Risk Analysis in Game Design

September 19, 2006 at 6:15 pm (Game Design)

Dice are an effective tool in game design, allowing you to give the players a multitude is decisions with an inherent risk factor.  Do I perform the action that requires a “4” or better, or the action that requires a “6” or better?

 If it wasn’t for dice, games would be broken down into simplistic decisions that would be the same for any given situation.  But now there’s risks to different decision – the risk of failure, the risk of consequences, etc. etc. 

 The assigning of risk is a great factor in game design and is so useful that it may lead many of us to make games that center completely around analyzing and deciding risks for particular situations.

 There’s a big problem with this.  The problem is that many players decide for themselves what level of risk they are comfortable with.  Once these decisions are made, there is no more risk analysis — risks have been pre-analyzed, often regardless of situation.  Some players prefer more risk than others, and no amount of altering the situation will compensate for this.  As game designers, we have to realize this and depend on other factors to offer different strategic preferences other than simple risk analysis and odds of success.

Also, where one player (or GM) opposes another, he may have a wide variety of actions available, and thus his strategy is unknown but if the player is likely to accept a general risk level and the game is built around risk decisions, then I have a rough idea what another player’s strategy wil be before he announces his actions.

There has to be more to differing strategies than target numbers, consequences, and risk analysis.  What other options and alternatives may be available will be explored in future posts on this blog.


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