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.
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.