Friday, 3 March 2017

Video Games, Luck, and You

Let’s talk about a topic that many video gamers hate to even think about: luck. In video gaming circles, luck is known by a simple abbreviation: RNG, which stands for “random number generation”. It’s a term used to describe randomness within video games.

For example, in the video game Hearthstone, RNG is a term used to describe the random nature of a card-based game or the luck involved with certain cards that don’t have pre-determined targets. For instance, the new Shaman card, Volcano, deals 15 points of damage split among random targets. There’s no way to game this ability outside of not having too many targets on the field, which gives it a notoriously random element that many players hate. Another good Hearthstone example is the Legendary card, Yogg-Saron. This card played a random spell for every spell that you have played during the game, making it incredibly random and spawning a whole series of funny videos on YouTube.

Randomness is everywhere

Random generation doesn’t occur in just card games, however, and much of the “luck” you see in competitive online video games is actually more to do with planning and probability. For instance, if you are playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in a competitive match, you might encounter some situations that are completely random and as a result, lose you the round.

Let’s use the following example; you’re playing on the counter-terrorist side and you have just killed two people entering the B bomb site but the terrorists haven’t dropped the bomb. There’s a high probability that the remaining three terrorists are rotating to the other bomb site in order to have a better chance of planting it and winning the round. They didn’t randomly decide to back away and turn around—they did it because it would offer them a better chance of winning the round or gaining some money to take into the next round.

This sort of decision making usually leads to many new players thinking they “randomly” decided to turn around—but that isn’t the case. Decision making and probability are huge factors when it comes to playing well and beating your opponent.

Some degree of randomness is needed

What makes these games so entertaining to both play and watch is the degree of randomness within each of them. It’s also what makes them popular to bet on, and there have been many illegal gambling intermediaries that offer betting services on everything related to games. It could be Poker matches, Blackjack, the latest eSports matches or even amateur gaming leagues. There are ways around this, however, and you can learn how to play online legally if you know the right places to look.

The randomness also helps to shake up the game and give lesser skilled players a fighting chance as long as they put in the effort. If skill was the only factor involved, then it would create a very stale gameplay environment and the top team will always be dominating which creates a very boring competitive scene. There has to be room for players to improve not just via their motor skills, but also their strategy.

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