The role of random chance in virtual games

Luck has always been a pertinent topic in the study of ludology with some going so far as to suggest that it might be necessary for luck to be present in some capacity in a game for it to be called a game in the first place. This might put off some lovers of competition, in that luck might in some way discredit the competitive validity of an activity, but the game of chess, which is widely considered as one of the most balanced and complex games of all time, happens to begin (though before the pieces touch the game board) with a simple coin flip.

It is worth noting, at this point, that the discussion of luck in sport, rather than game, will not be covered to the same extent, as the manifestations of chance are more often products of human action than of the rules themselves; A puck bouncing in a seemingly unusual way in ice hockey will always be a product of physical law, and a zone of bad ice or "dead" boards, while often acknowledged by the rules, would not exist in the optimal play of the game. Games, on the other hand, will all too often boast elements of randomness that are intended upon by the rule set. Perhaps the most overt example of this is in games using a deck of cards; Most card games rely solely on randomness to function, with the players being encouraged to make assumptions based on degrees of reduced randomness bolstered by accessible information.

Computer games have an interesting and underexplored relationship with random chance, and I feel that an exploration of how that chance fosters enjoyableness , competitive viability, and longevity. Whether it be a percent chance an attack has to "critically" hit, or the random spray pattern of a machine gun, or even the likelihood of assembling Exodia when facing down lethal damage, luck is ever present in virtual games, and deserves to be analyzed for it’s impact.

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