In many parts of Asia, there is a job called "beer companion". It's exactly as its name implies. Young women working for a bar or a beer company dress in relatively skimpy outfits to drink with and to entertain bar guests. It's already hit the West, but this seems this type of service is now moving towards the video game world in China.
According to People's Daily, this gaming companion service is a recent thing in China. The service comes in two different types. The first type is a promotion and the other you for pay. In the promotion category, a game company offers a promotion where players can play games with pretty ladies. For pay service, gamers can pay for companions to play online games with them.
What this comes down to is that Chinese players are paying to play with companions online...and paying to play with companions in person.
This service seems to be geared towards male gamers. A quick search online for the phrase gaming companion (MM陪玩) brings up girls looking cute to solicit gamer clients. It should be noted that MM in China refers to "younger sister" (mei mei妹妹), which is also a term often associated with sex workers.
According to the People's Daily, this concept first came about when news broke out about a high-end World of Warcraft club that offered online companion services 24/7. Basically, a member of the WoW club would log on, request a companion and then have someone to play with until they log off.
After the revelation of the WoW club, enterprising "gamers" started advertising similar services of companion play. Some of them offered to in person gaming at a local Internet cafe, others were just online play. The prices vary greatly. It appears playing with a "ranked" gamer will cost about 8 dollars an hour whereas an "amateur" will go for about 3 dollars an hour.
One shop on Chinese e-commerce supersite Taobao.com that Kotaku questioned about services said that pretty much most of the services are "agencies". The shop that we contacted offered the services of a "Dear Sue". The person running the shop chatted with us online through the QQ account of a woman, but we have no way verify her gender. "She" was offering services in games such as Defense of the Ancients, League of Legends, and Counter Strike.
"We have lots of different girls of different skills that can play with you," said 'Sue', despite the fact that her site only advertised her services. "We offer online play only, 1 vs. 1."
This agent also said that "she" couldn't guarantee that we would win our match. On top of that "she" also said that they used the YY TeamChat program to converse.
While there is nothing too sinister about the concept of companion play, searches into the subject leads to some pretty sketchy stuff. Halfway through a search on Taobao.com, the results return with some pretty pornographic material. It's unclear what this entails about the whole situation.
So far, we haven't been able to contact a shop offering in person companion play.
[网上新服务！租美女陪打DotA只需20元] [People's Daily]
[Taobao search for MM陪玩] [Taobao.com]
Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.