The Game of Risk


Pixel Piracy is one of those games where taking risks can mean game over. In this case I took the risk of engaging a Level 1 Pirate Ship… You guessed it, I lost.

Taking Risks

One particular article that made me think about this topic comes from Forbes. Margie Warrell writes about taking Risk, and how we:

1) Do not take risks, because we are afraid of something going wrong.

2) We exagerate the possible consequences, when something might go wrong.

3) We underestimate our abilities to cope with the consequences from a failed risk attempt.

4) We discount the consequences of inaction, rather than attempting to take the risk.

Of course, you might be looking at your own life and thinking just how accurate this is, but also consider your own gaming habits. Did you ever find yourself playing a video game and feeling any of the above? I cannot speak for myself here, but I feel that there are two possibilities. We either do not feel the same way about Risks in video games, because we understand that the consequences of risk taking do not effect our personal lives. However, at the same time, nobody likes to lose. So we might be willing to take a Risk in a video game, because we want to try something new, or we want to complete a challenge, but we might not take any risks if we feel this could make us feel bad, due to a loss.

It all comes down to what game we are talking about. In League of Legends, for example, when playing a Ranked game, you would typically never want to take certain risks. Ranked games put you somewhere on the virtual ranking board. It’s both a form of distinction and “status”. Losing means you drop down on the ladder. In this case what a risky situation is depends on what you yourself view as risk. For example, taking a champion you barely know into a Ranked Game is a very risky thing to do, since you could pick a safer option (a champion you know) but you do not, for whatever reason (be it good or bad). Deciding how you play the game (tactics) is a whole other matter, since your personal skills and knowledge could influence the degree of risk you are facing.

In single player games, such as Skyrim, Portal or Half-Life taking risk is different because the main thing you could lose is time. In most single player games when you lose a segment of the game you wanted to win you can just reload the game. The risk might simply become a challenge because there is no permanent loss. However some Roguelikes, such as Pixel Piracy, have a permanent death system, where the risk is real, because the death of your captain could mean the game is over. In some Indie titles this is also present, such as Project Zomboid, where you decision to scavenge a shop could end with you getting bitten by a zombie, thus eventually dying to the infection. Project Zomboid also adds to the risk factor by making urban areas far more dangerous. So, you can choose to live in rural areas where there are less zombies, or move closer to an urban area where there are far more zombies, and thus the risk of death is higher.

I just have to say one thing, regarding risk. We are often under the impression, especially in video games, that a higher-risk venture is the more profitable option, that is not always the case. Sometimes the simpler option is indeed the better option, because the risk could cost you more and the profits could be smaller. In most video games, of course, risk means reward. No risk means lower rewards, but remember, most video games, not all of them.

Risk is something that will always be present in both our real and virtual lives. Just remember one thing, losing online or in a video game is never as bad as losing something in real life, so if you do get frustrated, angry or sad that something risky did not work out in your game, just relax. It’s only a game. And yes, I know how hard it is with some games, but hey! We can at least try.

Alex “WriterX” Bielski


About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

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