Get your barf bags ready, 'cause this one's a doozy. GameCrush is a douchetastic new web service wherein men pay women to play video games with them. Don't even bother clicking on that link - the beta version has been down almost since the day it went live earlier this week, crushed (har har) by the overwhelming user response.
GameCrush touts itself as a social networking service (or "online adult social gaming site", as the handy-dandy FAQ puts it), and in a way, it is. Anyone can sign up for a free "Player" or "PlayDate" account and profile... but there the similarities end. Players browse through PlayDates' profiles to find one that strikes their fancy then request games with PlayDates, while PlayDates can only accept or reject Players' requests. Players rate PlayDates on "hotness, flirtiness and gaming skill", while PlayDates don't rate Players at all. And, obviously, Players pay while PlayDates get paid to play (say it five times fast). The problem is right there in the gross, cutesy, innuendo-laden terminology: men are active Players, women are passive PlayDates.
Now, there are not technically any gender requirements to be a Player or a PlayDate, but the site's marketing definitely targets hetero males, so any gay and/or male PlayDates are probably not going to get enough business to make it worth their while. Players pay $6-8 to hire PlayDates for ten minutes of gameplay. The pricing is on a credit system, with an average game being 500 credits, or $8.25; pricing also depends on whether you play a flash game like Battleship or an Xbox Live game like Halo 3. It's apparently based on how much a man would pay to buy a girl a drink at a bar.... you know, in the real world.
From Laser Orgy, emphasis mine:
There's something inherently sexual about GameCrush, yes -- but that's mostly due to the over-sexualizing of women in both American society and particularly in gamer culture (Bayonetta, anyone?). Girls who do anything that only guys are "supposed" to do can make men feel threatened -- or turned on. Or both at once. Women who are willing to exploit what is normally a societal unfairness shouldn't necessarily be condemned. "Real" female gamers generally don't like to be singled out as weird or different -- but if being different means getting a paycheck, well. That's not so bad, then!
So, GameCrush, I give you props for your stupid idea. I am dubious about how successful it'll be, though, when the percentage of female gamers climbs every day. GameCrush.Com seems like a step... in the wrong direction: singling out female gamers as a rare luxury that must be paid for. Girl gamers are not unicorns. Not anymore!
While I'm sure many video-game-loving girls are thrilled that they can now be paid to play online, the truth is they're not being paid to play video games - they're being paid to flirt. PlayDates aren't technically required to pretend that they're interested in the Players, but obviously, doing so is going to increase their ratings, requests and income. It is to their benefit to respond positively to men's advances by being "flirty" and/or "dirty" (the only two options available for a PlayDate's "gaming mood" indicator). They will be paid more to pretend like they are interested in the men who approach them for a set amount of time before moving on to the next customer. So, it's kind of like a strip club, except with video games and a lot less nudity.
As any woman who has ever played Call of Duty on a multiplayer network can attest, a lot of men really don't seem to want women playing video games. Women who use voice chat on live multiplayer games and admit to the heinous crime of being female (usually after first being mistaken for a prepubescent boy) are often subject to a barrage of gender-specific profanities, unsavory sexual propositions and unfair or just plain unfun gameplay. Women are forced to be silent if they just want to play without taking the chance of encountering game-ruining frat-boy sexism. And now men are paying women to play video games with them? What's wrong with the women who already play video games? Oh yeah - they actually want to play games, not repeatedly fend off your sexual advances.