Rants & Essays

Addressing the ‘Wife’ in ‘Gamerwife’

Addressing the -wife- in -Gamerwife- | Gamerwife.com

Addressing the -wife- in -Gamerwife- | Gamerwife.com 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.’

You Might Also Like

19 Comments

  • Reply
    Nicole
    June 27, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I understand your predicament to a certain degree. When I started Pure Geekery four years ago, I used what had just been my twitter tag line. (I had run out of space to list my hobbies, so I just went with “Pure Geekery.”) And as geek culture has changed, and become just a part of pop culture, I’m not sure I self identify with the term “geek” as I once did.

    But, as far as your blog name in particular, I think as a feminist you can call yourself whatever you want. It’s making “wife” a choice, rather than a requirement, that makes feminism awesome.

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 29, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Thanks, Nicole. Online identity is such a weird concept in a lot of ways, but I guess you’re identity is really whatever you define it as. And yes, I totally agree about wife being a choice. It’s something that’s very important to me.

  • Reply
    patriciaaworley
    June 28, 2016 at 4:46 am

    Hmm…I have ALWAYS thought —> β€œmarried to games” I guess I just don’t take stock in words the way people do. I’m not a feminist in the slightest, I’m an egalitarian, so I wouldn’t care about anyone using “wife” as either good or bad–you call it what you want, and it makes sense and that’s that. But like the other commenter said, you can call yourself whatever you want (just don’t say wifey or hubs because those are awful words LOOL)

    Anyway, good to read! I’ve had about 10000000 blog name changes and crisises and can’t nail down who I am, so I’m just excited to actually have a name that suits me; haifisch. anddddddddddddd it’s in another language.

    marketing fail.

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 29, 2016 at 9:52 am

      Sorry to bust your bubble, Alex, but you’re a feminist. πŸ˜‰ Although it gets twisted around, at it’s root feminism is really just about believing men and women deserve equal rights. All the rest is just personal dressing.

      I like the name Haifisch for your blog, though. Because it’s in another language it’s easier for it to stand for whatever you put on your blog, not what others think it means on it’s own.

  • Reply
    Lazy Lady (@the_lyn)
    June 28, 2016 at 11:16 am

    I am totally picking up what you are putting down. And I think it’s kind of poetic how your blog name has evolved.

    I, too, am hesitant to call myself a gamer in certain circles. Or I will call myself only a tabletop gamer, even though I play video games too, just because I know I can’t be challenged on that title.

    Keep up the awesome content you create, I’ll read it no matter the blog title. πŸ˜‰

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 29, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Thank you, Lyn. It was kind of hard to realize that I had chosen to define myself by my relationship with a man at the start, but I’ve never let it define me elsewhere.

  • Reply
    Fiona
    June 30, 2016 at 6:52 am

    I think you completely own your name and I’d be sad if you were anything else! Sometimes I think about band names, like red hot chilli peppers and have weird thoughts, like if I were their friend i’d probably would of been like “nah don’t define yourself with chillies” ha ha ha – but their name is honestly just a name, they own it, they are it and it would be weird if they were anything else!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      June 30, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Thanks, Fiona. And that’s a good point about band names. Some of my favourite bands have totally dumb, or kind of upsetting names (ever looked up where Joy Division came from?)

  • Reply
    kaycreate
    July 1, 2016 at 9:55 am

    I’m glad that you’ve stuck with the name, and that it has evolved in meaning for you. And while GamerWife may mean more along the lines of ‘married to games’ now, even if it was referring to you directly being a wife, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Being a wife is a personal choice, and there’s nothing wrong with being proud of it. I’m a complete feminist, and I’m a stay-at-home mom. Some people can’t reconcile those two things, but it’s all about choice!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      July 1, 2016 at 6:27 pm

      Thanks, Kay. And you’re right. The most important thing I’ve learned while exploring feminism is that it really is about choice and that it’s okay to be proud of your choices even if other don’t understand them right away.

  • Reply
    Jessica
    July 2, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    I think your blog name is awesome! The first time I saw it I thought “how cute!” When I first came across it I didn’t think “married to games” or “married to a gamer” I just thought you were married and you liked video games! πŸ˜‰

    • Reply
      Mariko
      July 4, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks, Jessica. And I’m glad to hear you weren’t turned off by my name, but I do also get how some people could be made uncomfortable by the “wife” part being so present. Like I’m rubbing the fact that I’m married in their faces or something. πŸ™

      • Reply
        Jessica | OhHeyJess.com
        July 6, 2016 at 7:37 pm

        Well at the time I WAS married so I thought it was cool and I was even a little jealous that I didn’t think of the name first lol! (Just being honest!) It’s a great blog name, I love it!

        • Reply
          Mariko
          July 7, 2016 at 1:12 pm

          Hahaha. Thanks, Jess.

  • Reply
    Dina Farmer
    July 4, 2016 at 3:44 am

    You know I always viewed you blog as a gamer who is also a wife. Kind of like my tag line on my blog. I have always been a gamer but it comes and goes in periods of my life. I would never say I’m uncomfortable with the title more I am uncomfortable with peoples interpretation of what a gamer is. I play otome games on my phone and other cell phone games like “Tiny Thief” or AB Pop and I play Mass Effect and Dragon Age on the console when I can. It is all about time and as a gaming parent I don’t have the luxury to sit down anymore and play 60 hours games within a week. It’s impossible additionally, I have a travel bug that makes it hard to stay at home. So I get what you are saying. I think you percept of the image you have out right now actually aligns with that I thought which is a gamer who is a wife. Either way Mariko you are awesome!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      July 4, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Thank you, Dina. I guess over time I have become a gamer who is a wife, as opposed to just being the wife of a gamer. But yeah, I also really want to challenge people’s ideas of what a ‘gamer’ is that isn’t tied to time played or specific genres. You play games? Boom! You’re a gamer.

      • Reply
        Dina Farmer
        July 6, 2016 at 2:45 pm

        Yes, exactly so! I think if you play games you are a gamer and that’s pretty much it.

  • Reply
    Jane Y.
    July 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

    I also viewed you as a gamer who was also a wife. i don’t think i have ever thought i was a gamer. i like games – certain games, certain old old games which I like to play over and over and over again (like Diablo 2 LOD over Diablo 3). and i like watching people play games – especially final fantasy. but i just thought i was never hard core enough to say hey i’m a gamer! but i’m ok with that. i don’t necessarily have to have that tag. i just like finding people who like diablo 2 LOD ha! πŸ˜‰

    • Reply
      Mariko
      July 7, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      I just hate the way terms like “gamer” are used to gatekeep a subculture and discourage a diverse community. That’s why I advocate so hard for women and other minorities to embrace the game identity and help change the public perception of what a “gamer” is. But maybe I’ll have to start playing Diablo 2, although 3 is really fun and worth checking out if you haven’t already. πŸ˜‰

    Penny for your thoughts...