I’m here to tell you about gamecrush.com. Imagine logging into a website and finding a photo of a pretty girl. You chat with her for a bit, and then decide that you’d like to play a video game with her. She accepts your offer to play, there is an exchange of money, then off you both go to engage in some virtual gaming entertainment. Sounds a bit strange, eh? I thought so, too.
While at PAX, Garrett Fuller and I sat down with Eric Strasser (CEO of GameCrush), and GameCrush "Play Dates" Amber Cyr (ambibambi23), and Gina Tran (SuperVillain). Together they explained to us the “ins and outs” of this new website, and helped clear up some skeptical notions we had … and that some you are most likely already forming too.
When I first heard about gamecrush.com I really had a mixed opinion. On one hand, I thought what kind of girl signs up for a site like this? On the other hand, I wondered how much money could be made from guys paying girls to play games with them? I was confused. Is this like a Frag Dolls type thing, or a Suicide Girls type thing? Is there competition involved, or is it just a glorified gaming-based chat room? I needed to know more.
The first thing we asked of them was to explain what the site was all about. The “Play Dates” (people who sign up to be played “with”) described it as a social networking site for gamers, with guys and girls to play games with. Eric Strausser used the example of going to a bar where you might offer to buy someone a drink. But here, you log in, find a Play Date and buy some play time with them (at 60 cents a minute). Game choices include Halo, Modern Warfare, plus lots of other more casual games.
This is how it works. The site is structured around making introductions. You can sign up as a player or as a Play Date. If you log in as a player, you look around for Play Dates. When you find one you like, you chat -- no camera. You can choose to play a game with them by sending a request. At that time, the Play Date chooses to accept or decline your request. If the Play Date accepts the game request, you can then connect via camera or microphone and play your game selection together. This is also when the $.60 per minute kicks in.
If you sign up as a Play Date, you can advertise on your own dedicated page to get players to notice you, and hopefully get interested gamers to play with you (so you can start making money). Amber and Gina talked about how some girls made videos to get people to their pages; others posted photos or got more creative. They also noted that it’s best to be really active on the site if you want a lot of popularity, but that you can also keep it more casual if you prefer. They said some people go there just to chat and not play games at all.
Play Dates have full control over the games they play. If a player becomes inappropriate at any time, the Play Date can stop the game and even choose to block the player as well. If a player is blocked a certain number of times, he/she will be suspended from the site. This is a great advantage for the Play Date and seemed to make the girls feel very comfortable about logging in and participating.
I expected the girls to have funny stories about their experience during private beta. Instead, when asked, Amber said, “I’ve only seen one penis”. She immediately blocked him/it. We giggled about it and they assured me that it was nothing like Chat Roulette.
Players can also favorite the Play Dates they like, which lets the Play Dates know who wants to play with them. Private messages can be sent if a Play Date has been missed for a while and is wanted back in game.
This is not a “job” job, so there are no fixed times that Play Dates have to be on. If you sign up to be a Play Date, then you choose when and for how long you are logged in. It sounds like it’s a bit of a popularity contest, so the more you frequent and get “favorited”, the more money you are likely to make. The two girls we talked to had schedules posted on their profiles letting their players know when they would be available, but this is not required.
Guys, there are also girls coming in looking for guy Play Dates. This is not just a site to go find pretty girls to play with. Gamecrush.com has had complaints from their own customer-support team saying that there are not enough guy Play Dates. Guys, are you hearing this? It is open to everyone ... with some restrictions.
Anyone 18 or older can become a Play Date. It’s as easy as signing up for any other site. Currently they have 6000 Play Dates and 3000 players from around the world in closed beta. With the site being international, players and Play Dates wouldn’t have to worry about “prime/peak” hours because there is always someone playing somewhere.
When the public site launches, it will have four zones: the Arcade, the Arena, the Academy, and the Edge. The Arcade is more casual, the Arena is for first-person shooters, The Academy will have tutors to help players learn to play certain games, and The Edge is for the hard-core players.
The site also wants to incorporate playing for charity. Shortly after launch, they will have it set up so that you can play for just about any cause that you want, and the money will go directly to that cause.
Right now, you are a bit limited with the games that can be played. However, Gamecrush is planning to include many more games, including MMORPGs, to their repertoire.
One thing that wasn’t discussed was how much the Play Dates made. I’m sure that this is partly because the site is still in closed beta and they are not finished hammering out all the details. But I did take a look at gamecrush.com and it advertises being able to make up to $30 an hour, and they take care of all the billing.
I’m still not sure how I really feel about this site. On one hand, it sounds like a great place to make friends and possibly make some money. On the other hand, it sounds like could log in and see thing I don’t want to see. I’m going to save my final assessment of this site for later. I have just signed up to be a Play Date and hope to get involved soon. Then I can write about it first hand.
They are still in private beta and you can sign up as a Play Date or a player at gamecrush.com.