Like with traditional sports, the idea that practice makes perfect for eSports athletes is pervasive. The more repetition and practice a gamer can get in, the more adeptly they can handle last-minute shifts in competitive matches and hit their targets with high rates of accuracy.

Still, the idea that randomness plays a huge part in gaming isn’t embraced by many. In fact, some gamers have repeatedly appealed to developers to lessen the impact of change in their titles. In other words, they want complete control over the game and the ability to hit that highly elusive perfect score.

And while it might be possible for developers to create a game that incorporates no aspect of randomness, or a tech-savvy fan to create a mod that removes chance, it’s an incredibly important element of gaming. This is especially true in eSports, where gamers aren’t just looking to win a match but also entertain the masses.

The Mighty RNG

Random number generators (RNGs) are tools used by developers to incorporate randomness into a game. RNGs come in all shapes and sizes. Most run on algorithms, while some actually draw on biological feedback like thermal heat patterns in order to generate random number sequences.

For example, online casinos such as PokerStars Casino rely on RNGs to facilitate randomness in games like roulette. Players can choose from four different variations on the platform, which all run on trusted RNGs. In this case, PokerStars Casino relies on its own quantum solution to guarantee random outcomes, which is based on the principles of quantum mechanics. 

In video games, RNGs guarantee that even if a player inputs the same exact actions each time, the outcome might not be the same. League of Legends, for example, uses an RNG that focuses on ‘output variance’, just like Dungeons and Dragons or World of Warcraft.

In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, players now have the option to choose a fully ‘random’ mode that will switch up their operator and weapon. The idea is to create more complexity and depth in a game, which challenges gamers and separates the masters from the apprentices.

Keeping Perfection Just Out of Reach

Chance and variation are critical parts of any competition, which is why the RNGs working behind the scenes of the world’s greatest eSports titles won’t change any time soon. In the realm of eSports, discussions on RNGs are popular because humans have found a way to generate a chance.

In traditional sports like soccer and rugby, players constantly battle unknowns. This comes down to external conditions like weather and home-field advantage, along with factors like injured players or delayed starts. These aspects of variety make it impossible for players to develop a ‘perfect’ approach to the game. If they did, fans would have little interest—no more underdogs, no more fourth-quarter comebacks.  

The same principle applies to eSports—and tenfold to games that value precision, like first-person shooters. RNGs are a way for developers to guarantee that players never get bored and that audiences can’t easily predict a match’s outcome.

Though some gamers continue to be frustrated by RNGs that kick off a losing streak, chance and gaming go back to the dawn of humankind. Before we had video games or major sports leagues, we used tools like dice in order to generate randomness in the table and board games. 

In fact, the earliest playing dice can be traced back to Egypt and Mesopotamia. Knucklebones were used as an early type of dice in Ancient Egypt to play the game of Senet as early as 3000 BCE. The game closely resembled modern backgammon but also included elements of fortune-telling. 

Five thousand years later, gamers are still hung up on that (virtual) roll of the dice. Just like ancient Egyptians playing Senet, there’s no level of skill or degree of experience that will force a specific outcome. But, in the end, that’s part of the magic of gaming.

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