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are definitely rules set beforehand, outlining boundaries and safewords, since “NO” is usually not the indicator for withdrawn consent in a BDSM scenario.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.