What's in a Nayme?: The Term “Gaymer” Belongs to All of Us Now

Blogger Chris Vizzini thought he was fighting for the little guy when he trademarked the term “gaymer” in 2008, two years after launching his website, Gaymer.org. Traditionally, the word had been a pejorative directed at gay video game nerds. It didn't refer to any particular community; if you Googled “gaymer” you'd get Judy Gaymer's Facebook page and scads of Internet trolls using the word as an insult, Vizinni wrote in a blog post to explain his motivations. He wanted to commandeer the term so that others could only use it to describe his website — which Vizzini characterized as “a clear beacon for gay gamers.” He wasn't bullying members of the community; rather, he was acting as their protector.

But a group of gay and lesbian gamers from the social network Reddit challenged Vizzini after he sent them cease and desist letters for using “r/gaymers” as the moniker for their web forum. Abetted by lawyers from the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation and Perkins Coie, they petitioned the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to revoke Vizzini's trademark in January. Last Wednesday, he voluntarily surrendered. As EFF intellectual property director Corynne McSherry argued, no person should be allowed to own a group identity.

To his credit, though, Vizzini helped crystallize the term's current meaning. Google “gaymer” now and you'll get a huge Wikipedia page with a full section on the trademark controversy. Search for “Gaymer.org” and you'll find Vizzini's last beleaguered blog post, and a donation button for lawyer fees.

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