Skip to main content
A cartoon depiction of the author, wearing a hoodie and smiling

Kind Acts of Randomness

Kind Acts of Randomness

Mark Rosewater:

One of the biggest arguments against randomness is that it takes away from skill, the idea being that having everything under your control rewards the better players. Turns out it doesn’t quite work that way. Let me explain. Random events happening in a game force players to do several things. One, they have to identify what is happening and what it means to the current game; two, they have to deduce how best to use the new variable to bend the game to their favor; and three, they have to maximize their other resources to take advantage of the new variable. It turns out that doing all this is pretty complicated and thus the more experienced players are much better at it. The more unpredictable, unknown variables that get added to a game, the more opportunity there is for the better player to take advantage of them.

In the full article, Mark Rosewater presents the pros and cons of “randomness” in gaming and proposes how to best use it while minimizing anger among a hardcore player community. But I pulled this out-of-context quote because I find myself on the pro-random side a lot when talking with my ultra-competitive friends.

I also really found the bit about how rolling more dice generally gives you a more consistent experience but the presence of more dice makes the anti-random crowd feel like more randomness is being introduced. That seems like a pretty fascinating fallacy to me!