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GameCrush: Why didn't I think of that?

By Brandon Mendelson, Special to CNN
GameCrush pairs up male and female gamers online and that's OK, says Brandon Mendelson.
GameCrush pairs up male and female gamers online and that's OK, says Brandon Mendelson.
  • With GameCrush, male gamers can pay women to play video games with them
  • The American gamer population is increasingly made up of women
  • GameCrush doesn't reinforce gamer stereotypes, columnist says

Editor's note: Brandon Mendelson is a comedian, blogger and gaming journalist who has somehow amassed 900,000 Twitter followers. He maintains a growing manure pile of old columns and routines at

(CNN) -- When it comes to businesses people want to open, I support everything. You know why? The planet is dying, your cell phone is killing you and Justin Bieber is popular. Humanity is circling the bowl.

So if people want to set up a business where horny male gamers can pay women money to play video games with them online, I say ... awesome!

Poet Thomas Tusser once said, "A fool and his money are soon parted." He's now spinning happily in a shallow grave somewhere in England. Not just because startups like this one prove him right, but because thanks to CNN, you all just learned who Thomas Tusser was.

If you're wondering what business I'm referring to, I speak of the already controversial The site is simple, genius, and still in private beta, although it's supposed to launch later this summer. It's also drawing a lot of criticism -- mostly, I suspect, coming from bitter people who are angry they didn't think of it first.

GameCrush works thusly: You get an account, find a PlayDate (their term), pick a game and then play together online via webcams. The PlayDate can be a guy or girl, and searching for a PlayDate is free. But you have to pay -- at least $39.60 an hour -- to play with your PlayDate, which is where things get sticky.

That's probably a poor choice of words. ...

Speaking of which, yes, it's possible to make friends, or more, with your PlayDate and later ask them to shout inappropriate things mid-coitus. Players can browse online profiles for a PlayDate and then choose whether they want a "flirty" or "dirty" gaming experience.

That brings up an important point: Although GameCrush is targeted toward men, women can also use the site to play male gamers. Not only that, but male gamers could probably clean up working as PlayDates because there may not be many of them when the service becomes publicly available.

The American gamer population is increasingly made up of women, so businesses like GameCrush may decide to flip the switch and eventually focus on serving women as their primary audience.

They should. I'm convinced GameCrush is missing out by focusing on guys and not taking the initiative to target girl gamers before their competitors do.

Now, some critics are upset over the whole pay-to-play model, particularly the idea of guys paying to play with girls. That's just stupid.

The people working as PlayDates, both men and women, are there because they want to be. No one is being kidnapped, dressed as Wonder Woman, and forced to play Halo at gunpoint (although that's just another Thursday night at the Mendelson residence). That's not how GameCrush rolls.

That brings us to the other criticism of GameCrush: That it's reinforcing gamer stereotypes. No, it isn't.

"The Big Bang Theory" on CBS does more harm to gamers and other geeks than GameCrush ever could, because it's an awful show that utilizes the worst geek stereotypes for laughs.

GameCrush will never reach that kind of broad mainstream audience. It's a niche business, not a mass-market one. GameCrush's customers are guys being guys. You might think they're foolish, but this kind of behavior is not limited to gamers.

If it's going to help you get a woman's attention, a guy is going to try it. Period.

The real issue behind these concerns is that some gamers have unwarranted self-esteem issues. As G4tv host Adam Sessler pointed out in a recent "Sessler's Soap Box" episode, gamers need validation from nongamers to legitimize the medium.

I'd like to help fix that. My name is Brandon Mendelson, and I would like to grant to you, gamers of America, validation from the most trusted name in news. You're awesome. The gaming industry is a mainstream industry that generates billions. And yes, if a movie qualifies as art, so do video games.


No? OK. Then remember this: I pee sitting down. Does this reflect poorly on CNN as a whole? No. What I do is my business, literally in this case, and should only reflect on me.

If you're curious about using GameCrush, I say go for it. If people enjoy using the service, let them. It doesn't serve as a reflection on anyone else. Not that it matters -- we're all doomed anyway.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Brandon Mendelson.