Chloe Tran, a sophomore major in sociology, was on her way to USC Village when a man in a red jumpsuit approached her with a recruiting card for the “Squid Dating Game,” a dating game founded by Monji Batmunkh to help make real connections. between students through SoCal.
This social experiment began Wednesday evening at 9 p.m. The students had an hour to connect with the others in the hopes of eventually making a game. The students with the most matches won the cash prize.
Tran – along with five other students – each made $ 425 after going blind through multiple sets of audio dates.
“I was a little hesitant,” said Tran, who is in a committed relationship, “but my boyfriend said ‘go get that bag, baby. “” Tran won with 16 games.
Tran described the experience as “refreshing” and liked the idea of being able to meet people through their voices rather than their faces, which is exactly what creator Batmunkh hoped for.
Batmunkh is a USC alumnus who entered the startup world in 2019. He launched the app called “Matter” because he wanted dating apps to focus only on outward appearances. The creator said the app had nothing to do with the “Squid Game” show, it was just a marketing tactic that worked.
Tristan Slagle, winner of the dating game, electrical engineering graduate, said: “My friend sent me the link, and I thought ‘Squid Game, cool’ and I just signed up.”
Slagle, like all the other winners, had no idea he would win the grand prize. He said he’s active on several dating apps and believes this game goes beyond the typical swiping left or right. He was also the winner with 16 games.
“Normal dating apps don’t make people feel good,” Batmunkh said comparing his app to popular ones, “People crave something more meaningful.”
There were a total of 900 people on the app, 821 of them were USC students and the rest were UCLA.
For each player who joined the game, $ 5 was added to the jackpot. Half of the total amount was donated to Colleges Against Cancer. The rest was divided among the five winners.
Another big winner was Briana Connors, a freshman majoring in sociology. Connors had no intention of winning and entered because she heard the money would be donated to ACE.
“It was cool to have the most random [conversations], I would definitely do it again, just to talk to people, ”Connors said. She was another winner with 15 games.
Batmunkh also mentioned that students use it as a way to take breaks from schoolwork.
The winners indicated that many of the conversations focused on school-related topics. “Everyone has their routine with their friends and it’s cool that people hook up with other bands,” Tran said.
Ana Gutierrez Covarrubias, a second year student majoring in communication and cognitive science, said she only signed up for the game because there was money at stake.
“I have never joined a dating app, so I was hesitant,” Covarrubias said.
Covarrubias didn’t think she would do it again but loved that every conversation was different, making the dating game a great experience for her. She also won with 15 games.
Batmunkh plans to continue the Squid Dating game at all SoCal colleges. The next online college is Cal State Fullerton.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Monji Batmunkh’s name. Annenberg Media apologizes for this error.