Basic Introduction to Game Design

Chance and Skill in Game Design

Cite this article as: Lennart Nacke. (October 15, 2014). Chance and Skill in Game Design. The Acagamic. Retrieved August 10, 2020, from

Welcome to the fifth week of class in the course: Basic Introduction to Game Design. Make sure to read the syllabus and course information before you continue. Today, we are going to discuss chance and skill in game design. This text follows closely from our textbook (Challenges for Game Designers, Chapter 5 and 8). I also take inspiration from Schell’s The Art of Game Design (Chapter 10, pp.150-170) and Adams’s and Rollings’s Fundamentals of Game Design (Chapter 11). However, this is the part when I break free.

Games, which feature meaningful decisions, do not always have to require or evoke skills from a player. Some games operate entirely by chance. Games that rely more heavily on chance than on skill are often found in the context of children’s games or gambling. Why does this difference matter? The player is going to play, play, play, play, play – are they not? Do not shake off the notion of chance too swiftly. Games of chance can be very engaging, because they can allow players of different skill sets to engage in a balanced competition. Games are for everyone; for people, who are used to rolling the dice and people, who like to feel the fear in their enemy’s eyes. Some people even think it is fun to lose and to pretend. However, games of luck in particular seem to feature more attainable goals and are winnable by more people.

On the other hand, games like Tic-Tac-Toe are entirely skill-based and can be mastered, once a player figures out a dominant strategy. See this example lecture for forming a Tic-Tac-Toe strategy via reasoning:


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