GameCrush.Com launches today, and the service has already been hailed (by 600+ commenters on that article) as one of the dumbest things that the internet has wrought. Gamer girls proven to be cute via home-brewed glamour shots will play video-games with you online ... for a fee. Oh, and by the way, some of them might have boyfriends and most of them won't be seeing clients as potential love interests -- so stop those Pretty Woman fantasies before they start.
I'm as mystified by this service as I am by similar services offered by girls (or guys -- but usually girls) who sit around talking to people on their webcams. I knew a girl who did this while between jobs; basically, she chilled out in her lingerie for hours at a stretch and got paid for it. No nudity, relatively benign chats, and voila! Paycheck.
For girls who already play video-games, working at GameCrush means do what you already like, except with a guy who's willing to pay you for it. If he gets too rowdy, you can block him and get a new client with ease. Pretty painless gig -- so what's the big deal?
I'm not about to judge the women who do this, despite the cries of "prostitution!" from every corner; actual sex work is much more dangerous, stressful, and difficult than these seemingly cushy GameCrush jobs, so let's be careful with that comparison. 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. Used to be that a third of gamers were women, but a stat in this month's GameInformer said 43% of gamers are women. So, male gamers, if you want to pay extra to play with a girl, you should probably realize that you've already been doing so for a long time now. And you didn't even know it! HAWT.
Women aren't as confident as men about admitting how many hours they play (this study says women lie about the number of hours they spend gaming, afraid people will judge them for being too nerdy). Also, I've heard many a horror story about girls getting unwanted attention whenever using the mic in chat during an online game -- or just by having a feminine-sounding gamer tag. GameCrush.Com seems like a step even further in the wrong direction: singling out female gamers as a rare luxury that must be paid for. Girl gamers are not unicorns. Not anymore!
Which is worse: women who are too embarrassed to admit that they game (and stay silent in chat so no one will know their gender) ... or women who game as sexual commodities? Both seem pretty stupid in my opinion.
As for the gamer guys who think this is actually a good idea, here's some advice from this happily attached girl gamer. If you want to meet people who share your interests, go with a geek-oriented dating website. There are many. Not to mention the upcoming onslaught of conventions (PAX, Anime Boston, Boston Comic Con), which are perfect for meeting fellow geeks. No offense to GameCrush, but I'd much rather see real relationships emerge for geeks -- not "pretend" relationships with girls who only respect you as far as your money will allow.
We pay enough for XBox Live as it is. Who wants to pay for friends to play with, too?
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