Playing Games

I first heard game terminology to indicate sexual experience in a BDSM context. People who participate in the BDSM lifestyle talk about sexual partner as “play buddies” or “play partner.” They talk about sex parties as “play parties,” and they recount a sexual encounter by saying something like “I played with her last Saturday.” My understanding, as a person outside of the BDSM culture, for them adopting this kind of game terminology in regards to sexual experiences and relationships is that BDSM encounters are rather planned out. There is often role playing and scenes set up/acted out, and there are definitely rules set beforehand, outlining boundaries and safewords, since “NO” is usually not the indicator for withdrawn consent in a BDSM scenario. This is all part of the “game” they’re playing.

(ASIDE: At least, I hope these boundaries and safewords are discussed beforehand. If they aren’t, get away from that person fast.)

Although I once used the word “game” with a dom, and he got terribly upset and offended, as this was not a “game” to him, it was his lifestyle. His orientation. I later discovered this very dom, fortunately never a lover of mine, was a narcissist and rather sadistic, both sexually and emotionally to his wife and his lovers.

I digress, imagine that.

It is a lifestyle and orientation, indeed. The way those in BDSM set up their “play parties,” and the way they discuss their encounters and partners are all centered around game terminology.

I have absolutely no problem with game terminology being used in the BDSM lifestyle. For many participating in those communities, perhaps there needs to be a separation between every day life and their “play parties” or “play sessions” because those often consist of staggering humiliation and physical pain, either given or received. There must be a clear difference and separation. between reality and their “play time.”

Again, I don’t know first hand. Although I’ve toyed (again with the game terminology) with some submissive tendencies, I’ve always made it verbally clear beforehand that I was not, by any means, into humiliation or pain. I have had partner not respect those boundaries, which means those encounters crossed into the realm of sexual assault and rape. Two things very common in BDSM, polyamorous, and other sex-positive communities.

And yet, I digress.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard these game terminologies used by people in the poly community and even by those who are just dating. They would say “we played together once” when talking about a former lover. The Rapist, in our short-lived relationship, used game terminology a lot. After a specific sexual encounter he’d say “I’ve played that game with so-and-so before,” or “I like that game.” The use of such terminology, likening intimate sexual encounters to games, threw up serious red flags during the first month, wondering if I was just a toy to him although his actions spoke quite deeply that I wasn’t. His words did, too, about half the time. I kept emotional distance at first, watching to see if his words and actions matched. (Now, by the way, I’d be out of there. But then now, I wouldn’t be having sex in the first place.) Then one day, we were discussing spirituality and his meditation practice, and he said that meditating was a game he liked to play. That’s when I questioned it. If he used game terminology to indicate something as sacred as spirituality, then it must mean something different when he says it.

Rookie mistake at 42. Assuming that people hold spirituality sacred. Newsflash: predators don’t. They’ll use it because decent people think that it is sacred. Hmmm. Digress…

I asked him about it, and he fed me some story about an old friend and lover whose father would turn everything into a game. If they had a flat tire on the side of the road, he’d make a game out of it to lighten the mood and stress, getting the family though the crisis with humor and making light of the situation.

I tragically believed him.

At the end of it, after he raped me twice, humiliated me, and tossed me aside like garbage–after he crossed the country to stalk me and turned my community against me–I realized that the entire spirituality thing was as much of a game as my heart, my mind, and my body was to him.

I’m here to tell you, as a woman who has had her share of love, heartbreak, and trauma, that my heart, my soul, my body, and especially my mind are not your fucking toys.

Unless that’s agreed upon at the very beginning, with terms outlined, negotiated, and understood, much as in proper BDSM encounters, this is not a fucking game.

You do not play with my body.
You do not play with my heart.
You absolutely don’t fucking play manipulative mind games.

I’d like to see us move away from game terminology when discussing intimate encounters, sexuality as well as of the heart. This is not a game, people. In fact, I don’t think there are many things more serious and sacred than love and how we express that love, especially sexually.

To turn that into a game without consent makes you just like a manipulative, sociopathic narcissist. Don’t do it.

Respect your partners. Respect their hearts, their bodies, and their minds.

May you find peace.

~ by omgrey on May 29, 2013.

14 Responses to “Playing Games”

  1. Agreed, 100%. Unfortunately the game terminology has permeated many things, including those most sacred. If you make a complaint against an employee of a business, for instance, the boss will say that he/she will “coach” the employee on better behavior. You will also be told they work “as a team.” Since when did my phone company or cable company turn into a football team? When someone i’m paying to service me acts horribly or illegally, i want them corrected, written up, fired, whatever – -not “coached.” It’s very dismissive.

    And in the bdsm community as well, there is plenty of abuse, and plenty of minimizing of what’s going on by using game terminology. Even when it’s not abusing someone, it’s just so sad to reduce intimacy to game terminology. They think they’ve gained something by doing this, rather than what i see as losing something. If you actually watch some activities, such as pressing a knife against someone’s skin, and hear it called “knife play,” you would cry. Then there’s needle-play, fire-play, etc etc.

    • Indeed. Even blood play. I’ve used that term in my novels, always in the mouths of sociopaths.

      Thank you for your comment. xo

  2. I’ve always hated game terms even when it’s referring to flirting. Yeah, flirting can be light-hearted, but when you call it a “game” or a “chase”, you’re not going to respect the other person. By extension, I think this is why I never accepted “because it’s fun” as a reason to have sex and told my partner to give me more than that before I would give him what he wanted. Intimacy shouldn’t be reduced to pure entertainment.

    • I totally agree. It’s got to me a rather shallow unfulfilling experience, when considered “fun” and entertainment. I object to those terms all the time. Also aside from the lack of respect for people, and the act, suggested by those words, i greatly resent the idea that a new (male) lover, esp someone who is a relative stranger, could ever be presented as fun to a woman, as women always have to worry about rape, pregnancy, mental and physical abuse etc. It shows me that those males are clueless or pretending to be so, and thus dangerous.

      • Quite clueless, many of them. No doubt. I’ve found that the kindest, most respectful men are the ones that have a clue. Few and far between, I’m afraid.

    • Agreed on the respect.

      Especially in serious relationships, intimacy should be present without sex and then deepened with it.

  3. […] Caught in the Cogs […]

    • Why, thank you! As per my schedule, it will likely be awhile before I can pass this forward, but I will do my best not to forget. I’m honored you chose me.

  4. […] was raped with a knife, something her dom was into and kept trying to talk her into it during their play sessions. She repeatedly said she wasn’t ready for penetration with a knife…well, he decided […]

  5. In the BDSM community, or at least some BDSM communities, play does not necessarily equal sexual activity.

    It really depends on the community. The communities that I have been in contact with use play in a more innocent context, and theatrical terminology is much more prevalent than game terminology. People play together much like children play together: with the goal of mutual enjoyment. They actual act is a scene, because the context is fictional. Like a scene from a play. Oh, there’s that word again.

    Of course, there are some BDSM communities that are poisonous. These communities are built for the benefit of a select few, and are designed to make everyone else subservient to these few who abuse as they will. These groups flourish in an atmosphere of ignorance, representing their way of doing things as the one true way, and suppressing any hint of other ways.

    I find it interesting that the same terms are used to describe activities both innocent and malevolent.


    • Great observations, Doc!

    • I disagree with you, Doc. I am familiar with the terms “scene,” etc, and it is the same concept as the game terminology — reducing what is a serious act with potentially, and often, serious consequences to something trivial. These people are not acting out “scenes” from Mary Poppins. They are not enacting children in a sandbox building a sandcastle. Dont fool yourself.

      • Well, actually, my community contains “littles”, people who ageplay as small children, so sometimes they ARE literally acting out scenes from Mary Poppins or in a sandbox building a sandcastle.

        I’m not saying that everything in my community is all rainbows and light, or trying to trivialize some of the serious problems out there. I just wanted to provide a different perspective for comparison.


      • Ageplay usually means one person acting as a child, while another acts as an adult. Is that what you mean?

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