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Feature: 'A Matter of Luck'

In this game design analysis, former Midway and current Kuju designer Richard Todd references titles from Diablo to Minesweeper to examine the use of luck in games
In this game design analysis, former Midway and current Kuju designer Richard Todd references titles from Diablo to Minesweeper to examine the use of luck in games. Showing that luck can be broken down into individual categories, Todd describes three variables that one can look to when classifying instances of luck -- polarity, transparency, and congruity: "Polarity - Chance is sometimes in the player's favor: we refer to this as positive luck. On the other hand, chance is sometimes to the disadvantage of the player: we refer to this as negative luck. Transparency - Clearly a player may either be aware that a particular outcome was due to chance or he may be ignorant of that fact. We refer to these as evident and concealed luck, respectively. Congruity - If the chance event occurs as a direct consequence of play in accordance with the requirements of the game then we call the luck proper. However, if the play is contrary to the requirements of the game then we refer to the luck as improper. A third possibility is that the luck is entirely incidental: we then call it neutral." He then outlines luck's relationship with different qualities in games -- like Reward, Control, and Accessibility. He uses the variables described above to show the effects of luck on particular qualities, such as Attainment: "Imagine that when playing Monopoly, despite getting poor rolls of the dice, you make shrewd decisions and you win the game by a small margin. This is inevitably more satisfying than winning by the same margin by sheer good fortune in the rolls of the dice. We refer to this as the player's sense of attainment, in other words the player's perception that his (or her) success is a true reflection of his skill of which he can be justly proud. Clearly this is affected by luck only when the player is aware that luck has been involved; the sense of achievement is all the greater if the player knows that he has triumphed despite bad luck, and weakened if the player knows that he has been fortunate." You can read the full feature, which goes into more detail on the relationship of luck with different qualities in video games, as well as luck's effect on those qualities (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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