also on the process used to get there.
Players don’t often provide judge feedback unless they’re upset. And nearly all feedback comes from judges who are working at events. As a result, Feedbacking as a player can be a great way to generate some reviews with fresh perspective on skill development.