Random Number Generators (RNGs) are common in today’s video games. They serve many purposes, such as determining in-game events and enhancing gameplay by introducing uniqueness into each gaming session. However, including RNG has also sparked debates among gamers, with some arguing that it makes games too predictable and less enjoyable.

Nevertheless, it’s essential to recognize that RNG is a fundamental component of good video games. It plays a vital role in determining aspects like the loot dropped by defeated enemies, the damage inflicted by attacks, and even the specific items obtained, as seen in games like Mario Kart. Additionally, RNG is responsible for selecting characters from a pool, continuously spawning random enemies, and simulating dice rolls to produce unpredictable outcomes. So, what’s the deal with RNG, and how does it impact the overall gaming experience?  

Which Games Use RNG?

Despite popular belief, not all video games rely on RNG for gameplay mechanics. For example, rhythm games Just Dance Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution focus on timing and skill, so they don’t need randomness.

It is worth mentioning that not all competitive games remove Random Number Generation (RNG). For instance, games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive use RNG to determine the accuracy of bullet hits. Similarly, in DOTA 2, RNG is responsible for the frequency and effectiveness of abilities used on opponents. This inclusion of randomness in the game adds an unpredictable aspect to the gameplay.

Another aspect of gaming where RNGs are indispensable is in online casino games. The random number generators at online casinos are responsible for the mechanics behind slots, roulette, blackjack, and just about every title besides live dealer games.

The Balance Between Keeping Games Fresh and Undermining Skill

Randomness is a crucial factor in making games captivating and unforeseeable. It promotes inquisitiveness and introduces risk, playing a vital role in sustaining the novelty of a game.

Let’s take the example of the classic game of Tetris. The choice of each block is random. Without this randomness, Tetris would lose its thrill and unpredictability. It would no longer be a game of quick thinking and adaptability but rather a mere exercise in memorization, similar to reciting the digits of Pi.


However, the dispute around RNG is most evident in competitive games like Hearthstone. This kind of game is based more on risk mechanics than skill (unlike a game like Mortal Kombat), and the role of the Random Number Generator is crucial in determining the result. It’s precisely these games where chance can overshadow skill because a beginner who gets good cards can defeat a much more experienced player who is simply unlucky in that given session.

With this picture in mind, it’s easy to understand why introducing randomness into competitive gaming (like CS: GO or Dota) can lead to frustration. Sometimes, players may think losing a game due to random factors is unfair. For example, imagine if a game like chess, which is based on strategy and skill, suddenly had random power-ups added to it. This could be seen as going against the very essence of chess and taking away from its strategic purity. In such situations, players often blame their losses on luck or “RNG” being in their opponent’s favor instead of their strategic choices or gameplay skills. This can cause dissatisfaction and the belief that the game’s outcome was not in their control.

Can RNGs be Manipulated?

Random Number Generators (RNGs) are algorithms designed to produce random values.


However, traditional mathematical calculations always yield a constant result. To generate truly random values, an algorithm must incorporate variables such as ‘X’ or ‘Y.’

In video games, RNGs source these variables from dynamic, local values within the gaming environment. For instance, a game might use the console’s internal clock as a variable. Other possible sources of variables include the number of objects displayed on the screen at any given moment, the name of the player’s character, or even the specific sequence of buttons pressed by the player since the game started.

There are numerous methods by which a computer can create random numbers, each leveraging different aspects of the gaming environment to introduce variability and randomness into the game’s mechanics. Due to this functionality, it’s impossible to manipulate modern RNGs – especially when talking about competitive gaming. However, older games like classic RPGs (Pokemon, Fire Emblem -The Blazing Blade, etc) are subject to RNG manipulation.

Final Thoughts

RNG is vital in maintaining the unpredictability and freshness of many video games that entertain millions of gamers. Just imagine a game of Minecraft where the world is identical or Diablo loots that were the same for every playthrough.

Different competitive gamers have varying opinions on RNG. Some believe that RNG can take away from the skill element of gaming. However, games intended for the esports community often prioritize skill-based mechanics, which aligns with the preference of competitive players for games where outcomes are determined mainly by player skill rather than by chance.