You know, once upon a time in a webcomic I’ve since fallen out of reading, a crafty character put her entrepreneurial skills to use by starting a geek-phone-sex company, staffed by women who could “talk geek” with gamer and geek men, and also have phone sex with them. And we laughed, and it was funny, and all was well. Until now, when someone has decided to put it into practice in the real world.
Enter GameCrush.com, a site where (male, by the language of the site) gamers can sign up to play with female “PlayDates” for a preset list of either casual PC browser games (like checkers, Battleship, or Connect Four), which come with live video chat, or Xbox 360 games (they currently list Gears of War 2, Call of Duty: Modern
Warfare 2, GTA IV, and Halo 3), which come with voice chat. You can request that your PlayDate be “Flirty”, “Dirty”, or both. You set a time, pay $8 for each 6-10 minutes of gaming time depending on the game type, and when you’re done, you rate your escort date on her gaming skill, flirtiness, dirtiness, and hotness, along with an overall score.
I’m sorry, what? Just a quick scan nets me evidence of FAIL on heterosexism, women-as-commodities, and serious reinforcement of gamer stereotypes for both male and female gamers. GameCrush assumes that the bulk of gamers are male and heterosexual, and that those male gamers are nerdy shut-ins who tremble at the sight of a real live woman and who have never developed the social skills to interact with women in person, so they need to purchase time with them in the only social arena they are comfortable. It also assumes that female gamers are such rarely-sighted unicorns that the assumedly-dorky male gamers will be willing to pay for the unique, previously-unknown pleasure of playing video games with a woman. Of course, it’s more than just being able to play a video game with a female opponent. These women are not only women you can game with, but women who will flirt with you, and if you pay more, they’ll even talk dirty, something you can’t require of the women you might normally be playing against.
The women-as-commodities fail comes into play for me with the rating system. I was already squicked to begin with, but when I found a PlayDate’s profile and read through it and saw the rating, I started making the inarticulate noises that make my fiance cautiously ask me what the conservatives have done now. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I just love receiving a numerical rating on my ability to conform to a man’s standards hotness and how well I flirt and talk dirty. That totally makes me feel like a whole and valued person, not just a body and a couple socially-approved subroutines for male enjoyment. </snark>
In case there was any doubt about the tone of the site, I’ll leave you with this blurb from PlayDate queenofdebt’s profile:
I am very fun and a gracious loser, and I will be sure that you enjoy talking and playing with me while you enjoy the view!