TRACY KING GREAT SEX­PEC­TA­TIONS

Are PC gamers really bet­ter lovers than con­sole gamers? Tracy King puts on her best scep­ti­cal face

Custom PC - - OPINION - / SCEP­TI­CAL ANAL­Y­SIS

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.

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