News Flash: Sex Sells in Videogames Too

Last Updated Apr 1, 2010 12:22 PM EDT

The new site GameCrush pairs video gaming guys with beautiful, rentable women who will play Microsoft XBox 360 games with them. Guys know what they're going to get, because each woman is rated. There is also a dating service. GameCrush obviously serves a need, but the bigger issue is the impact the rest of the video gaming community.

From VentureBeat:

GameCrush evidently hit home with its offer to let gamers "be a player" and pay to play online games with attractive women.

The company's web site was down for the past couple of days with a note that said it was trying to find more server capacity because of overwhelming demand for its service. The site claimed that more than 10,000 people tried to sign on in the first five minutes the site was open.

The service is set up so that a 10-minute "play date" session with a sexy model costs $6.60. You can play on Xbox Live and chat via video cam if you want. The service got considerable coverage in the press last week, as it fulfilled the age-old stereotype that gamers are dudes who can't get dates.

Gaming now has the equivalent of a strip club -- as proven by Kotaku's Not Safe For Work gallery -- and that, in itself, isn't a bad thing. As I've mentioned before, sexual content is often connected to any maturing technology, if not a precursor to a new technology being accepted.

The problem is that women have already been ignored, harassed or marginalized enough in the video game community.

To do a brief quote from my book Porn & Pong: How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and Other Sexy Games Changed Our Culture:

A Nottingham Trent University study... found that 54 percent of male gamers and 68 percent of female gamers preferred to create game avatars, or online personas, of the opposite sex - women to avoid "unsolicited male approaches" and men because they found themselves being treated by other male players.

The study was done about three years ago, and one can assume that the media's attention on the increase female gamers -- via the Nintendo Wii and DS, and the iPhone/iPod Touch -- has pushed the numbers up. According to the Electronic Software Association:

Forty percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (34 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent).

Women still aren't represented equally on the creative side, however, which means there is less filtering of misogynistic video game content and behavior from the inside.

In short, female gamers have been fighting hard to penetrate the male-dominated industry as creators, have games created for them that aren't Barbie variants, and be respected by their male peers online. I fully support consumers enjoying adult entertainment, but I can't imagine GameCrush being a step forward in female gamers getting the respect they deserve.