For the past ten years, I worked as a graphic artist for several wholesale to the trade companies. Recently, I worked in the Advertising Department of Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, LA. During that time, I was a graphic artist and then the administrative assistant to the advertising director. In addition to my work in graphic art and advertising, I developed myself through two degrees. First, I earned a B.A. in Humanities with a major in Mass Communication from Dillard University in New Orleans, LA. Then, I earned an A.S. in Video Game Design from Full Sail in Orlando, FL. I moved in Massachusetts this year and entered the University of Massachusetts School of Law in Dartmouth, MA.
I work in a building that requires us to walk almost a mile to get to the office. It's a nice incentive to stay fit, but this week I have a hard time with that walk. I live with mild cerebral palsy; and while I like to downplay my condition, it often catches up with me. Over the last weekend, I went on a fitness binge and walked and ran for miles. The result, I limp and wince since that big push. I do this to myself, because on a weekly basis I grow tired of just relaxing and playing 3DS in bed. I need to stay active. I need to fight, or CP will catch up with me (worse than it has).
On Monday, I fake normalcy pretty well. I maintain a quick a gait as possible. I grin to hide the winces. Tuesday, my boss instant messages me. It's time to go to the cafeteria for lunch which in my condition is a bit of a haul. "I'm sorry," I message back. "I'm pretty slow today. I'm having trouble walking." My boss expresses surprise, did I hurt myself? "No, I don't really think I brought this up outside of my papers with HR, but I was born with mild cerebral palsy. I'm sorry. I just don't want to be treated differently. Don't want to be this bunch of problems."
Anna Anthropy's Dys4ia expresses a transsexual autobiography through the gameplay of Nintendo's Warioware. Reflecting on my life, I choose the stealth-action gameplay of Metal Gear Solid for my own autobiography.
While I research the topic of diversity (not just in games, but in all media), I find that we certainly break color lines. The real challenge is expressing the diversity beyond the color lines. We find comfort in the portrayal of black men as the binary Sidney Poitier or Shaft, according to Dwayne McDuffie. What about that "other"-ness, though? The conservative, the disabled, the gay, how often do we find them beyond the color line?
That's when it occurs to me how much I play Metal Gear Solid with my own life. I don't want to be a burden to my friends or family. I don't want to be treated differently, despite how different I am. I wake up each morning conscious of drone units constantly policing: who is straight, who us black or white, who is able bodied. I'm Native American and that's the one thing I concede to those drones. Otherwise, I use stealth to live. If I alert those units, how does it affect my family? My physical condition concerns my parents and friends. My sexuality concerns my whole family as an only son. I don't feel at liberty to live outside the cardboard box. So I use stealth.
This isn't new or unique to me. During early adulthood, I would commit the movie Paris is Burning to memory. One lesson I took from the movie was the meaning of "realness." For some trans community members interviewed, the challenge of life was to leave a club dressed in a way they identified and not return home bloodied.
It occurs to me how much other-ness is part of my experience. Classmates question my gait during high school and below. They wonder, why does the toe on my left shoe curl up. Why do I walk on the side of my shoes. Am I Hispanic. Am I gay, they question constantly.
So, I stuff tissue in my left shoe to fill the void of one foot too small. I monitor every step I make. I dodge their questions of where my girlfriend is with jokes. I tell them I'm indian, some don't even believe my people still exist. "You're either white or black." Doesn't matter, alert mode dies down and the drones return to their posts.
It's not always necessary for me to be in stealth mode, but it's safe. I distance myself from people who really do care about me, because if they really knew my other-ness it would make them worry. So even in front of the people who love me, I hide in my cardboard box.
Inside my box, I am strong and I can run. I laugh at jokes that no one else would get. I write treatises on the problems with the world. I'm safe and everything makes sense. I'm not always content to stay inside, however, and I often dare to give everyone a taste of my other-ness. Yet, I pull back as soon as I hear the alarm and see the drones approach.
In my game, you can attempt to survive this way. Maybe you can get that guy, and live happily ever after. Jump behind corners. Sneak and never let the drones catch you. Or maybe in my game, you can help me find a better way. That's the true goal of diversity in games for me. When we can both enjoy the experience as designer and player, collaborate and learn.
Damion Perrine seeks various remedies against Sega and Gearbox who served up "actual gameplay" demonstrations of Aliens: Colonial Marines. In his claim against defendants, Perrine illustrates: false advertising, breach of warranties, fraud in the inducement, negligent misrepresentation and consumer law violations. According to Polygon, Perrine relies on several California civil and business codes. In addition to the discrepancy between the demo and the finished product, Perrine ropes video game critics into the matter by evoking the maligned practice of review code embargoes. This case may not get us to the bottom of whether Gearbox embezzled funds to support Borderlands and Duke Nukem. Nor will it help to solve the mystery of the missing Wii U version. Hopefully, it won't resurrect that 2012 buzzword "gamer entitlement." It should affect the video game consumer and serve as education. Caveat emptor, buyer beware, and in all cases up or down the demo certainly does not represent the final product.
Perinne asserts that a "video game's graphic engine is the 'guts' that drive the entire experience, much like a car's engine and electronic components affect its performance." In this statement, the plaintiff actually gives Sega and Gearbox a little wiggle room. Software or a program, as it relates to uniform Commercial Code is the general term for a set of instructions that direct the computer to perform various steps to carry out a particular task. In Perinne's statement he refers to the graphic engine of the game. Sega and Gearbox could contend that they in fact did deliver the same graphic engine as demonstrated by the demo. Without any particulars of development, we can refer to another game and its demo to see where a discrepancy may arise. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demonstrated several bugs and glitches that did not appear in the final product. The reason for these glitches as given by a lead dev, was that the demo was branched off from the development of the main game by a third party with older code due to time constraints. It is possible that a third party outside of Sega and Gearbox developed either the demo or the actual final product. According to reports, the actual primary development of the single player campaign was outsourced to TimeGate Studios.
Aside from supplying the actual graphic engine, Sega and Gearbox face a breach of warranty. The implied warranty of fitness is tested by three factors: the seller's knowledge of the buyer's particular purpose for goods, the seller's knowledge of the buyer's reliance on the seller's skill and knowledge in furnishing the appropriate goods, and the buyer must in fact rely on the seller's skill and knowledge. Perinne must demonstrate that Sega and Gearbox knew that he and others involved in the class action relied upon the skill and knowledge of the developer to provide that particular set of software for a particular use. Sega and Gearbox can respond by saying that the quality of the software did not materially affect ordinary and particular use. The court would have to decide whether the discrepancy blocks consumers from stepping "into the role os a character from the 'Aliens' movie." Given the advancement of technology, a court has to consider the reasonable standard that a developer must use to immerse a player. This is going to be a tricky point to argue and the court might step away from it. A player may expect a certain level of realism in an otherwise subjective experience. That level, however, is unique and can change over time. Instead, the court may consider if the software is in working order on delivery.
The code review embargo point may not deliver the black eye or bloody nose to the practice between public relations departments or firms and the gaming media. In this case, Perinne needs to demonstrate that Sega and Gearbox actively concealed the actual quality of the final product through the embargo. Coming out of this case, we may have some insight into a particular case of concealment. At this time, consumers have unconfirmed allegations and suspicion of the process. The gaming press appears to have a love / hate relationship. Those in favor are cautious to warn consumers against early and exclusive reviews. While no particulars are confirmed, it's alleged that websites will deal with game companies for exclusives so that either party can benefit from promotion or placement. Meanwhile, those opposed to the practice question its impact on effective consumer journalism and art criticism. Game critics, it's suggested, live in bordertown between the two.
Independent of this class action, Gearbox Software forum user "HisRoyalSweetness" successfully was credited a refund from Steam for the purchase of Aliens: Colonical Marines. The process involved correspondence to the Better Business Bureau and the Washington State Attorney General.
Sega has already responded to claims of false advertising in the UK regarding Aliens Colonial Marines. They applied a disclaimer to trailers for the game after a claim submitted to the Advertising Standards Agency.
The Perrine case presents several challenges to the game industry going forward. The case affects how games and their demos are developed. It affects how games are marketed through exhibition and online media. It also personally affects consumers of gaming media perhaps leaving them more saavy and cautious of contributing to Day One sales. The challenge for the case: will a court be able to determine a reasonable amount of discrepancy between a game's demo and the final product? Perinne must be successful in demonstrating that the discrepancy affected the ordinary and particular use of the software.
There's much ado about breasts and exaggerated anatomy in the recent articles from games journos. Much of the ado is about how we are now facing such a pandemic problem of female objectification and we need to have an adult conversation on the matter. Now is the time. Yes, now. Not back when a pixellated Custer sought to exact his revenge on an equally as blocky Indian woman tied to a cactus. No. It certainly wasn't back when Samus would appear in various stages of undress based on how well the gamer performed. No. It wasn't even when Dragon's Crown was announced in 2011 as a spiritual successor to Princess Crown from 1997. No. It wasn't even time from this when Brenda Romero cried foul at "gaming enthusiast" models traipsing about a YetiZen party. No. Now is the time to put on big boy pants and sit in brown leather chairs against a backdrop of dusty volumes and smoke pipes of tobacco and talk about the price of tea and China and... oh yes, boobs.
It's not even about boobs. The men in these critiques of female objectification revel in the sexualization. They plaster huge header images of the Sorceress and her jugs. They pass along animations of jiggling and gyration. They condemn these images as disgusting examples of the prurient. "When, Gods? When?" goes out the cry. "When will our sacred video game industry grow up and out of this rubbish? When can I play an adventure game in front of my daughter and not feel like a skeezoid." Surely, these images are old and tired. We've had enough in the 1970's. Can't we move on to something more positive and wholesome. These guys, they're like the townie sewing circle of the Elvira movie. They stamp out anything dirty and politically incorrect, but they do so for the approval of each other and the audience. I assure you, when the keyboard and monitor shutdown, these guys return to a world along the lines of Peyton Place. It's commendable to be an upstanding pillar of morals, but don't go throwing water on somebody else's fun. It's probably best to let people fight for themselves. Women and gays are speaking out on the issues, but it's these men that rush to the banner and wave it proudly like Old Glory.
To me, the maturation of the industry is one that will naturally occur. We can't expect every game to be the work of American Zoetrope. Not everything will look as good or have the depth of story that these guys want. We're going to have a bit of John Waters every now and then, and that's OK. In fact, the true adulthood of the games industry is where the American Zoetrope games can stand side-by-side with the John Waters games. It's an adulthood where everyone has: access, representation, and a voice.
Personally, I'm disappointed by some of the gay men who have spoken up on the subject. This is exaggeration in artwork. It's something we revel in, the absurd and over the top. I feel like in our quest for equality we've adapted to a puritan set of ideals. We shouldn't be pointing fingers and shaming George Kamitani for his art. This is so, because we would then turn around and flip on Drag Race to scream, "Werk!" and the top of our lungs. Or maybe not, but then why would that be? It's all in good fun and comedic and satirical. Call no drag queen a misogynist, cause she's already walked more than a mile in high heels!
The real bluster, however, is centered around this incestuous nature of the gaming press. Why even in this blog post, I am explicitly fornicating verbally with my cousins once or twice removed. We have such a predilection to report on each other during slow news days. And yes, there is a place for healthy trash talking among competition. What I don't like is the invention of an issue when everyone else is discussing the new hotness. As I said, Dragon's Crown was announced in 2011 and the Sorceress has not (thankfully) had a boob job since then. In today's discussion, one blogger decides to educate his audience on the "real" issues at hand. in the midst of that educational presentation, he launches an allegation that the artist must be a 14-year old boy. This allegation instigates some playful ribbing. so, the artist and president of the gaming company decides to respond in kind. Maybe you prefer muscle men over big breasts, implies a Facebook post. Ah! But here comes blog number #2 in Phoenix Wright style, "OBJECTION!" You say my colleague may like muscle men, blogger #2 smirks and pats a print out with the back of his hand. Don't you mean that you think my colleague is gay and by gay I mean "BAD," blogger #2 strikes j'accuse pose. His arm outstretched and with a piercing gaze, blogger #2 holds his daughter in the other arms. She is in full regalia a la Cosette from Les Mis. Cue dramatic chipmunk.
Oh why can't we just grow up? Can't we develop more than two reactions to cleavage in games. The first reaction is to cover our mouths and snicker. The other reaction is to run like a horse from a burning barn. It's not the boobs, boys. It's how you perceive them. Women don't just dress this way to arouse men. For arousal of a partner, women can have relationships with more than just men. A woman can also feel confident and own her sexuality. the image of a sorceress conveys to me that sexuality is a weapon in this woman's arsenal. Or wait... could it be something else? Could it be that sexualization and objectification along these lines flies in the face of your pre-conceived beauty myth? Could it be that the outrage against big breasts is some veiled attack against full-bodied women? I think I should save that topic for some other time.
A gaymer is defined by Perkins Coie and the Electronic Frontier Foundation as a gamer who also identifies as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The characteristics include: social and political marginalization, pride, dignity and a common purpose & activity. By individual accounts, gaymers became aware of this common purpose by playing online games and feeling discomfort by hurtful language expressed by other players. Despite the language, the gamer community contends that it is inclusive of all. While this is technically true, cultural norms within the gamer community are a challenge for any who self-identify as part of the LGBT community. The gaymer group identity is a promise to these individuals of a safe haven from: heterosexism, sexism, ageism, racism and general bigotry. Effective community leadership ensures that this is so. The roots of these ideologies, however, differ from the real world understanding.
There are several prominent social and message board sites relevant to the gaming public. Somethingawful.com #8,179
A few sites provide online communities relevant to the gaymer community:
(Rank# out of 30 million by webstatsdomain.com)
Since 2000, self-identifying members of the gaymer community relied on online communities to build a social network of online contacts. These contacts would normally carry over into multiplayer sessions. Gaymer community sites often host chat and discussion for their own guilds and clans, or groups of players that assemble for a common goal in a massively multiplayer online game. These sites host users that often take advantage of the anonymous quality of the Internet. While this a boon for those avoiding explicit persecution, anonymity does not preclude offensive language or content.
In “Dude, you’re a F-g”, C.J. Pascoe describes the kind of language used in online gaming forums as “gender policing.” Young boys will use the term “f-g” as a disciplinary mechanism to regulate others in terms of sexuality and gender, according to Pascoe. This activity is divided along lines of race as cultural norms and ideals of masculinity & heterosexuality will differ. While the study focused primarily on young males in high school, a similar situation occurs during activities related to online gaming and online gaming discussion. 4Chan and Reddit members engage in these activities as well. The gender policing on these sites is explicitly distinct from systemized homophobia. Members that engage in gender policing are not exclusively heterosexual or male. In fact, individual accounts suggest that members that use gender policing are liberal in acceptance of homosexuality. Issues of gender in gaming discussion include relationships with females and the “trap” meme. The trap, as defined by knowyourmeme.com, is a young male who is indistinguishable from a female who may entice otherwise heterosexual males into relations. Claims of misogyny, while not exclusive to the online gaming community, have caught the attention of organizations like Southern Poverty Law Center.
In order to define social and political marginalization, I first looked at the practice of self-identification in the United States. In 1997, the Executive Office of the President Office of Management and Budget announced revised government-wide standards for reporting data on race and ethnicity. These revisions were a response to the responsibilities the government assumed to enforce civil rights laws. Furthermore, these revised standards allowed for individuals to self-identify as multiple races and ethnicities. Before these standards, less than 2% of the population self-identified with multiple backgrounds. Checks for this self-identification relied upon input from both the individual or “respondent” and the data collector or “observer.” The Office of Management and Budget stated that these categories were social-political and independent of genetic, biological or anthropological qualities of the respondent. Multiple race reporting was opposed by several state governments and agencies and certain tribal governments. Despite opposition by tribal governments, Census data from 2000 and 2010 noted a 26.7% increase in the Native American population.
In 2010, the National Center for Transgender Equality released a bulletin describing the Census and its impact on the transgender population. In the bulletin, the NCTE suggests individuals report the gender (male or female) that they most identify with further noting that “transgender” is not yet an option in self-identifying gender in census data. On the matter of sexuality, the bulletin notes that the Census reports all same-sex couples as “unmarried partners.” With the passage of the Matthew Shepard act by Congress, the definition of hate crimes extended to those committed on the basis of perceived sexual orientation. While not evidence of the support of self-identification of sexuality or gender as a social-political construct, the act is an acknowledgment of the violence and marginalization imposed externally.
The New York Times reports an emerging trend in younger individuals who traditionally identify as being part of the LGBT community. The articles introduces a new rubric, LGBTQIA. Q defined as “queer” or questioning. I defined as “intersex,” an interviewee later expresses a similar concept as “bi-gender” or being interchangeably male and female. A defined as “ally” (friend of the political cause) or “asexual” expressing an absence of sexual attraction. The article notes that the trend among younger individuals is to view identity as “distinct from sexual orientation.” The goal of this expansion of the identity, as the article notes, is the upending of gender roles of the binary male and female.
Personally, I am a member for a federally recognized Native American. This group identity provides for pride, dignity and self-determination. Federally recognized tribes have a nation-to-nation relationship with the federal government. This means that the incorporated bodies of tribes have distinct governments, specific history and hold political influence over the membership. Each tribal government, representative of the will of the membership, determines the criteria for membership in the tribe. This is usually done through a calculation of descent known as “blood quantum.” Other types of individuals include members of tribes not recognized by the federal government yet recognized by the state government. Other individuals may not be enrolled in a tribe; yet, they are accepted as part of the community by having recognized familial ties. In each of these cases, observer, either a member of the larger community or outside observer, and respondent input serve as checks for self-identification. Questions like, “where did you grow up?”; “Who are your grandparents?”; “Do you know members of other tribes in your area?”; or “Do you speak your language?” are commonly used as mechanisms to verify the identity of the individual. This method is similar in concept to gender policing employed by young males; yet, different in execution. The purpose of the policing by members of the group identity, from the view of this member, is the defense of the identity from dilution. Dilution means the loss of value or meaning. Dilution of an identity leads to confusion as to who qualifies as a member of the group identity. This defense of the group identity does not preclude someone from exercising the expressly personal right of self-identification. It does affect, however, the group’s acceptance of the self-identifying individual. Furthermore, the policing of an identity by a group leads to creation of a class system of identity. For example, the gamer community is a group of individual with a common activity. Details of that activity, “What systems do you own?”; “What games do you play?”; or “What is your gamertag?” help the group determine the class of member. In this context, gamers can be “hardcore” or “casual” which signify an individual’s devotion to the activity. Furthermore, protection by the group from dilution of the identity functions as a defense against harmful stereotypes. In the context of Native Americans, the group identity is reduced to caricatures in the promotion of professional sports mascots. The NAACP resolved to renounce these mascots as they affect the dignity and pride of the group.
Marginalization as defined by Black’s Law is, “the process of according less importance to something or someone moved away from the inner workings of the group. A social phenomenon of excluding a minority, subgroup, or undesirables by ignoring their needs, desires, and expectations.” In terms of a systemized practice of marginalization, I turn to the statement by Zora Neale Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God. In the book Hurston states that the black woman is the “mule of the world.” This idea is backed up with the qualities of: worked to death, ruined with mistreatment, and capable of incredible strength empowering her to bear impossible loads. Stacey Patton in a review for the Wellesley Centers for Women notes an assertion by black feminist think, Michele Wallace. That assertion was that the mule image and a subsequent image of the black superwoman resulted in a “conspiracy of silence about black women’s disenfranchisement and exploitation, within both black communities and the larger white-supremacist society.” This stereotype was a mechanism in the social and political marginalization of the black woman. With the definition of marginalization in mind, I assume the idea of privilege is a pass closer to or into the inner workings of society.
So then, who are the “gaymers?” By expressly personal right of self-identification, anyone can assume the identity of a gaymer. By assuming that identity, the individual assumes: political and social marginalization, a common purpose and activity, pride and dignity. By definition, the person also takes on the identity of someone associated with the LGBT community. As shown in the New York Times, the emerging trend works to expand the identity beyond the binary confines of male and female and into something distinct from sexual orientation. Still, we can assume all gay gamers, lesbian gamers, bisexual gamers and transgender gamers are gamers. Can we assume that all gay gamers, lesbian gamers, bisexual gamers and transgender gamers are gaymers? And if they are not gaymers than do they not share in the social and political marginalization, common purpose and activity, pride or dignity? If one does qualify to be part of the group, by what process does that person opt out?
Identity is the quality of “sameness.” The axiom is that “birds of a feather flock together.” Whether as an individual who shares in a common activity or as someone who identifies along the same lines of orientation or gender, there exists a commonality between the members of the gaymer community. In 2002, Rick Gage started Gamers Experimentations as a community for gaymers. It was a subdomain of his own web hub experimentations.org which provided members of the LGBT community an online space to discuss various facets of pop culture. In 2003, Chris Vizzini started Gaymer.org. Vizzini took his case to internet newsgroups regarding the creation of his service. In the news logs of Gaymer.org Vizzini writes:
“A lot of people replied to my newsgroup posts saying what's the point, what difference does it make if you are gay or not, you are just further separating yourself from mainstream society...gamers are gamers. This is not so. I've been to many sites where a reply to someone's post will be "You suck, f-ggot" or the like. I'm not a militant gay person either, I don't get all up in arms about the word f-g, but it does get a bit tiresome. It's not even so much about the use of the word (I use it myself)...it's the mindset of the people who use it in that way.
“Hopefully this site will evolve into something where people get together and play locally. This is Atlanta and there some homophobic people here. Personally, I'd rather not risk getting some nutcase who wants to crack my skull cracked open. Knowing there are risks like that, wouldn't you want something like this if you were gay? HOWEVER, this isn't only for gay people...I don't know why people are not getting this cuz I posted it every time in the newsgroups. If you are str8, bi whatever...I have no problem at all with you coming on here. Would be great as a matter of fact, but know that there will be gay people at game functions.”
Ultimately, the importance of the gaymer community lies in its common purpose. It is a curious rationale that does not explain any perceived separation. The common purpose is this, “I don’t care about any of this. I just want to talk about video games.” The gaymer is an individual that while a part of the gamer community does not want to waste precious time in-game explaining an identity. The gaymer does not want to waste a wall of text in forums on essays as to why a phrase or meme is offensive. The sameness of the gaymer identity is a promise that like-minded individuals will promote discussion and keep thing fun for the group. That, in the end, is the importance and need for “gaymers.”
While I support the usage of "gaymer" by the community as an identity that is inclusive of gamers regardless of gender or orientation, I feel the petition by Perkins Coie and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in representation of /r/gaymers to cancel the "gaymer" trademark to not be in the best interest of the relevant public.
Gamer is defined by Merriam Webster as someone who is game or someone who plays games, specifically computer and video games. The definition of "gaymer" according to the petition submitted by Perkins Coie and the Electronic Frontier Foundation is as follows, "is commonly used to refer to a gamer who, in addition to considering him or herself a member of the gamer community, also self-identifies with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community." While the petition continues with this definition of "gaymer," the actual supporting documentation only states that gaymer is "a homosexual gamer." Homosexual being defined as a person having desires for or intercourse with the same sex. The supporting documentation provides an exclusive definition of the word gaymer. Yet, the petition carries on with an assumed definition that includes all LGBTQ community members. This is a bit misleading and is the first example of how the petition to challenge the gaymer trademark does a disservice to all parties involved.
Urban Dictionary is a website started in 1999, and allows users to post definitions of "slang words and phrases," according to the Wikipedia entry. "Submissions are regulated by volunteer editors and rated by site visitors." The highest rated definition of the word "gaymer" was submitted on July 27, 2005. Each of the sentences to show use of the word are in the context of referring to men. Two definitions submitted prior to the highest rated definition imply a pejorative use of the word. Another use of the word explicitly names the website gaymer.org. A date ordered list of definitions follows:
3-2-04:One who believes him/herself to be a gamer, but infact is a homosexual person. Thus making them gay + gamer = gaymer.
4-17-04: one who goes to www.gaymer.org
6-4-05: An immature and innacurate insult of a gamer. Commonly used by lonely, fat virgins who have nothing better to do than insult people who play video games. Anyone found using this word should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
7-27-05: a gay person who is also a gamer
4-6-06: An individual who is totally obsessed with video games. Almost driven to the point where games are the only thing that matters emotionally, physically, and sexually.
3-16-07: a homosexual who enjoys video games, sometimes casually or sometimes hardcore.
3-30-10: A gamer who pretends to be a girl when he plays games online with real people.
7-23-11: 1) When a gay guy tries to pick up other men. This is his courting style 2) When a HUGE scrub plays an online videogame such as Call of Duty and sucks major ass. He is usually a fag, gets a few kills if any, and wont shut up the whole time. They also tend to have a very high pitched voice and shriek excitedly over stupid things such as almost killing someone or getting an assist.
3-2-12: A gay gamer.
The petition states that public use of the term "gaymer" began in "at least the early 1990s, when a growing group of individuals within the gaming community began to use it to identify themselves." While not included in the petition two sources of the word "gaymer" are referenced in the Wikipedia article. The first is a usenet post in alt.personals. The poster is a 20 year old white male who defines "gaymer" as a gay role-playing enthusiast. While the first role-playing video game, Dungeon, was released in 1975; it might be possible that the use of the word meant games played on table tops. A second example supports this definition as a Yahoo group started in 2000 states enthusiasm for several forms of non-electronic games. Video games are listed last illustrating that this was not the group's primary focus. The group, however, does state the membership includes, "G/L/Bi/Tv/Tr." Transvestite and transexual at the end, presumably.
The petition contends that the prevalence of the word "gaymer" grew as "video gaming culture" grew. There is no definition for video gaming culture in the petition. We can not assume what this means. A few possibilities exist: rise in sales figures, more individuals identifying as gamers, or a societal reliance on electronic entertainment. The prevalence of "gaymer," however, is tied to this implied growth of video game culture. To reference an increase in video game sales, Wikipedia hosts a list of top selling video game consoles including handheld consoles. The two top selling consoles are the Nintendo DS with 153.67 million released in 2004 and the Playstation 2 with 153.6 million released in 2000. With this in mind, it is possible although not explicit in the petition that video game culture grew within the window of 2000 and 2004. But even within that timeframe, there is no causal relationship between growth in "video game culture" and the supposed prevalence of the word "gaymer."
In 2006, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign sociological study focused on the profile of a "gaymer." The word was used in the survey to refer to a class of gaming (video game-centric) enthusiasts. The survey questioned a sample of gamers regarding their feeling on the term gaymer. The word was defined in the survey as "used to describe gay and lesbian video gamers."
Very positive 6.5%
Generally positive 13%
Generally negative 17.6%
Very negative 11.1%
"Among the respondents who had an opinion, the term "gaymer" was generally viewed as slightly negative with the greatest negativity among heterosexuals. With homosexuals the term was viewed only slightly positively. In general, it appears that the term is not popular, regardless of sexual orientation."
The focus of the study established a class of gamers based on sexual orientation. "Tiny Dancer" wrote an article on GayGamer.net with remarks on the survey's reults, "I must admit, I'm pleased to see that - I've never liked "gaymer" because not only does it look kind of hokey to my eye, it's impossible to speak the word aloud without clarification; and any word that only works in print is fundamentally flawed, especially if it's to be the rallying cry or self-identifier for a group of people who might want to, you know, say it out loud." The article is dated February 26, 2007.
Assuming the growth in "video gaming culture" started in the window of 2000-2004, the petition contends that the prevalence of "gaymer" happened concurrently. According to the Univeristy of Illinois survey and following remarks within the relevant media, however, the word did not catch on as a self-identifier for a class of gaming enthusiasts by 2007.
In 2006, several other artcles were published to GayGamer.net using the term "gaymer." One article links to another source of the definition of gaymer as a homosexual gaymer. One article posted in November 2006 referred to Gaymer as a proper noun explicitly for the site gaymer.org. Founder Chris Vizzini was interviewed by the Australian publication, "the Age."
GayGamer does not use "gaymer" in a headline for an article until May 8, 2007. "'Gaymer' Trademarked?" written by "Fruit Brute" describes a spirited internal debate at gaymer.org. The article goes on to say, "Chris Vizzini has applied for a trademark of the word 'gaymer.' It should be stated that Chris is not trademarking the word in a capacity that would make it unusable by anyone, but rather protecting its use from other online entities that might seek to make profit from his hard work and rightfully so. Having started up this site out of my own pocket, I wouldn't want anyone infringing on my property either." The article is supportive of the trademark, but also respects that some people would feel very strongly about the matter. "Gaymer" is not used as a term in a headline for the rest of 2007.
Since 2008, Dr. Adrienne Shaw of Temple University published several works on the subjects of gender and sexuality within video gaming culture. Her work "What is Video Game Culture?" was the most downloaded article of SAGE Journal in 2010. In this article Dr. Shaw states, "Defining gaming culture as something distinct and separate from a constructed mainstream culture encourages us to only study those who identify as gamers, rather than more dispersed gaming. That is, we should look at video games in culture rather than games as culture. Video games permeate education, mobile technologies, museum displays, social functions, family interactions, and workplaces. They are played by many if not all ages, genders, sexualities, races, religions, and nationalities." Dr. Shaw also published works specifically on gaymers or gay gaming.
The petition neither lists the academic research on the community nor recognizes the distinctiveness of the three predominant gay gamer or gaymer sites.
The petition refers to Reddit Inc as an online social news and entertainment website. The User Agreement hosted on reddit.com contradicts by stating that Reddit Inc is the Service Provider and reddit.com is the Website. A blog post entitled, "How reddit works" defines reddit as not a single community but rather an engine for creating communities. A subreddit is then defined as a class of online community. Since 2008, users of reddit.com or redditors are able to create user controlled subreddits. "How reddit works" describes subreddits as a free market. The creator of the subreddit is the first moderator and subscriber. The subreddit's popularity within the meta-community of reddit.com is then based upon the number of subscribers. Any redditor can subscribe to any subreddit regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race or nationality. Currently /r/gaymers has approximately 22,000 readers or subscribers. The number of active users, however, hover around 100 depending on time of day. The creator, first moderator and first subscriber of /r/gaymers is the redditor MisterGhost.
On the matter of trademarks the reddit User Agreement reads as follows, "You are responsible for ensuring that any graphics, text, photographs, images, video, audio or other material you provide to or post on the Website, including without limitation in bulletin boards, forums, personal ads, chats or elsewhere, does not violate the copyright, trademark, trade secret or any other personal or proprietary rights of any third party or is provided or posted with the permission of the owner(s) of such rights."
The identity of the Petitioner in the petition is /r/gaymers as an unincorporated association. No parties from the association are named in the petition. Petitioner is described as "an association of gaymers who subscribe to the subreddit." Despite the inclusive nature of subscriptions, this description implies exclusion from the class based upon identity as a non-gaymer. The definition of gaymer is repeated in reference to the class, but this definition again is not supported by the attached exhibits.
The details of the registration are a matter of public record. The remark on distinctiveness, however is curious. An entry on Urban Dictionary referencing the registrant's site was made in 2004. The registrant was interviewed for his contribution to the community outside of the geographical market. Membership from gaymer.org interacted with membership from Gamers Experimentations and GayGamer and footage of that interaction was televized during the time of the application. GayGamer.net while acknowledging the internal debate on gaymer.org showed some signs of support for the website and the trademark.
The registrant of the trademark sent a case and desist letter to Reddit Inc as per the procedure prescribed in the reddit User Agreement.
Here is how the petition describes the reaction:
"For Petitioner’s members, many of whom have been politically and/or socially marginalized, the term gaymer represents a community based on a common purpose and activity. They are proud to be members of that community, and were surprised that Registrant claimed ownership of the common term that describes it."
Here is the quote from /r/gaymers creator MisterGhost:
"Gaymers could be banned and deleted by tomorrow, please FUCKING READ!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is incredibly important, and quite frankly too important for a TLDR, so please read.
Someone wants to take gaymers from us. A cease and desist letter has been sent to Reddit. It would seem that the owner of gaymer.org is an incredible douchenozzle and has decided that we somehow are infringing upon his right to run a very subpar blog. Though Gaymercon seems to be A-OK. It seems pretty fucked up that they seem to be ok using the same GAYMER name, even though we aren’t making money. See what it is, is that this motherfucker from gaymer.org is sending reddit a cease and desist letter that we are using a name that he had trademarked in 2007 though whoever gave him that trademark is clearly not the brightest lightbulb in the box. It is a general term, not really sure how we fucking come into play."
While the language the creator of /r/gaymers uses is strong, this was not the first time he spoke up that year on controversies facing his online community. Here is a quote in reference to an incident involving redditors identifying as trans:
"I have no idea what transphobia, biphobia, cisism, or even racism mean it seems. I see these words thrown around a lot, and clearly I must not know the actual definition, because I thought you were either afraid of something or hated something, by showing that through actions of hatred, malice, or genuine terror rather than social faux-pas or a word. I guess I was wrong."
The argument behind the petition is that the mark is generic or descriptive. The trademark does not refer to a specific class of individual. The trademark does not make mention of sexual orientation or gender. The trademark does describe a specific service, an online community. Black's Law Dictionary defines a generic mark as the following, "A legally unprotected, yet distinguishing mark, in the form of a symbol or a word. This mark definitively categorizes and defines a type of product or service. Some examples are name we all know well: Vaseline, Cellophane, Trampoline and Yoyo. Due to generic usage by consumers and competitors it refers to trademark names of goods and services that lost their trademark protection properties over time." Black's Law Dictionary defines a descriptive name as, "A company name or image that describes the good offered."
Personally, I do not believe the petition best serves the intended party. In fact, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the gaymer community demonstrated in the petition. The petition is also exclusive of /r/gaymers' non-gaymer subcriber base. Generic usage implies that a specific class or goods or services is commonly referred to by a generic or descriptive. I do not agree that "gaymers" qualify as a good or service. I support the usage by the community as an identity, and I support the expansion of definition to be inclusive of lasbian, bisexual, trans and cis gamers. The usage of the term as a community identity, however, is irrelevant to its usage as the identity of a single website.
Disclaimer: Although I am a long time member of Gaymer.org, I was not asked by Chris vizzini to write this appeal. Nor do I even know if the situation is peaceful or tenuous enough to receive an appeal. I just know that I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the issue of naming another online community "gaymer."
I am Neshoba. Chances are if there was a message board for gay gamers, I have held an account there. I originally found the community by doing research for a school presentation. at the time, I attended Full Sail and we were tasked with presenting a topic publicly for a game writing class. The topic I chose was "gay friendly game design." My research lead me to the predominately gay gaming site: Gamers Experimentations. I signed up for the site and amassed a group of friends from the small, close-knit community. This was in 2004.
At the same time, another community emerged named Gaymer.org. I was initially apprehensive to join the site. In a professional atmosphere, any discussion of sexuality could get you flagged. But, that apprehensiveness disappeared when Gamers Experimentations went down after a hacker attacked us. In the weeks that followed, many of us crossed the border between (and the Simpsons metaphor was used) Springfield and Shelbyville. And to my surprise, I found no less love in Gaymer.org than I found in Gamers Experimentations.
We progressed. We stood and were counted during a survey of the gaymer community. In 2007, members of Gamers Ex, Gaymer.org and GayGamer appeared in a news piece on MTV. And since then, we have advanced further into games development and journalism.
Now, the discussion we hold today is very much the same discussion we held back in 2007. Personally, I did my fair share of stirring the pot. I drug in the founder of Gamers Ex and the eyes of GayGamer to be very critical of the Gaymer trademark. I understand the argument of allowing one person to hold control over a word that describes an entire community. I was staunchly opposed then, and I am opposed now. However, allowing one person to hold control over a word in the connotation of describing a community was never the issue. It only pertains to the naming of an online community.
Flash forward, and the community at large has adopted the identity of "gaymer." Chris has held no objection to the adoption by the commuinity and has even address redditors as "fellow gaymers." Still, as it was in 2007 not everybody is happy being known as a gaymer. Some in our community see it as too political or not inclusive enough for all the members of the LGBTQ gaming community. Some would just rather be known as gamers. And for the large part, everybody just wants to get back to talking about games.
If anything positive emerged out of the discussion in 2007 and similarly the one today, then it was the fact that we came together and got to know each other better. Reddit is fantastic and brilliant. The evidence of a gaymer community in Usenet posts dating back to 1991 is fascinating. And it proves to me that conceivably gay gamers has existed since the first video game was crowd sourced at MIT. We are no longer "not aware" of each other's pockets of the gaymer community. we now acknowledge where we've been.
Going forward, I see a change in the video game industry. I believe that EA's vision of a future where games are more services than products is closer to reality. I've chosen to focus on web development as I see a broader future for browser and mobile apps. Games will enjoy more DLC and User Generated Content. So, here's where we are all thrilled that our community has grown exponentially. We need you. We need you to continue on as gaymers and carry on from us the legacy we've held in development and journalism. We need coders and community managers, and we're willing to help you all become as brilliant as we know you to be.
In closing, I want to leave you with an image from my childhood and possibly most of yours. In "The Neverending Story", a young boy seeks refuge from bullies in a dusty shop. He discovers a book that follows the adventures of another young boy who's basically a counterpart or avatar. A malignance threatens the land. It's discovered that the only cure is for the Childlike Empress to receive a new name from an outsider. The malignance, The Nothing, spreads and tears apart a world of "human fantasy". Finally, the young reader picks a name but seemingly too late, because all that's left of the wondrous world is a single grain of sand.
For the sake of hyperbole and melodrama, I stand before you in the dark with a single grain of sand. That's all that's left of our community. I leave you with this proposal: make a wish, pick a name. Know that when you do, you should pick a name that's inclusive of all LGBTQ gamers. Know that when you pick a name, the community will live on in you. It will live on in your dreams and wishes. Some day, when our community has once again grown exponentially, we will look back at this moment and say: we gathered our history and looked to our future. And we will all move on, together.