GameCrush: Pay to play--with girls

The new social-networking site acts as a way to let nerdy boys pay cute girls for their attention. What could possibly go wrong here?

Let's make sure we've got the concept behind GameCrush right. The Web site pays girls to play video games and live-chat with gamers (presumably somewhat lonely gamer boys), who pay for the privilege. This isn't a joke. This is GameCrush's business model.

GameCrush is set to launch at 6 p.m. PDT Tuesday, and its premise, in theory, is simple. It's the gaming equivalent of buying a girl a drink to chat her up, the developers say.

If I'm ever this desperate, shoot me. GameCrush screenshot by Matt Hickey/CNET

A Player (yes, they're called "Players") buys points--500 cost $8.25--and uses them to buy "game time" with a PlayDate (yes, they're called PlayDates). Xbox titles including Modern Warfare 2, Gears of War 2, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Halo 3 cost 400 points and last up to 10 minutes. PC-based casual games like Checkers, Battle Ship, Billiards Pool, Four Across, and Tic Tac Toe cost a little less.

Players browse through PlayDate profiles, and once they find one they're interested in they can send a gaming invite. Right now the system works with the Xbox 360 and the site's own games, but the developers say they're hoping to have PS3 and Wii integration soon.

If the PlayDate accepts the invitation, she can set her mood to "Flirty" or "Dirty" and it's game on (though any real gaming girl would set her profile to "Hurty" and kick your ass). The pair can chat, play, or both for the amount of time purchased. When their time is up, the Player is invited to send the remaining 100 points to his PlayDate as a tip. The PlayDates can then trade their points for real-world cash.

And that's what feels rather creepy. "I'd feel weird getting paid," Seattle-area casual gamer Alicia Amiri told me. "It makes it phone-sex-ey, but not really sexy. What about girls playing just because they want to?" We couldn't get a hold of anyone at the company before launch, so we're not yet sure if Alicia's idea is a GameCrush option.

After a gaming session, a Player can rate his PlayDate on a number of criteria, one of which is flirtiness, so future Players will supposedly know what they're getting. I think I've seen a similar service advertised on Craigslist for different kinds of play dates.

Still, the idea could work if gaming girls--I'm sorry, PlayDates--can get around the slightly creepy idea of selling themselves for the attention of boys. Like Alicia, I'm a little skeeved out by the whole thing. Maybe I'll just try to get lucky on Chatroulette instead.

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.

     

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