What Online Porn And Video Games Tell Us About Male Behavior

In Martin Amis’ latest novel, Lionel Asbo, the titular character wonders aloud why any man would want to have a relationship with a woman when so much pornography is available online. Even real-life siren Raquel Welch recently expressed sympathy for men and their growing online porn habits: “We’ve gotten to a point in our culture where (men are) all sex addicts, sitting in front of their computers, completely annihilated. Poor babies, they can’t control themselves.”

Meanwhile, in the less salacious world of video games, publishers have discovered new ways to hook players into multiple layers of immediate, addictive gratification. By making rewards easier to obtain and levels quicker to unlock, players become swiftly addicted a variety of micro-incentives in gameplay. 

Don’t believe it? Just play Angry Birds once. 

Are online porn and video games threatening vices that turn young men, who consume them disproportionately, into foaming-at-the-mouth addicts? Not exactly. But it does bring up a few key truths about human behavior. 

Hidden in our gray matter may be a few clues to explain hard-wired desires for more smut and more Call of Duty. Neuroscientists have recently identified two brain areas – the prefrontal cortex and the ventral striatum – that control the impulse for instant gratification. These are the same areas that cause addiction – areas that lead alcoholics and compulsive gamblers to return again and again to the source of the addiction to renew that buzz. 

It works the same with online porn and video games. Once you get in, a need is created to return, to unlock new levels or discover something totally new, and our lizard brains begin to crave it more and more. And, thanks to their ubiquity and ease of access, this free and legal buzz is always there for the taking.

Even the ubiquitous “Like” button is a pivot point in our desire for instant gratification. Who hasn’t posted a status update and quickly waited for “Likes” and comments to flow in? It’s a fresh, real-time reward.

How can understanding our instant gratification impulses impact communications? Here are a few guiding thoughts: 

Keep it simple. Some neuroscientists think that our brains aren’t equipped to deal with the amount of choices, decisions, variables, and stimulus present in today’s always-on, always-connected world. As a result, communicating less information can be beneficial. Don’t inundate your audience with details, and limit the number of choices and information.

Keep it new. A constant stream of novelty can go a long way. Obviously, news about products and services can garner attention and drive consideration. And new creative, even slight variants of existing creative, can also gratify. In essence, sameness becomes familiar faster than ever; newness heightens excitement. 

Keep it surprising. In a world full of so much choice and stimulus, the element of surprise can be a motivational trigger. The more unexpected you can be, the more opportunities to drive interest and discovery. 

Keep it rewarding. Simple rewards work, generating impulses that become habits. Whether it involves simple badges for checking in or participating in a deeply structured gamification scenario, micro-incentivizing behaviors can quickly ratchet up motivation and promote more frequent engagement.

Keep it emotional. Every second of every day, the brain is locked in a battle between rational and emotional impulses. When the emotional impulses win, the brain often craves more of these impulses. Messaging that taps into emotional hot-buttons can lay the groundwork for repeated interaction.

Of course, there are multiple other factors toward understanding the true impact of and learnings from porn and video games. But, if the stereotype is true and men think about sex every seven seconds, it can’t be a bad place for us to start.

 

Tags: gaming, men
Recommend (11) Print RSS
4 comments about "What Online Porn And Video Games Tell Us About Male Behavior ".
  1. Walter Graff from Bluesky Media , September 4, 2012 at 9:48 a.m.
    Unfortunately you haven't looked at web statistics. Women search for and view porn just as much as men. Porn is NOT an industry dominated by men. And as years pass, more and more women are turning to internet porn. .. Women keeping their cyber activities secret 70%... Women struggling with pornography addiction 17%... Ratio of women to men favoring chat rooms2X... Percentage of visitors to adult websites who are women 1 in 3 visitors... Women accessing adult websites each month 9.4 million... Women admitting to accessing pornography at work 13%... Women, far more than men, are likely to act out their behaviors in real life, such as having multiple partners, casual sex or affairs... Sources: ABC, Associated Press, AsiaMedia, AVN, BBC, CATW, U.S. Census, Central Intelligence Agency, China Daily, Chosen.com, Comscore Media Metrix, Crimes Against Children, Eros, Forbes, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Free Speech Coalition, Google, Harris Interactive, Hitwise, Hoover's, Japan Inc., Japan Review, Juniper Research, Kagan Research, ICMEC, Jan LaRue, The Miami Herald, MSN, Nielsen/NetRatings, The New York Times, Nordic Institute, PhysOrg.com, PornStudies, Pravda, Sarmatian Review, SEC filings, Secure Computing Corp., SMH, TopTenREVIEWS, Trellian, WICAT, Yahoo!, XBIZ
  2. Jennifer Jarratt from Leading Futurists, LLC , September 4, 2012 at 1:36 p.m.
    Your advice would be just as useful in the US election campaigns, IMO, particularly the bit about keeping it simple And maybe also the advice on keeping it surprising, because campaign material uses constant reiteration and mind-numbing repetition of the same old...
  3. Patrick Labay from Artstrada magazine , September 4, 2012 at 3:13 p.m.
    I have decided that Cavemen started drawing porn on the wall to deal with being locked in a cave all winter with sick and fat retards discussing election results and ad campaigns...
  4. Matthew Jackson from HolidaySeason , November 29, 2012 at 1:15 p.m.
    pretty cool.video games are pretty awesome and event got in to airsoft because of the games i play and its just a lot of fun http://www.airsplat.com/airsoft-video-games.htm