When GameCrush first became available to the public just about a year ago, I was kind of creeped out by the concept. Would people really pay money to play video games with other people? Isn’t that kind of what the free online multiplayer part of games are for? The original concept of GameCrush was to have “Players” pay to play games with “PlayDates” with the added use of a video camera. Players were free to chat with the PlayDates online but when you wanted to play games with them would have to pay $.60 per minute. Then the profits where split between the company and the PlayDates. Anyone, male or female over the age of 18, could sign up as a PlayDate and start making some money as there is no screening process. When the site first went public though, there were very few male PlayDates.
For those you don’t know how GameCrush works, Player and PlayDates can play in four different types of zones that will set the mood for the video chat and gaming; The Arcade, The Arena, The Academy and The Edge. The Arcade is for relaxed fun gaming. The Arena is for serious gamers who want to kick some butt. The Academy is for learning game tips and tricks while The Edge is kind of left open for your own definition; as GameCrush describes it as “not for the faint of heart. This could get interesting.” And even though they say they are not a sex site they also say that they don’t monitor any of the Player/PlayDate activities, so it seem like in The Edge anything goes.
PlayDates basically hold the power though, because they can block certain Players or just decline game invites. After a gaming session both the Player and the PlayDate would then rate each other; obviously if a PlayDate has a good rating they are going to get more business. Both Players and PlayDates also have their own profile pages that they can put pictures, videos, and blogs on.
Earlier this year, GameCrush has done some cleaning up and has done away with the Playdates and now everyone is a Players. They also no longer allow you to play for cash either. Now you buy credits ($6.00 for 360 credits) and you can turn these points in for items such as games, tee shirts, gaming systems, gift cards, and even an Alienware Laptop (the items you can get change from time to time). With the new system players buy point which they then spend on each other by giving other players gifts. Which then the receiver of said gifts turns them back into points, which they can redeem for real world items.
I think that with this new system they will weed out the people who were just doing it to get some extra money and really be into gaming. The original concept, I feel, created a very negative image for female gamers. Even though the PlayDates were never required to flirt or be dirty with the Players, I’m sure they would get better ratings when they were, which of course would lead to more money. However when a female gamer is flirty in online games they normally get labeled as a slut. I only say it was negative for female gamers because, even though GameCrush is for both male and female gamers, only the male customer base was ever really the focus. You might disagree with me on that one, but the only ads/videos I have ever see for GameCrush have exclusively featured women.
Almost every article that came out when the beta start had a headline along the lines of “pay to play with (hot) girls”, and few made mention of this being a service for all gamers. GameCrush did send some of their PlayDates to PAX West in 2010. However again they only sent women, and had them wearing short-short and tank tops and handing out trading cards. Yes PlayDates got their own trading cards. Even if you head over to their Facebook page all you will find in their photos section are women. If you didn’t know any better then you would truly thing that GameCrush is really only meant for guys.
With the removal of PlayDates and a cash return, I think GameCrush will become more like a dating site for people who like to play video games. I would at least think that now only people that are really into games and maybe interested in meeting someone that has the similar interests would use the site, because the majority of the items you can get by redeeming your points are game related. However if you really end up liking someone on the site you might want to save you money and just go out and buy them said items, because the conversion of credits to real world money is ridiculous. For example, for 40,000 credits you can get a PS3, but to get 40,000 you will need to buy $600 worth of credits.
Clearly there are a lot of people out there that don’t think GameCrush is creepy like I originally thought, since the site is still running. I definitely like the direction they have gone by removing PlayDates and the cash factor. But still over all I don’t fully agree with the concept. It’s encouraging people to flirt in order to get stuff. If you’re truly flirting because you like the person, then great – go with it; but when you are doing it just to get stuff it is wrong. I think GameCrush should just do away with the credits all together and just make it a site for people who like gaming to find someone who likes gaming equally. With their current set up they are still creating a negative impression for the female gamer.