Romero's Wives

Had to be Margaret Robertson not wearing skirts and not wearing heels
Had to be Jenn Frank explaining equality is compassionate to all
Had to be a handful of female main characters in a triple A sea
Had to be trying to write like a man when ‘man’ isn’t a standard
The games industry is a young man in love with his libido
I have a libido

Had to be screamed from the studies of businesswomen
Had to be hissed under breaths in bars in San Francisco in March
Had to be ummed by women games designers
Had to be thought in elevators at conferences
Had to be leant over a keyboard at 3am with Merlot eyes half shut
Had to be seen in absence
Had to be seen in the lack of trying
Had to be seen in statistics of applications
Had to be segregated in schools
Had to be guided away from sciences
Had to be a self-taught programmer
Our apathy and the games industry are in cahoots

Had to be Mattie Brice making a game in order to be a main character
Had to be Lara Croft being sold on asscheeks and groans
Had to be Rhianna Pratchett asking what if the player is female
Had to be Leigh Alexander on a Bombcast
Had to not be promoted despite being the most experienced member of staff
Had to be fake geek girls
Had to be John Walker receiving hatemail
Had to be Alec Meer waiting on misogynists, deleting
A Giant Bomb thread on Kieron Gillen’s opinion of Hey, Baby

Brenda Braithwaite is uncomfortable at E3, she is E3, she is E3
Had to be getting back to talking about games

Had to be moaned through knees in the bath
Had to be deleted from the inbox
Had to be written in articles never published
Had to be a footnote
Had to be in fear
Had to be ejected by our Kerouacs
Had to be Mardou Fox insane in the rain
Had to be told to stop talking about it
Had to be verbally abused
Had to be Lana Polansky afraid of vulnerability
Had to be Patricia Hernandez wanting to talk
Had to be Tracey afraid to comment on her own site
Had to be Leena told that she needed a good raping
Shirley Procter is at Eurogamer Expo talking to NVidia PR on issues of attire
Katie Williams is being harassed and dismissed for writing about bad PR practice
Robert Florence writes about bad PR practice, his appearance irrelevant
Had to be crunch time preventing young mothers from developing games
Had to be female game developers mistaken for booth babes
Had to be Hazel McKendrick dying from a thousand papercuts
Anita Sarkeesian’s face is bruised

Had to be Courtney Stanton harassed and threatened with rape
Bigger than Courtney
Bigger than Penny Arcade
Had to be rage
Had to be fear
Had to refuse to think Anna Anthropy’s Dys4ia is a game
Had to be those ballbusting feminazis who can’t get laid
Had to be Ben Kuchera writing about how publishers don’t support games with female characters
Had to be a man asking my boyfriend about games, I am here I am here
Had to be the head of a games publisher asking me at interview what my father does for a living
Had to be John Romero’s wife
Had to be John Romero’s wives
Had to be John Romero’s wives
All had to be John Romero’s wives
All had to be John Romero’s wives
All had to be John Romero’s wives

An homage to Ginsberg’s great poem Hadda Be Playing on the Jukebox, with flourishes by the great Jenn Frank. I betrothe this to her. The term ‘Romero’s wives’ is taken from a news post by a journalist referring to industry legend Brenda Romero/Brathwaite primarily as John Romero’s wife.’


  1. fuck yes

  2. q0rt

    holy fucking fuck

  3. jennatar

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I think this is our defining moment.Cara!

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  5. patrickklepek


  6. Forderz

    I may not know who half these people are, but I can feel their frustration, their rage and pain. And their feelings of helplessness when theïr industry tells them to “grow some balls.”

  7. BigShellEvent

    @desensitisation @Carachan1 oh my god. RT it tomorrow when others are awake, this needs to be read. oh my god.

  8. desensitisation

    @grassisleena @Carachan1 For the first time in forever I haven’t felt like I was so incredibly alone. Thank you for the poem, Cara.

  9. maximum_data

    I can’t even understand what’s trying to be said here…

  10. TheBeerNerd

    Powerful, powerful stuff.

  11. psientist

    powerful fucking rhythm indeed
    I like how the repeated  “had to be” creates the background noise of misogyny and marginalization (ha the phrase creates a margin!)
    The signal of “wait, what’s with all the balls? vaginas are cool too!” comes through clearly
    A hopefully hopeful note:
    Gaming mythos has been controlled by merchants for a long time, and killable monsters and fuckable babes provides a profitable mythos
    game developers developing for art’s sake, game developers who started their developer careers by playing
    game developers who want to realize a world in pixel form want honey
    honey is not homogenous sweetness
    honey is what happens when bees keep puking
    honey is what honies aren’t

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  19. I think you pretty much covered everything, but I didn’t want to leave this excellent outpouring without any comments.

    Thanks again for writing it and for helping make video game culture a little less shitty every day.

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  21. Thanks for telling how it is.

  22. die GameFrau

    I cried. Thank you.

  23. your fucking cock mother bitch

    wow this is fucking terrible… god damn femi nazu fat slut whore

    • Your ugliness isn’t becoming.

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  25. Goo

    Ginsberg is turning over in his grave right about now.

    • only because the entire beat movement was a misogynistic boy’s club. i still like ginsberg, tho

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  28. Between this and playing Howling Dogs this morning I’ve kinda had to seriously re-evaluate my life. Odd day.

  29. I felt the Ginsberg inspiration when I heard this. Wonderful, thank you so much for speaking out. 🙂

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  31. Corey

    I cried. Not because of the poem, but because Ginsberg is better than your inane oppression fetish.

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