The Gambling Games of Video Games
Now, Gambling usually means that you place a certain amount of money and you can either win more or lose everything you bet. In some MMOs though what might be lost is your time (and a lot of your patience). In many RPGs in general the idea of using Dice Rolls to determine who gets what piece of loot could be considered a form of gambling. While you did not put money on the line (unless you count subscription fees) you did invest a lot of your time, and if the piece of gear you really wanted goes to somebody who was Greedy rather than Needy you might as well feel like you lost your bet.
And when you lose such a bet what choices do you have? You either “fold”, give up and leave, or you can try again, which essentialy means placing a new „bet”. Repeating on some quests, to get that specific piece of loot, item or trinket is in essence gambling, because you put a lot of your time and commitment on the line, and you do not know whether the thing you were after will appear.
Yet, going back to the original point, Dice games, and their many variations, appear in Video Games both to decide who gets loot picks as well as a method of gambling. There are many different types of Dice Games, but the most basic one where you roll a number of die, and whoever gets the highest score wins, is as simple as it gets, and can fit pretty much any setting that had access to dice.
Other variations of dice games exist, such as the Witcher’s Dwarven Poker, where you played poker with dice.
Allow me to elaborate. Just like I said moments ago you invest your time and resources into a quest, mission or fight. You expect to win, and perhaps you did. Some Video Games will offer pre-set or random loot, but some games take a mediocre step further and say, “Here are three chests, pick one”. Well, it might be more than three choices but you get the idea. You can, in a way, pick what you will get, but just like in any MMO, RPG or similar game there is a good chance that you won’t get what you were after, and instead receive things you do not need or want.
One big example of that? Payday 2. Now, I love Payday 2, I love that you can engage in a number of Heists, get some big cash, experience, feel like you are moving forward. Believe me when I say though, nobody cares about the masks, paints or decals past a certain point. People want Weapon Mods. But even if you get a Weapon Mod card there is no guarantee that you will get a weapon mod you WANT. In fact, I had situations where I would get multiple similar weapon mods, and since I had only one weapon fitting them I would have a bunch of identical weapon mods that I had absolutely no use for.
Choice mini-games can be annoying, especially if the game then tells you, „Here is what you might had had!”. You end up beating yourself up for not clicking the chest on the right/left, but you can never tell whether the prize will be any good, it’s all a gamble, of your time, and sometimes patience.
Wheel of Fortune/Slots
Some games are just about you pulling a lever and hoping you get something good. You might end up with nothing at all, you might win big, but the fact of the matter is games where pure luck is concerned are gambling games, in the purest sense. Some games allow you to have an edge against the opponent, or the game itself. But the Slots, for example, are a form of gambling where you have no way of influencing whether you will win. Sometimes you have some semblance of control, such as after the first lever pull you can pick which “results” you want to keep, but most of the time it’s pure blind luck (or lack of it).
Some games have this, Pokemon even had it. The chances of winning big are always small, but not all chance games are against you. In Tapped Out you could purchase Scratch Cards that ALWAYS allowed you to win enough money to cover the cost of buying the scratch card, and then some. It’s hard to generalize, but some video games do enjoy giving the player a shot at “blind luck”. I am not in favor of such personally, but sometimes if you do have that excess capital you might as well give them a shot.
While the above forms of gambling, some more specific than others, are present in many video games I would wish to address one specific type, in MMOs. I am not a big fan of Dice Rolls. I enjoy the feeling of knowing that when I finish a quest the loot I get means it’s a step in the right direction. I do not like the feeling of contributing to a victory and then not getting the one piece of loot that might had actually helped me. The issue is that you do not have much choice when everything is decided by Dice Rolls.
Quests where “Gold Farming” is heavily present can also make people plain annoyed when you cannot complete a quest because all the spawns are stolen by others. You cannot progress, as you have to sit around and wait for respawns. The problem is magnified by kill-stealing or perhaps even loot snatching.
The MMOs are learning though. They minimize the gambling aspect by allowing all players to get a bit of the loot, or rather the loot they are after, rather than putting everything on the table and forcing you to „win or lose” after you have already won.
You are bound to see the different categories of games mentioned above, in one shape or form. These are simplest types of games you can make, and which people can understand quickly, thus the sort of games you want for your players.