Q&A with GameCrush PlayDates (and co-founder Eric Strasser)

We grill GameCrush's co-founder about the controversial gaming service

As a gamer girl, do you have more male friends than female friends in real life because you find you can relate more to guys?

JB: Oh definitely. Most of my friends are guys and most of my female friends give me blank stares when I talk about video games. I give them blank stares when they talk about shopping and fashion and celebrities.

So I definitely have more male friends.

Glad to hear you’re having such a good experience with GameCrush.

JB: It’s done a lot for my confidence too. I have to say, I was really shy when I first signed up and now... I’m still shy [laughs].

Do you think GameCrush is exploitative or sexist?

JB: No, I really don’t. We are more of a rarity, female gamers, but we are becoming less so. I wouldn’t really say it’s too much of a sexist thing for it to be a profitable endeavour.

When you tell people you are a GameCrush PlayDate, what kind of response do you usually get?

JB: Usually people respond with complete jealousy. "You get paid to play video games?"

I’m like, "Yes I do, yes I do."

SV: When we were at E3, we actually started a lot of excitement when we were walking around. We had a number of people coming up to us and going, "Oh my god! You guys are from GameCrush!"

They were really excited to see us.

JB, you said before some of the players you meet you’d be happy to be friends with in real life. Have you actually met up with some of them? Or is that against the rules? Are there any rules?

JB: I don’t know specifically if that is against the rules but I probably wouldn’t do it just because of privacy concerns. But no, I haven’t met with anybody.

How to meet a girl gamer

Are there any restrictions of what you can or cannot do as a PlayDate?

Eric: Just wanted to note, terms and conditions are going to be changing with the new site.

We have a policy where we do not recommend PlayDates provide their personal information. Today, there are no restrictions like that with the private beta; we recommend they don’t.

The site is really intended to be an online experience and not a dating site and I think that is an important characteristic of the site, you can have an online interaction very similar to what you would have if you go to a bar.

It’s more about the game and interaction that you have.

And the GameCrush interactions are through Xbox Live or PC. But doesn’t this conflict with Xbox Live’s terms and conditions where it says you can’t use the service for commercial purposes?

Eric: First of all, our relationships with the PlayDates are not on Xbox Live. We have no relationship with Xbox Live and we don’t have any type of formal agreement with them.

So it is important to be aware of the fact that once you are in a relationship with GameCrush as a PlayDate through the terms and condition that we have and we have an agreement with them that does not extend to Xbox.

In the future GameCrush will be on any kind of service, so it won't just be on Xbox and won't just be an Xbox experience.

When we started the private beta, we wanted to keep it limited so we knew that we’d be able to control the variables. But in the future, you will be able to play a multiplayer game on any platform through GameCrush.

Same as if you're on Match.com, a leading US dating site. But instead of going to a restaurant or movie, you’re going to play a game. Instead of buying dinner, you’re buying a game.

So PlayDates get the benefit of going on these dates — that’s typical in the real world — but instead of it being in a restaurant or bar or at a movie theatre, you’re playing games online.

How to meet a girl gamer

Is GameCrush restricted to the US or is somebody from, say, Romania eligible to join as well?

SV: We have International PlayDates.

JB: We have Australian PlayDates

SV: You should be our next PlayDate!

Maybe… I’ll see how this job goes.

Eric: It’s interesting because Australia actually has been one of our hotspots.

Really? That’s really interesting to hear. (Does this mean we have a lot of desperate gamer dudes around?)

SV: You guys have hot accents.

Eric: If you look at the profile, you’ll see there is a lot of PlayDates from Australia.

This experience is not about where you live. It’s about your interest in gaming and that’s the commonality.

And the fact we’re breaking down that barrier, you really can live anywhere and have virtual dates and play these games is the focus of the site.

How does GameCrush protect PlayDates from, lets say, getting verbally abused or what not?

SV: I can end a session any time I want. I can also flag a person. If someone is flagged enough, they would be banned. If I flagged him myself they can't contact me ever again.

I am never obligated to do anything.

Eric: Before the game starts they can see respectful rating of the player.

So what are some of the changes coming up with the upcoming GameCrush public beta?

Eric: There is so much. I can’t go into details just yet. I just want to say it is really going to be cutting edge and we’re pretty excited about it.

We’ve learnt a lot; we’ve had several rounds of online feedback. We’ve also done a survey online where we asked all the players and PlayDates about their experiences and we’ve taken all this knowledge and created a new site that really is going to be responsive to what they are asking for.

But what is the biggest and most exciting change?

Eric: I think its just we are going to focus on the interaction online of real gamers playing real gamers and that we’re going to open it up so its not going to be just on Xbox and PCs.

How to meet a girl gamer

If you'd like to check out the GameCrush service for yourself, you can visit the VIP Public Beta site, which is currently offering 40% off game credits. GameCrush only accepts a limited number of applicants per day, so if you have trouble joining, try again later.

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Spandas Lui

GamePro Australia
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