Tuesday, August 2, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 Day 1: On dice

I am joining the RPG a Day Challenge! A disclaimer: While I will aim to answer the daily questions, I will likely segue into other topics a lot. Haha! On to the first question. (I need to catch up.)

Real dice, dice app, diceless, how do you prefer to roll?

An interesting thing about a lot of random number generators is that it is only pseudo-random. They only seem random, and if you're really motivated you can probably reasonably predict what numbers will come up. On the other hand, many dice will also feature biases, as they are not as centered as we want it to be, can have rounded edges due to multiple use, and other irregularities. (I have a d20 that favors 20s and 1s! It's kind of cool for those make or break moments.) That is, if true randomness is your thing, then both approaches will have issues with it.

So in the end, it all really boils down to which RNG you are more comfortable with. As a geek who had his start in TCGs (Magic: the Gathering for me), the idea of using cards to determine probabilities appeal to me. I like it as an actuarial professional as well, since the hypergeometric model of sampling without replacement is a good way of modeling the idea of drawing cards from a stack and as such I find it intriguing.

But currently, my preferred method would still be the good ol' dice. They have the tactile element, the suspense element as it rolls and settles onto a number, and you know. They're just geek bling. So yeah, dice for me.

To me, this slides nicely into a discussion about technology. Dice apps are good, but you just can't feel them, man. But interestingly I've had discussions with people studying Human-Machine Interaction, and the current crop of students in this field come from that same generation that used to love blowing on the Nintendo cartridge to magically make it work, they were the ones who played a lot of video games growing up but also enjoyed playing in the streets. and yes. These are the kids who liked to play Dungeons and Dragons, roll dice and fiddle with lead miniatures. Currently phones and tablets just lose out on the tactile experiences of our childhood.

Currently students want that same tactile experiences to be integrated to current tech. We indeed live in exciting times.