RNG stands for random number generator. An RNG is an algorithm that generates a randomised sequence of numbers that cannot possibly be guessed than any other way than blind luck. In the world of video gaming, RNGs generate randomised figures that operate as a function of value in relation to certain attributes of a physical environment within a video game.
RNGs can help make automated and randomised decisions within real-time gaming, such as area spawns for characters and enemies, or the types of weapons and armoury that can be picked up at random in open-world environments. You only have to look back at old-school video game developers like Nintendo to see that RNGs have been in action for some time, with titles like Mario Kart, which have helped sell millions of SNES Classic consoles among nostalgic gamers in recent years, randomising the items on-track to keep things fresh and interesting.
Randomness is something that is even more essential in various other settings, including forms of online gaming. In the online casino sphere, the use of RNGs is integral to maintaining 100% fairness and transparency. There are independent organisations such as eCOGRA that review the performance of table and slot games to provide trust and credibility for players. Betway Casino is an example of an operator that passes these rigorous assessments of their RNGs, receiving the “Safe and Fair Seal” accreditation for their online slot machines and table games.
Not all online casino operators permit third-party tests of their in-house RNGs, so this is something to bear in mind. RNGs also have their uses in terms of online security, helping user accounts to become more impregnable to cyber-attacks from fraudsters. LastPass is an example of a service which uses random generators to instantly create secure, random passwords that combine a plethora of numbers, letters and symbols. These services are increasingly adopted in workplace environments as well as domestic households to protect the integrity of devices and accounts. When conducting online surveys, many organisations now look to services such as SurveyGizmo to use RNGs for randomising surveys, labelling respondents as random ID numbers instead of their full names to maintain anonymity.
The types of video games that make sense for RNGs
Casual games make perfect sense for the use of RNGs. It suits those who are not serious about their gameplay and don’t invest time and energy to pinpointing flaws and simply enjoy the game for what it is. Puzzle-based games like Tetris are the perfect example. Every block that appears is chosen entirely at random. There may be ways of spotting patterns in the size and shape of the blocks that appear, but this would require continuous memorisation – something that would kill the fun of endless games like these.
RNG manipulation is more of an issue with other casual games that include RNGs, such as card or RPG games where only a finite number of variables exist within the RNG. Experienced gamers have been known to be able to achieve the perfect Pokemon character and even trick the RNG into dishing out rare items to accelerate gameplay in titles like Final Fantasy.
Another aspect of online video gaming where RNGs make sense is the issue of ‘loot drops’. In a growing number of video games, players are rewarded for their gameplay and efforts to complete a level or stage with a randomised gift. These in-game items can be used to better equip characters and progress in-game narratives. These features are usually picked at random using an RNG. Even classic fighting, beat’em up games have RNGs embedded to decide which special moves computer-controlled opponents will attempt next.
Why some video gamers despise the use of RNGs
When you play combative games like CS:GO or DOTA 2, the addition of randomness is an instant turn-off for many. Take a peek into the world of eSports, which attracts significant investment from major brands like Mercedes, with professional leagues of gamers competing in games such as CS:GO and DOTA 2. If aspects of gameplay were defined by a RNG, it would make it very difficult for eSports teams to develop winning strategies in the knowledge that chance occurrences could leave them hamstrung in the white heat of battle.
In DOTA 2, there is a lot of RNG for eSports gamers to negotiate. Whether it’s rune spawn locations, crits, evasions or bashes, these all add an interesting dynamic for players. So long as the games are allowed to flow and balance out the RNG, allowing gamers’ skill to come to the fore, then players can have few complaints. Red Bull discussed Hearthstone’s RNG relationship and how this turn-based card game has leant heavily on random chance, even in its competitive gaming environments.
RNGs: Yay or Nay?
For sure, some competitive gamers would love it if RNGs were banished to the history books. But do you know what? The gaming ecosystem would be poorer for it. Without the concept of RNGs, competitive gaming could become exceptionally predictable. Gaming needs unpredictability. Gamers that learn to love and live with RNGs will be more adaptable and successful in deploying their skills to any outcome they face.