Douchebag Decree: GameCrush

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.

Fortunately, many gaming bloggers seem to share a general consensus that the whole GameCrush enterprise is a new low in, uh, online adult social gaming networks.

Comments

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I couldn't agree more...

Firstly : Word.

Another thing, um are there any guidelines to limit how far can the this douchebaggery go? Can the "player" proposition the woman (assuming all playdates are women) into doing she doesn't want to do - she'll obviously *have* to flirt to be popular - can the "player" say shit like "show me some more skin version of virtual gaming if you want to get some extra cash"? and get away with it?

If that made any sense.

Limitations

Players and PlayDates are allowed to take their interaction in any direction they want, and that's what the "flirty"/"dirty" mood indicator is supposed to imply: whether a PlayDate just wants friendly fun gaming or something more explicitly sexual.

PlayDates aren't forced to do anything they don't want to do, but refusing Player's requests could mean getting a negative review and thus less business. So again, they don't HAVE to be explicitly sexual, but they'll probably make more money if they are. Players also tip PlayDates, so one could conceivably coax a Date into showing some skin for a bigger tip.

Considering that half of the

Considering that half of the players online are either 12 year old boys, or adult men with the IQ and maturity of the afforementioned adolescents; I find it a silly point to expand upon the stupidity that can be found in this service. No one is being forced to be a part of this process, just like stripping, and frankly as a serious female gamer, those like me wouldn't bother with this in the first place!

I should say first that I am

I should say first that I am a stripper, not a gamer, and as such this (men paying women to interact with them) looks like just another extension of the sex industry to me, so I don't really see what the big deal is. Obviously if you want to pay 6$= an hour and your personal/sexual preferences aren't represented on GameCrush that's irritating, but if you seriously just want to play games, this probably wouldn't be your first (or second or tenth) choice anyway. I don't know, to me this looks like an easy way to earn some extra money. It's stupid, but they're fair game.

Right on Jenny

I used to work at Hooters and do you think guys would come in just for the wings?? Ha! And don't think I worked there just because they gave us those great orange short shorts to wear. But really it was a fun place to work and the guys who ate there always tipped really well. I know everyone is pissing about the concept because it is targeting gamers, but really folks, is it THAT big of a deal? Girls are attractive and fun to talk to. You already 'pay' for the privilege of our company every time you take us out on a date, pay for a movie, buy us a drink, or like Jenny or me at Hooters pay a little extra to make you smile.

Oh dear, this won't end well..

So, can I pay you to just stand there while I shoot you in the face for the entire hour?

Hey! It's not misogynist, I'm racking up achievements!

Yeah, that's just one example of where this concept goes off the rails...

What, shooting my avatar for

What, shooting my avatar for free would be acceptable and feminist?

Yes, for 6-8$ for ten minutes you can totally shoot my avatar all you want. But I can (and probably would) shoot back.

I'm totally signing up for this as soon as the site's back up, and if you still care in a few weeks, I'll tell you how many men paid to shoot me and how many just wanted to pay a girl to play a game and flirt with them.

As a serious female gamer....

...and as a Feminist, I joined. Yup thats right I signed up, put up pictures and yes, I was disappointed when the site went down on its launch. I love to play video games, I've worked in a video game store for years and started playing when I was very young, the idea of getting paid for it is pretty awesome.

And big deal, so I smile a little more, giggle and oh..I dont know, have fun. God forbid money and flirting gets involved and all of a sudden its a brothel.

Besides that, this whole article (and a couple of the comments) are either blanket statements or assumptions. The site hasn't even been really up and running, furthermore to just assume that all these women are going to be throwing off their shirts and talking dirty and that men are sad creatures who just want to show off their cock to an attractive female is both arrogant and stupid.

Most men wont want to play with some chick who says hes hot but sucks at whatever game they are playing (which by the way most of the games are on the site are common games like checkers and connect 4. Right now the x-box live pool is very limited) And as far as the 360 goes, Its not about being a girl or not, you're still going to get called a faggot by a 12 year old. Which, despite what one of the comments said, isnt the only demographic on Xbox Live.

So, before this gets tl;dr, if this is what we are going to be bitching about, them lemme tell ya we really gotta re-think whats really important for the feminist movement. Cause this aint it.

Is this the most brilliant thing to happen to gaming/the internet? No
Is it the step in the right direction? Probably not
But for god sake, before "all women who do this have no self-respect" at least wait for it to be up and running before its condemned with all those who partake.

P.S- Anyone who took Bayonetta seriously is ridiculous, because it was an awesome game that was supposed to be over sexualized and super violent. Social commentary anyone?

How often do you play X-Box

How often do you play X-Box Live? Because I play MW2 every. single. day. (well, I lied, I play battlefield more often now) and I can tell you, playing as a girl is NOT fun. I never feel like I can talk on the mic through Live like most of my guy friends can, and I wish I could. If I do, I get hit on, called a bitch, told to make them sandwhiches (true story), told to get the F off, told I don't belong there, or else on the other side of the spectrum, get annoyed by the constant flirting and sexual comments by guys who put me on this grand pedestal because OMG. I'm a girl playing Call of Duty. Can't tell you how many messages I've gotten and voice messages saying "hey cutie, hey sexy, hey hottie, you're a babe, i want you blah blah blah" even though they don't even know what I look like. Sure, there is lots of name calling by 12 year old boys regardless of sex, but unfortunately, their "assumption" as you call it of demographics and the way women are treated on X-Box Live is spot on. Following is SERIOUSLY a situation that happened with me over Live and the reason I never use my mic anymore. It's not worth it.

Boy: hey, you that just talked, you sound like a faggot. or a ten year old boy.
Me: uh, nah, i'm actually a girl.
(silence...)
Other male (amazed): wow, there's actually a girl playing COD?
Boy: EW GIRL! Get out of here GIRL you don't belong here!
Another male player proceeded to move his character in front of mine and move back and forth against my character saying "such my cock, bitch!"

Needless to say, I quit that game. And I never use the mic. EVER.

Granted, there are some cool dudes out there that think it's awesome that girls are playing and think they are just as good and a lot of times better than they are (I'm better than most my guy friends and they are completely ok with it and think it's awesome). However, I feel like they are the minority.

Oh well, I absolutely love playing and also playing with my boyfriend on Live and we usually do private chat so others can't heckle me.

I absolutely play quite a

I absolutely play quite a bit, less now since I've been in school, I prefer Gears myself but the point is. Dont take it personally, If you're black you're the n-word, if you're Hispanic you're a spic if you're white you're faggot (well everyone is according to Live) Either way I've sat and listened to the conversations, as well as been in similar situations as you and have come to the conclusion that Live is about who can be the biggest Troll and any slight difference is fair game.

You cant say you're being singled out for being a chick cause you're not, you are being teased and instulted because you logged onto X-box Live and thats what happens all day no matter who or what you are.

As far as the hitting on goes, please, most men are pigs and no matter venue it is, and right now yes we are the minority but that gap is getting smaller and that excuse is growing old. If you log on be prepared to play with assholes and feel free to tell them to suck -your- (probably much larger) cock, if you dont want to do that play privately thats fine too.

There has to be a market for this

Voice distortion built into mikes to make you sound male. Or female. Or sucking on helium. Or all three...

I am a girl who wants to

I am a girl who wants to play games with other girls. Can I be a player then? Or is this purely, strictly for hetero men?
On the other hand I don't want to pay, but all the same. What the hell? I'd be a player sooner than a playmate.
ugh, I hate both those terms in that context...

As a female gamer...

...this website is genius. I am a PlayDate for Gamecrush, and I think it's awesome. I get paid to do something I already do: play video games. Xbox Live games are simply with voice. And enduring all the "OMG, are you hot? do you have a cam? what's your myspace?" normally on Xbox Live, now I can get paid for listening to the same thing. Sure, instead of telling guys to shut up or muting them, I giggle and entertain them because well now, they're paying customers. The common games with webcam are actually even more simple. I've yet to have any Player ask me to take off more clothes, or to do anything additional for more compensation or a better tip. It's really not the horrible attribute you're making it out to be. This is the same thing as a man going to a bar and buying a pretty girl a drink. Or tipping his waitress a little extra because she was really pretty and extra nice.

We're not self-loathing, pathetic women. An opportunity to make money doing something you actually enjoy is a rarity. And, if you have to flirt or giggle to make a little extra, then so be it. Again, in the real world, men do the same thing for a woman's company.

I know it's been a while

I know it's been a while since this went up, but I wanted to respond to emphasize that the purpose of this post is not to shame women who sign up to be PlayDates or do anything else that involves using their gender/bodies/sexuality for money. I'm not equating GameCrush with prostitution, and seriously, nowhere in this post do I say or even imply that women who work as PlayDates, Hooters waitresses, strippers, prostitutes or any other profession that involves this exchange are self-loathing, pathetic or have no self-respect. I respect anyone's decision to take on these professions and I don't think they are inherently anti-feminist.

In the same vein, I don't think GameCrush is inherently anti-feminist because it involves this exchange of sexuality and money - I think it's douchey because it contributes to the really strong gender binary that already exists in gaming culture and the hypersexualization of female gamers. There aren't a whole lot of available archetypes for women in mainstream video games: there's "unattractive, unacceptable loser" and "super-attractive, sexually willing lady". GameCrush reinforces these stereotypes by promoting the latter, which makes every female gamer who doesn't fall into that category invisible.

I also think that GameCrush is marketed in a misleading way - I think that to actually qualify as a "social network", every account type should have the same kind of autonomy. Like I said in the post, PlayDate accounts (again, overwhelmingly women) are really passive. I think it would be a better website and social network if Players (overwhelmingly men) weren't the only ones allowed to do the networking.

Decision Made

I found out my boyfriend signed up for a Gamecrush account and was temporarily jealous or discordant or something. Now I just think he's a nerdy weirdo. Let him have his fun if they ever offer play on a game we actually own. :P

I'm equally offended by this

I'm equally offended by this service as it maintains the idea that when all things are held equal (similar values/interests/goals etc) a man's time isn't as valuable as a woman's. Likely not the comment or response you're looking for but it is a pervasive trend in society...