TRACY KING GREAT SEXPECTATIONS
Are PC gamers really better lovers than console gamers? Tracy King puts on her best sceptical face
here’s an experiment in which you play two videos simultaneously, each showing one person talking. You ask your subject to listen to one of the people speaking, and they will automatically tune out the other video until the person in that video says one of several words that grab attention.
The study demonstrates that we can hear things even when we aren’t explicitly listening, or when we’re concentrating on other speech entirely. It’s solid science because you can prove the shift of attention using eyetracking. Not surprisingly, one of the words that grabs our subconscious attention is ‘sex’.
The old cliché that men think about sex every seven seconds isn’t true, of course. Men don’t think about sex as much as claimed, and women think about sex more than men realise. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Or at least, that’s the best guess from the research available. There’s a major problem with any study about ‘what people think’ because you can’t usually objectively verify the data.
The process involves self-reporting, and there’s no way of asking someone to report every time they think about a particular subject without the risk of biasing them. If you know you have to press a button every time you think about bears, for example, you’re likely to either think way more about bears, or avoid thinking about bears because you don’t want to press the button. When it comes to sex, you also involve a bunch of social pressures about gender roles and expectations, which makes it difficult to measure how frequently anyone thinks about a particular subject.
So when the media reports on a study that says PC gamers are ‘ better in bed’ than console gamers, we have to take it
Twith a rather large pinch of lube. One news site reported it as: ‘ PC players better in bed than PlayStation and Xbox rivals, study finds’ – wording that pits platform users as ‘ rivals,’ presumably for the sake of baiting clicks. But if you’re tempted to take the bait and think of yourself as the superior lover, you’ll have to look for evidence elsewhere.
For a start, the study was undertaken by discount website MyVoucherCodes. That alone means it probably isn’t subject to rigid methodology. The company claims to have polled 2,474 ‘partners of gamers’ in the UK (I don’t know how or where, as the data isn’t online and I didn’t get a reply to my request for it). Those people were asked which gaming platform their partner used and to rate the other half in bed. Apparently, 54 per cent of PC gamers were rated ‘good or above’ compared to 47 per cent of Xbox gamers.
The quoted statistics for PlayStation users are only for ‘excellent’ (3 per cent) and ‘very good’ (8 per cent). We don’t have the data for PlayStation users who are rated ‘good’, and I’d hazard a guess that this omission is because it takes the total to roughly the same as PC and Xbox gamers, and therefore ruins the story. In addition, we have no idea how many of the respondents’ partners use each platform.
It may be that 2,400 of them were Xbox users and only a handful were PC users, or vice versa. And of course, the most important element – as with all studies on ‘what people think’ – is that this study relies on (presumably anonymous) self- reporting. People make up stuff. The final statistic reported is that 11 per cent of respondents wanted their partners to spend time on sex and more on gaming. That is so unlikely I think I need to go and lie down.