In 2008 Chris Vizzini, owner of Gaymer.org, controversially filed a trademark on the term ‘gaymer’, specifically the use of the term in regard to online entities. Many, including those here on GayGamer, disagreed with this move. But years passed and nothing ever seemed to come of the trademark’s existence. Cut to 2012 and the users of subreddit /r/gaymers received a cease and desist from Vizzini, sparking a digital battle over the word ‘gaymer’ and its uses. While Vizzini brandished his ownership of the trademark the majority of gay gamers, including some users of gaymer.org, came out in support of /r/gaymers and more specifically the freedom of the word altogether. Many cited uses of the term that existed earlier than the filed trademark, while others rallied around the term ‘gaymer’ as an identity that cannot be owned. The “I am a Gaymer” campaign was born.
In early 2013 the battle was taken to court with /r/gaymers being represented pro bono by Perkins Cole and the EFF.
Today we find out that Gaymer.org is officially closed. In an official statement from Vizzini, as found on Gaymer.org’s front page (emphasis mine):
“The world is a very different place than it was 10 years ago when I started the site. This is also true for the Internet. There wasn’t a clear beacon for gay gamers. We had no voice. If there had been, there would have been no need for me to start a site.
Back in 2003, the word gaymer was an insult so I thought that making it into a positive by naming the site gaymer.org was a cool idea.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m involved in some legal muck with the members of the subreddit /r/gaymers who do not agree with my having the word Gaymer trademarked which I’ve had since 2008. My trademark, in a nutshell, is use of the word gaymer for an online community that is about video games.
I’m letting go. I’d just be outspent if I pushed the case forward. Closing the site might seem like a case of sour grapes but it’s really not.
I had a couple of goals in mind when I began the site. One was to make change – make change for the word gaymer and gay gamers themselves. I wanted to give them someplace safe to come when they were called names. I wanted them to feel not so alone in the gaming world and feel unconditionally accepted. Another goal was to help people meet each other. They did. They became friends, boyfriends and, in one case, two people got married. I’m extremely proud of that.
Here it is 10 years later. The word gaymer has changed so much that people are willing to fight for it. I couldn’t ask for more if I’m going to lose the trademark. It wasn’t for nothing.
I come from the school of thought that, if create something and you put in the hours, the work, the money and your heart in it, that it belongs to you. I thought that’s part of what being an American was about. Especially if you played by the book and took all the right legal channels. What I found out in the end that it doesn’t matter what you do, if a big law firm powerful enough comes along and wants to take it, they will and there’s not much you can do about it.
The reason I’m closing the site is because the goals were accomplished but also because I feel disconnected from gay gamers having seen their ugly side though all of this. I know it’s not all gay gamers from the members of my site but its was enough of them saying hurtful things so loudly that it has put me off. What was once a source of passion has now become a source of pain and it’s time to walk away and say goodbye.
I hope the passion comes back one day because if it does, the site will come back up.
To the members, I wanted to say thank you for all the fun. You will be missed more than you know.
If any of you can help out with the lawyer bill, that would be awesome and really appreciated. Just click the donate button.”
You can visit Gaymer.org for the full statement, in which Vizzini recaps in detail the entire story from his perspective. He touches on not only the battle between himself and /r/gaymers, but on the birth of GaymerX/GaymerConnect, and even mentions li’l ol’ GayGamer.net.
It’s surprising to see Vizzini close down his site altogether, given that loss of the trademark would in no way affect his ability to own and operate it.
While specifics of the legal battle and its outcome have yet to emerge it would seem that, for now, the fight over the term ‘gaymer’ has come to an end.