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.
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.
I spent 15 minutes looking up synonyms for "unruly" before I stumbled across "Outfoxies."
No one will apologize for TMNT Smash Up. The fighter borne of a Cumulus Derivatus cloud was drenched with "Smash Bros." and "Ninja Turtle" raindrops. The game was credited as the imaculate conception of Game Arts sans the seed of Sora Ltd. It nestled between "real" Smash Bros. and a real turtle-power fighter. A few matches left this blogger with one thought, "kinda makes me want to play Brawl." At the same time, the word "improvement" suggests a wish list for a hypothetical sequel. If only there was a better roster, maybe then it would be a complete package. If only the game wasn't so achingly derivative of Smash Bros, maybe then it would hold a 13+ year-old's attention.
I've done far too much homework on this subject. Like most of my aging Gen-X hipster compatriots, I can trace my deep affection for games back to the same time as my deep affection for turtles. I cried manly tears to the tune of the Brawl opening's Latin chant. I wanted to cry those same manly tears for turtles, but the Wii version of the game gave me Rabbids in lieu of Usagi Yojimbo and gave me a generic stage hazard croc in lieu of Leatherhead. We had three versions of "Tournament Fighters" generations ago that featured more variety in characters. Universes collided between cartoon franchises, Mirage and Archie comic books. Brawl blew the horn and broke the seventh seal. That same collision that happened in Tournament Fighters should have happened again.
The problem with Smash Up as a derivation of Brawl is actually more a fact of its history. Smash Bros. can trace its roots back to the Namco arcade game, "Outfoxies." Ninja Turtles, (OMG Francine, Ninja Turtles) how does one begin to unravel that multiverse and find the "Prime Turtles"? Oh, that was done and reconciled in the "Turtles Forever" movie. Ninja Turtles as it existed in Smash-Up is a derivation of the 2007 CGI movie Ninja Turtles which was a derivation of the 2003 kids 'toon which was a derivation of the 1987 kids 'toon and the 1984 comic book. If nothing is new under the sun, then Smash Up was less a celebration of turtles and more an elaboration on the plot of the Michael Keaton film "Multiplicity."
So, we've brought the noise, brought the rant, brought the litany of flaws. If we don't offer constructive comments to improve a game in a sequel, then we are feeding into the problem.
A #1, top of the list, king of the heap, we want Usagi Yojimbo. Do we even care at this point if he plays like a Leonardo clone? Yes, a samurai is not a ninja and ne'er the 'twain shall meet. Give us the long floppy ears and blue kimono that we deserve not Ubisoft's blessed Rabbids (may they rave in Hell).
From Usagi's presence, I would infer the broader issue of including characters from multiple universes. We only need four turtles (maybe Slash, maybe Metal Head... ugh, Venus...). Just skin the core cast if we're playing lip service to Turtle-Manhattan Historia. The one big success of Brawl, however, was bringing together the video game multiverse and threading a continuity not attempted since "Captain N".
Wingnut and Screwloose should stand shoulder to shoulder with Fugitoid. Florida-born-yet-somehow-Cajun Leatherhead should slug it out with Tokka and Rahzar. And a turtles game without Rocksteady and Bebop is a miserable creature indeed.
I'm a fan of Turtle-Manhattan, but the Technodrome is where it's at in video games. Let us hear the roar of Triceraton crowds from the center of a Battle Arena. Send us on an inter-galactic and inter-dimensional romp atop the head of Cudley the Cowlick.
It's pure aesthetics. Character models and backdrops keep this game from being a "real" Smash Bros. (read, "love letter to a franchise"). As a derivative, Smash Up would stand out as a kind of chicken-flavor (turtle-flavor?) among all the packs of metaphorical beef ramen. Hell, Namco finally squeezed out an "Outfoxies" derivative themselves in "Tales Vs."
Welcome to a day in the life of a simple shepherd. The original slacker Little Boy Blue sits reclining on his ramshackle abode. Up walks Ivy. She's a broad shouldered wench with the face of a dog's rear end. "My dad would like to have a talk with you." Defiantly, the shepherd jams on the Y button to speed through an otherwise banal dialogue. A quest! You must go to town and talk to Ivy's dad. But, no. Little Boy Blue has other plans, and this is how I spent the time with the Arcania Gothic 4 demo.
Given the control layout. I noticed that the X Button serves as the melee command. Since the shepherd's crook was strapped to his back, I thought it was worth a shot to see if I could swing it around. What came next was a mass murder of my own flock of sheep. Thankfully, it was not a fruitless exercise as I was rewarded with a lamb chop for every felled ungulate. That leads me to believe that Arcania is the work of Satan's right hand game designer. Hilarity ensued when one sheep corpse rolled off a cliff and into the sea water below. The ocean, BTW, only disappeared once as a result of moving the camera around.
The jumping in this game is inhuman and makes you effect a dead-on Spring Heeled Jack. With crook in hand you're ready to wreak havoc in Ivy's hometown. But wait! What if you could jump over mountains? Good news! With your freakish leap you can scale even the steepest rock walls. Now you don't have wall crawling powers like a web head. Satan's game designer also placed convenient invisible walls in-game. But, what of those tempting fences and brick walls in the back of town? Surely those are no obstacle for our intrepid slacker shepherd. Thankfully, you can leap into trees and onto rocks. So, I was able to take the shepherd outside of town into the Arcania demo's own version of the minus world. Now, was I meant to explore the game outside of town in the demo? Maybe. Though, I have yet to progress the story past two conversations cause it's much more fun to do things that the game doesn't want you to do.
I played golf with sea turtles, scaled the highest peak on foot and dove into the ocean from the cliffs. One time, I died and then the shepherd's body jumped from the water in a rag doll's pose like a flying fish. Does this make a good impression for an under-the-radar RPG hit? No. But, I sure hope Two Worlds II can offer slightly better.