Game Design

Probability for Game Designers


On Twitter, Chevy Ray complained about the use over simplifying terms in math that end up confusing him, and Sven Bergström provided a link to a useful resource.

Thanks, Sven!

Probability for Game Designers by Cheapass Games founder James Ernest takes you on a quick tour of probability theory to help game designers understand their own designs better.

We tend to use experimental and anecdotal evidence to decide whether random events are working or not. You can only playtest your game a limited number of times, but many of the random possibilities may be extremely rare. A practical analysis of the random events can give you a better understanding of whether your latest dice-rolling catastrophe was a fluke or a serious problem.

He explains odds, expected value, statistically independent events vs statistically dependent events, and more, and he provides examples from games and quick exercises to help drive the points home.

I’m also going to dig into Ernest’s other articles on game design, including the related Volatility in Game Design notes from GenCon 2012.