359/366 – RNGesus Is A Harsh Deity
Randomness is a funny thing in games. It can either be the catalyst to something that just happens to keep you playing a game out of the fact that it happens to smile on you, or it can be the thing that gets you to almost throw your PC out the window because of how cruel it can be to you. Thing is, RNG has been around for a very long time, and its sheer ability to infuriate and excite in the same moment is probably why it’s received the colloquial term of being called RNGesus, because it certainly might seem like sometimes that a deity is at play when it happens to you.
RNG can show up in games in a variety of ways – loot that drops from boss that you pray is equippable or usable by you, a way for events to grant you great prizes or terrible lumps of useless garbage loot, an earned reward that happens to contain a random bit of something that might be of benefit to you, and more. In some forms, it can be purchased for more chances at finding out if RNGesus is smiling on you or is simply trolling you to get you to open your wallet, and that’s probably where it can get a little bit harsher. It’s one thing if you’re continuously denied what you’re really looking for out of the RNG loot table for free, but entirely another if you decide to gamble with a little bit of your cash and end up still being disappointed – while a friend next to you can spend nothing and get an amazing item.
A lot of people counter this kind of argument by stating that you shouldn’t risk yourself on games of chance, or that you should be careful about the time (and potentially money) invested in something that is essentially designed to let the house win more often than not. There’s nothing wrong with this argument, but I think people wouldn’t mind that the investment given into the RNG type systems would display just a little bit more beneficial parity more often than punishing disappointment. Does this reduce some of the randomness a bit? Perhaps, and maybe that means it’s not really an RNG system any longer, but I think a lot of the frustration with RNG systems comes from the fact that the randomness is perceived to be more cruel towards people than kind and generous with the better items or benefits in its power to give. Whether or not that perception is true is another story, but even if the numbers support a truly random system in games, that doesn’t invalidate the fact that a system is perceived to not be random at all, but is instead out to get you – or laugh in your face as it dumps on you.
Games have alleviated some of the RNG pain somewhat by allowing for a bit of progression to be built into the systems, whether that is through currency earned in certainty with every RNG chance that can be used to eventually buy items off the RNG loot table manually, or through guaranteed chances to get something of a certain quality with enough tries, or through alternative, non-RNG methods of gaining what’s offered so as not to make it exclusive to the whims of a fictitious randomness god. Sure, that removes a little bit of the true randomness of an RNG system, but it’s probably a small price to pay for the lessening of frustration that is apparent among players who haven’t had luck be on their side – and is, in a sense practical. Even the most resilient of unlucky players may stop trying to RNG themselves into better itemization if they’re always destroyed by it – and by helping that along somewhat with a bit of guaranteed good luck or progression, it motivates them to try their luck once more – even if that luck is oftentimes bad.