back to article Men! If you want to win at board games this Christmas, turn off the rock music – scientists

Chaps, listen. Are you sick of losing at Monopoly every Christmas? Do you dread the sight of backgammon or the sound of rattling Scrabble tiles? The trick to winning board games could be to avoid listening to rock music, apparently. Scientists at Imperial College London have teamed up with musicians from the Royal College of …

  1. vir

    Additional Data

    A recent study with a sample size of one found that board game performance also decreases significantly with each pint of beer consumed.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Additional Data

      I would like to corroborate this and add that this same theory appears to hold true for a sample size of two. Although for science's sake it may be a good idea to check again. And with a sample size of three, and four.

      Science *is* important.

    2. Florida1920

      Re: Additional Data

      A recent study with a sample size of one found that board game performance also decreases significantly with each pint of beer consumed.

      Not necessarily. I vaguely recall a New Year's Eve many years ago, when the guests brought a bottle of cognac. We sat down to play Monopoly and the other players were happy to let me drink the cognac, thinking it would decrease my performance. I boldly wiped them out -- and had almost the whole bottle to myself as well. Had a helluva hangover, though.

      1. Fungus Bob

        Re: helluva hangover

        Ah, the other players got the intellectual victory...

  2. Paul Kunert

    Does Slade count as Rock music?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken
      1. D@v3

        Slade is Rock. Yes I would say are Prog.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Not prog.

          Glam. But yes, rock.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As they are one of the most successful UK rock bands of all time, I'd certainly say yes.

  3. EveryTime

    Error in the text

    You wrote

    "Scientists at Imperial College London have teamed up with musicians from the Royal College of Music"

    I believe that the more accurate story is

    "Tenure-seeking schemers at Imperial College London have teamed up with the the current- and future unemployed from the Royal College of Music leverage a biased experiment into headline-worthy pseudo 'discoveries'."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Error in the text

      "Attention seeking commentator blasts any science that his tiny mind can conjure any explanation for."

      Film at 11 in your bathroom mirror!

      I always find that mostly backwards, hillbilly-type assholes are the ones so concerned with science not providing them with instant answers, or a robot girlfriend. Which are you, boy?

      A family member just got a new, high-tech heart valve installed with a procedure so noninvasive they were up the next day and released in two. They said "thank god" and I reminded them that no god had anything to do with it, then I thanked science for them. They know.

      So, Science Bless Us, Everyone. But not Everytime... :P

  4. MrDamage

    I would perform poorly if I had to listen to Chunderstruck.

    However, give me some Acca Dacca from when Bon Scott used to sing, compared to Brian Johnson's loud wheezing, or Axel Rose's "got my cock caught in the zipper" wailing, and I perform much better.

    1. GruntyMcPugh

      Re: I would perform poorly if I had to listen to Chunderstruck.

      I first saw AC~DC in '85. I was late. It was over. BJ on FTATR and Back in Black is OK. But he got nasal. It's now a pantomime. Oh yes it is.

  5. Franco Silver badge

    To be fair, I find it hard to concentrate whilst also singing THUNDER! AH AH AH AH AHAH AHAHA.

    Next week's pointless scientific study. Why the fuck aren't scientists doing useful things with their time and grant money?

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      The Imperial Festival is an event to promote science to non-scientists and to generate more interest into STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in general.

      Not everything has to be high brow science...

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge


      Why the fuck aren't scientists doing useful things with their time and grant money?

      Why the fuck are angry idiots unable to read and comprehend simple English?

      Although this study is clearly tongue-in-cheek, and was all performed in our spare time

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I propose a new study:

      "At which point do commetards give up reading the article before mashing away at the keyboard".

      Seems like it could be worth the grant money they never used.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        I suggest a mean time of about 2 goldfish.

        1. Francis Boyle

          Mythbusters proved

          that goldfish do in fact have a decent memory. Now a certain politician I won't name because I have apparently used up my quota. . . Suffice it to say that the value you want is in the order of 5 Tr.

  6. dan1980

    Finding that the fine motor skills and concentration required for a game like 'Operation' is affected by choice of music is one thing. I can't see a necessary connection to games requiring different skill sets.

    Is it not possible that rock music might make someone take a more aggressive - and potentially beneficial - approach to Monopoly?

    1. Esme

      @dan 1980 - thumbs up from me, I was thinking the same thing. I've found that in multiplayer games around a table, some men seem to perform less well at whatever the game is, due to distraction caused by my, erm, natural assets. Presumbaly mine also suffers somewhat when other women are involved, given I bat for the girls team. Methinks more in-depth research is indicated.. Any idea where I can get a grant for a Monopoly set, CD player, selection of random music, half a dozen crates of beer and a similar number of crates of wine, plus the recruitment of a suitably assorted set of test subjects?

      1. dan1980

        I'm game to test your theory . . .

        1. ElectricFox

          Count me in too!

          As long as I can be the battleship!

  7. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    "So, that's the procedure I'll be using, do you have any questions?"

    Yeah, what's your favourite music?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Did they correct for eyewear?

    I mean, I'm much smarter when I wear glasses. I'm sure that a nearsighted control group should be established.

    (Icon shows ultimate boardgame champion)

    1. Esme

      Re: Did they correct for eyewear?

      hmmm - what about longsighted peeps?

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Did they correct for eyewear?

      How about contact lenses and really cool shades?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My sample of one...

    ..showed that my kill to death ratio in Quake 2 was greatly improved by the ministrations of Kim Wilde, specifically:

    - "Chequered Love" = moderate but consistent boost. It will get me to the top end of the leaderboard

    - "Kids in America ('94 Extension Remix)" = massive boost except for a slowdown in the middle where I get absolutely slaughtered if I haven't found a place to hide in time. If do right, no can defend!!

    For those that will judge me or my music tastes, I guess I have to just cop that

  10. jake Silver badge

    Given the option of board games or rock music ...

    ... there is no competition. I'll take the rock, ta.

    There is a reason they call 'em "bored games", as any fule noes ...

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Given the option of board games or rock music ...

      Never had a few rounds of Ludo resulting in fisticuffs? Seriously, you're missing out!

    2. BongoJoe

      Re: Given the option of board games or rock music ...

      Alas I can't find any relative willing to play a 'quick' game of 1825 or Civilisation. And neither can I get anyone to get hammered at Monopoly (the game where 99% of the players think that they know the rules but don't).

      So it's the drink for me as the wife and daughter will be playing 50s 'cheerful' Christmas music. Another reason to sit in the kitchen with a good book whilst 'looking after' the turkey.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Given the option of board games or rock music ...

        Hammered at monopoly, or hammered playing monoploy , im planning on the 2nd one

  11. Korev Silver badge


    I'm pleased that they did this in their spare time and didn't have a Monopoly over their working hours

  12. Potemkine Silver badge

    Before drawing conclusions

    With such a small sample, what is the sampling error?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dr Brian May

    would not approve.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Dr Brian May

      That old Queen?

  14. The Metal Cod

    They chose the wrong song. Triple H's theme by Motorhead is far better, it proclaims "Time to play The Game!"

    1. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

      They chose the wrong song.

      Once upon a time one of my friends tried to psych me out with four hours of harpsichord music while playing World in Flames (or similar). He claimed that it was just that he liked harpsichord music, but even after all this time I'm still not convinced.

      1. Vic

        Re: They chose the wrong song.

        one of my friends tried to psych me out with four hours of harpsichord music

        "Golden Brown" on repeat?

        The bastard...


        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: They chose the wrong song.

          Ah, yes. Golden Brown, the song about Marmite.

          Thanks for the ear-worm, Vic, you bastard ...

  15. lukewarmdog

    You've not Operated until you've tried the extreme version:

    Push It - Salt n Pepa

    Wiggle It - 2 In a Room

    Agadoo - Black Lace

    Baby Got Back - Sir Mixalot

    Can't Touch This - MC Hammer

    Body Movin' - Beastie Boys

    Never Tear Us Apart - Inxs

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Be worried when they play Smack Your Bitch Up - Prodigy

  16. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge


    I wish I could spend my days doing research as groundbreakingly beneficial and useful to the human race as this.

    1. Yugguy

      Re: Wow...

      they did it in their spare time...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess it depends to some extent on whether the test subjects are the sort of people who enjoy rock music or classical music. I would expect people to find it harder to concentrate when subjected to music they don't like. I do my best work when listening to iron maiden. Listening to mozart would drive me nuts.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On a semi-related note, I've found Kraftwerk to be the best background music for coding - "Home Computer", which includes the lines: "I program my home computer, Beam me into the future" is particularly effective. I'm not sure if this is can be classified as motivational music

    YMMV though, I still do quite a bit of VB6 work (clearly I have been beamed into a distopian future).

    Perhaps a Reg survey - best coding music?

    Anonymous because...VB6

    1. jake Silver badge

      Best coding music?

      C and assembler: Mid to late '70s Punk.

      Scripting languages: Blues.

      Works for me, anyway.

  19. FuzzyWuzzys

    Hold on....

    This isn't fair, I thought women had an advantage with small delicate tasks like those required for the game Operation, they're far better with smaller actions on small parts, something my wife tells me she excels at, not sure what she means.

    Soon put a stop to that by putting on some proper music like Lamb of God, Decapitation or Slayer.

  20. Julifriend

    Alternatve gender? Or is El Reg not great at maths?

    The sample size is quoted as over 350 visitors (184 men and 143 women). Were the rest of an alternative gender? Or is El Reg not that good at maths.

  21. NightFox

    Reg headline fail.

    Operation is no more a board game than snooker is. There's no board for a start, that's a big clue in itself.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Must admit, that was my first thought too. It wasn't a test of game playing, which is a more mental task, it was a test of manual dexterity. I'm sure the results are valid, just not for the claimed result.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mine had a "board" top section, with a nasty red plastic under-section. Maybe modern ones don't, but the 70's most certainly did.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Scientists at Imperial College London"

    "The goal was to carefully remove plastic body parts from Cavity Sam, a worried-looking cartoon man, who has a red light bulb nose that lights up every time players touched the edge of a cavity opening with a pair of tweezers. And the players received a mild electric shock."

    I doubt they even know what "Cavity Sam" is, in the UK it's called "Operation"

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "Scientists at Imperial College London"

      It sounds like they used a special version of the game too. IIRC the nose lights up and a buzzer sounds when you touch the edges. The player doesn't get a "mild electric shock".

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me or.....

    does anyone else find the center-parting cartoon bloke on the Operation game reminds them of comedian Michael McIntyre?

    Just wondering.

  24. Glenturret Single Malt

    Says it all

    "Men who listened to AC/DC....."

    What did they expect to discover/

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Says it all

      The players were on the highway to hell?

  25. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Research suggestion...

    Does Millie Jackson incite aggression at the Poker Table?


  26. Baskitcaise


    How is it that nobody has commented on this name?

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Daisy??

      Wasn't she the subject of Oleta Adams/Tears For Fears "Woman In Chains"?

      Daisy...Chains .. oh never mind

      Reminds me though of a very memorable gig @ Wembley Arena many moons ago...

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