Basic Introduction to Game Design

Chance and Skill in Game Design

Welcome to the fifth week of class in the course: Basic Introduction to Game Design. Make sure to read the syl­labus and course infor­ma­tion before you con­tin­ue. Today, we are going to dis­cuss chance and skill in game design. This text fol­lows close­ly from our text­book (Challenges for Game Designers, Chapter 5 and 8). I also take inspi­ra­tion from Schell’s The Art of Game Design (Chapter 10, pp.150–170) and Adams’s and Rollings’s Fundamentals of Game Design (Chapter 11). However, this is the part when I break free.

Games, which fea­ture mean­ing­ful deci­sions, do not always have to require or evoke skills from a play­er. Some games oper­ate entire­ly by chance. Games that rely more heav­i­ly on chance than on skill are often found in the con­text of children’s games or gam­bling. Why does this dif­fer­ence mat­ter? The play­er is going to play, play, play, play, play — are they not? Do not shake off the notion of chance too swift­ly. Games of chance can be very engag­ing, because they can allow play­ers of dif­fer­ent skill sets to engage in a bal­anced com­pe­ti­tion. Games are for every­one; for peo­ple, who are used to rolling the dice and peo­ple, who like to feel the fear in their enemy’s eyes. Some peo­ple even think it is fun to lose and to pre­tend. However, games of luck in par­tic­u­lar seem to fea­ture more attain­able goals and are winnable by more peo­ple.

On the oth­er hand, games like Tic-Tac-Toe are entire­ly skill-based and can be mas­tered, once a play­er fig­ures out a dom­i­nant strat­e­gy. See this exam­ple lec­ture for form­ing a Tic-Tac-Toe strat­e­gy via rea­son­ing:


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