Incredibly detailed technical guide to camgirling is a mix of advanced retail psychology and advice on performing emotional labor


Originally published at:


Seems mean to real whales. /s


It’s a term appropriated from the terminology of exploitative freemium games. A ‘whale’ is that one player with deep pockets and serious impulse control issues who spends way more than anyone else. Hunting for and retaining these whales was a huge deal for companies making this sort of game—I briefly consulted for gaming companies back in the day before I abandoned the job because I felt unclean doing it.

I guess it applies just as well here.


It’s a term borrowed from the casino industry.


I was, of course, joking, but I’m sure it’s a term with a long history, and I think I’ve heard it used in casino movies.


Ah. Sorry.

Though I did learn that the term is older than I thought so at least there’s that.


Re: whales it would be interesting to see real numbers. Is the 80/20 rule in effect? Or is it more extreme than that (the essay implies that is the case)


Scientology uses it too, for their big “donors”.


I found this movie gave some insight into the tipping/ranking aspects of the trade, as well as being a creepy thriller.


Minutely detailed, insightful, and deeply depressing.

Camming was positive and lucrative for the author and that’s great- more power to her, but:

Camgirls tend to drink a lot. Drinking is another common thing to tip for, and it makes camming easier. My friend once told me that she used to get on cam, black out, and wake up every morning with a thousand dollars.



I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some algorithmic manipulation of the performers as well. From my short stint doing chaturbate I remember the the thrill of pulling down a hundred dollars in a half hour, interspersed with hours of trying to maintain energy in a dull nearly empty chat room performing for people with no money to spend. It’s classic variable intermittent reinforcement.
It is such a wild world of desperation and psychic warfare; peak kink.


This sentence describes just about every 100% commission sales job on the planet.

Back in the 90’s, I made $15,000 in my first month as a mortgage broker followed by 3 months of almost nothing.

Sales is a tough gig no matter what you’re selling.


Well, yeah… interesting. And a bit creepy. And mostly fanservice.


This is relevant to my interests.


Not the expect use of “emotional labor” tag. Or maybe I don’t fully understand the term. I always thought it was applied to caregivers in a relationship not performers in a financial transaction.



See also “Smile, honey” that every woman everywhere has experienced. We’re expected to perform happiness for random male strangers.


@doctorow I’m surprised that you didn’t throw in something about the Bluetooth enabled sex toys that most of the cam models are using. Aside from the IoT issues there’s the pavlovian aspects of the devices tied to tips via chat apps.



Excellent point