Theory: Randomness and Responsibility

In the past, I’ve argued against employing control difficulty as a gate for player power. Sam Von Ehren offered an alternative perspective today, one that deserves more thought and time than I’m able to give it as the NYU Game Center End-of-Year Show approaches. For the future, then, a summary:

Randomness built into a game system can be frustrating. If players have to do something difficult, on the other hand, one gets much of the benefit of randomness–even experienced players will trip up sometimes, and will be concerned about it still more–while putting the burden on the players instead of on the game. When their errors introduce uncertainty into a match, they will see themselves as the cause, and want to improve. That’s much more palatable than feeling as though the game is out to get them.

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