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Tabletop Game Design for Video Game Designers by Ethan Ham

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Chapeter TenChance

Introduction

Games are engines of uncertainty. It is one of the traits that makes a game a game. Even games whose outcomes seem inevitable contain some spark of uncertainty. It is not entirely impossible that a Chess novice beats a Grandmaster or that Tic-Tac-Toe does not end in a draw. It is true that a game of Tetris cannot end in anything but a loss, but the final score is unknown in advance of playing.

Game designer Greg Costikyan has pointed out that it is human nature to dread uncertainty. An uncertain good thing (the possibility of promotion) can be nearly as stressful as an uncertain bad thing (the possibility of being laid off). In the same way that we enjoy experiencing the thrill of fear in tamed and nonthreatening ...

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