Use Randomness Right

When I was working with the game designers at Activision in the Eighties, it was a truism that most players don’t really like randomness. They want games to be predictable. If there has to be some randomness, users want it to behave like a shuffled deck of cards — you don’t know what card will come up next, but you can be sure that you won’t bet dealt the Ace of Spades twice in a row.

True randomness isn’t like that: true randomness is the equivalent of using a zillion decks and shuffling them after every hand. Sometimes you’ll get the Ace of Spades sixteen times in a row. It doesn’t happen very often, but it really gets your attention when it does! And not in a good way. As with poker, you tend to conclude that the dealer is cheating! At Activision, we treated this as a basic fact of human nature.

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