The Date-a-Gamer website GameCrush is supposed to be about friendly gaming with sexy singles. However, its new companion site Stripgamer doesn't bother even trying for innocence.
Stripgamer is a new service created by Whamspot, the same people who created and own the GameCrush site. We've written about GameCrush before, but here's a brief recap: you sign up to chat with other people while playing free flash games such as Battleship and Checkers. Usually there is a web cam involved. Money is exchanged only if you want to choose your PlayDate. Anyone still sceptical about what really goes on on the unmonitored video feeds need only consider any experience on ChatRoulette, and then factor in that in this case, there's money being exchanged.
According to Whamspot co-founder Eric Strasser told the website Gaming Angels that one purpose of Stripgamer is to give those using GameCrush a place to have an adult experience. That kind of thing isn't only allowed, but encouraged. In order to clean up one dirty site, they're creating another, more blatantly dirty site.
My biggest problem here is that neither website will just come out and admit what it is. The ads for GameCrush promise the potential to "date a gamer girl" when really, these girls are getting paid to log on, and are only going to make money for the time the player spends on the other side of that camera. Nine times out of 10, the way to keep that player there is as simple as BOOBS OR GTFO. If you want down and dirty, you might find it on GameCrush, but now you're guaranteed a risque time at Stripgamer.
Stripgamer suffers from an even worse identity crisis. The site is ready to use words like 'action' in the description, and a naked sillhouette of a woman in their logo, but isn't willing to explicitly state what they are — a purveyor of soft-core gamer porn where the ladies are getting paid a pittance to perpetuate sexist expectations, all while keeping up a game of Connect Four in the sidebar. Sure, men can sign up as PlayDates, or Hotties — Stripgamer's equivalent — too, but where's my sexy image of a man in his boxers, flexing his six-pack while holding an Xbox controller? Not on Stripgamer, I can tell you that much.
Stripgamer includes options to play in either 'flirty' or 'dirty' mode, which Strasser says is something users were interested in seeing: "[This]was actually in response to this feedback that users will want different types of games and that we couldn't just ignore it. Just look at what became of Second Life!"
Tiffany Nevin, a reporter for Gaming Angels and friend of Kotaku's, spent some time undercover as a PlayDate on GameCrush, and came out of the experience with unsurprising results. She does give GameCrush some credit, for allowing PlayDates to have full control over their experience. They can log out of a session any time they want, are not required to do anything even if a customer has paid (they are not charged for time they don't use), and can block someone for making them uncomfortable or unhappy. For a site like GameCrush, where the goings-on are supposed to be friendly, that may be well and good, but what expectations will be placed on the Hotties at Stripgamer?
There are non-sleazy date sites for gamers, geeks and every variation thereof. Better yet, some of them are completely free, no matter what; some of which I have had rather pleasant expereinces with. While using a geeky dating site about two years ago, I made plenty of friends — and I stress the word friends — over long chats about literature, Flash Gordon, and my dearly departed Sega Genesis. Granted, most of them were men, but none made me feel uncomfortable. It's too bad that Whamspot feels the need to take the already-kind-of-sleazy, and make it sleazier. I thought we, as nerds, were supposed to be above all that.
Girl gamers have been touted as nothing more than legend ever since the Atari age, and we're still considered rare even in the most niche-based corners of the internet. We're not, by the way. We're everywhere. So why, the tiny feminist in me is asking, why are we still being fetishized? Booth babes, sexy video game talk show hosts, and now...strippers? Why is this being taken to such a strange extreme that normalizes super-sexualised gamer girls?
I really think we're better than this, or at the very least, we should be.