Often in life, split second decisions can have far reaching consequences we never would have imagined. Six years ago I started this blog, shedding my previous online moniker of filmgurl, a name I coined in college that declared my love of cinema, and chose to call myself “Gamerwife.”
At the time, the name was mean to reflect my commitment to my then fiance, Rick, and his lifestyle as a gamer. Was it a weird move for a self-avowed feminist to choose a name that so deeply tied my identify to my marital status? Hells yeah. But, at the time I wanted to play with the idea of reclaiming the word ‘wife,’ even if most of my content was around wedding planning, decorating and vegan recipes.
The name was mostly meant as a middle ground between the established tropes of ‘gamergirl’ and ‘gamerwidow,’ signifying that while I wasn’t comfortable labeling myself as a ‘gamer,’ I did want to express an acceptance and even celebration of gamer culture from the point of view of someone immersing themselves in it for the first time. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that my name could be turning people off.
I never thought of myself as someone who defines my identify around a man, but in a way the name ‘Gamerwife’ does just that. Over time I’ve changed the definition to mean “married to games” so that it jives better with my values of intersectional feminism, diversity and accessibility in the video game world, as well as my growing confidence in labeling myself a gamer, not just someone married to one.
I think the real turning point in my identify as ‘Gamerwife’ happened when Rick introduced me to Mass Effect and Femshep. I knew it was common in RPGs to have a choice between male and female protagonists, but the more I looked into it, the more impressed I was with what Bioware had done. While I still considered myself a newcomer to games, I was all too aware as a women working in the games industry of the often horrific ways women were treated both in games and in gamer culture. The creation of such a great female video game character, almost by accident, fascinated me.
And then, the first Kickstarter for Women and Tropes in Video Games launched and there was no denying it any longer. Video games had a problem with women and as a woman in this space, even peripherally, I had a responsibility to speak up.
I started Dames Who Make Games to give a face and a voice to my fellow ladies in the industry. I started looking more critically at how women and minorities are portrayed in games. I even got a chance to speak on a panel at PAX Prime about diversity in video games. I got involved with organizations like Pixelles and the Mount Royal Game Society to help shape the future of video games.
And yet, I still feel a certain insecurity when talking about my status as a ‘gamer.’ Yes, I probably spend more time talking and thinking about video games than most people. But I still struggle with most mainstream games. I rarely finish games over 10 hours long and I almost never spend 20 or more hours a week playing games. I watch Netflix while Rick and his buddies play Overwatch.
I guess I don’t fit most people’s definitions of a ‘gamer.’ So for now, I’m fine being a ‘gamerwife.’