PBS Game Show

What do you think of PBSgameshow?

Not interested. Boring social justice topics very frequently, not a lot of talk about games. It’s about on the level of Game Theory.

Sirlin’s podcast infuriates me, especially his recent starcraft one, but it’s still the only gaming podcast I actually want to listen to.

This is the only game design related video on the front page:

It’s arguing in favor of luck and conflating all non-determinism (or indeterminancy as he puts it) as luck in an attempt to advocate for bad mechanics.

Also promoting poker, which is a shit game that is popular because it was in the right place at the right time, not because of particular merit. (also apparently boardgamegeeks rates it lowly)

He presents the opposite as games that are purely measurements, like who’s taller or who owns the most cats, ignoring that things like arm wrestling exist.

Someone please just tell every single amateur who wants to repeat this boring bullshit: “NO WE SHOULDN’T EMBRACE LUCK BASED MECHANICS JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE OF WINNING MORE FREQUENTLY IN GAMES HEAVILY DETERMINED BY LUCK. WE SHOULD BE GETTING AWAY FROM THESE THINGS AND IN MULTIPLAYER GAMES FOCUSING MORE ON INTERACTIONS BASED ON PREDICTING THE OPPONENT, SUCH AS PREARRANGING THE DECK ORDER.”

Human beings are not completely unpredictable. If we were then we could throw out the fields of sociology, psychiatry, and all of fighting games. People are inconsistent, because people change over time, however they change in response to outside stimuli. Probably a better term than unpredictable or nondeterministic is “developmentally noisy”, or “Emergent” or something. The thing you’ll hear at every cryptography conference ever is that people are really bad at being random, because we tend to just borrow information from our environment, stick to preexisting tendencies, or be biased towards certain answers. Frank Lantz coined the term “Donkey Space” to describe how people playing suboptimally in a mixed solution game can deliberately play even more suboptimally in order to exploit their opponent’s similarly suboptimal play.

Here’s the big difference between mechanics based on luck and simple human inconsistency: Humans can improve their consistency. Dice can’t. Dice will perpetually make you feel like you’re one roll away from a hot streak because humans suck at probability, so we feel really good when we get that one time, but we have no way to keep up the good times because we can’t improve there, ultimately leading to frustration or simple addiction.

Games are fun based on improving in consistency, finding patterns. We shouldn’t be using these stupid cop-out conflations of human inconsistency versus RNG inconsistency to justify bad mechanics.

RNGesus, please free us from amateur games critics who keep trying to justify crappy random probability bullshit.

Amen.

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