Skewed random complaint

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Skewed random - A common complaint from players in Godville that gameplay mechanics are somehow biased against them. It also covers complaints that certain elements in the game can give others unfair advantages. Despite being told by administrators that this is not the case, most people still believe that the 'random is skewed'. Is the random skewed and if not, why are people so attached to the belief that it is?

Is the Random Skewed?

Common Complaints

  • people who buy charges are at an advantage
  • punishment influences are less likely to backfire than encouragement ones
  • my influences always backfire and my opponent's don't

In actual fact, all events in Godville are equiprobable. People who believe that the random is skewed usually have not read this article. As it explains the probabilities of influences, you now have an idea of how things work; it explained how tiny probabilities have a significant impact on a large sample size. These probabilities are the same for everyone. We can now say that the random is not skewed in that respect at least. This has dealt with the second complaint above.

I'm still not Convinced...

The third complaint is in many ways an extension of the second, and more often than not stems from a long run of bad luck. People with this complaint usually complain on the forum. The fact that the forum is not overrun with such complaints shows us that it probably only bothers a few players. It is clear that most players don't have these problems, looking at the pantheon of gladiatorship. Is the random only skewed for these particular players then? The fact is, when you have such a large sample size (all the players in Godville), it is certain that there will be those unlucky few who get long streaks of misfortune. Without the players who lose, there cannot be the players who win. These unfortunate players could never do anything about their chances because they started with the same chances as everyone else. To put it a different way, if you rolled a dice and got the lowest number ten times in a row, would you say that the dice is biased? So many people in the world roll dices all the time that it is inevitable that such an event will occur.

What about players who buy lots of charges?

Now we shall deal with the first and foremost complaint. At first you may wonder what this has to do with probability. The idea is that players who buy loads of charges are able to use more influences in the arena. This surely gives paying players an advantage but the administrators say that it does not alter the chances of winning too much and there have been many forum debates over the matter. It is known that influences have 1/4 chance of backfiring. Nothing can change this. The question is, would this backfiring be enough to regain the randomness of the duel outcome if spread over a large enough sample size of influence uses. In other words, when somebody uses enough influences, does the increasing number of backfires that occur benefit the other player enough for their chances of winning to no longer be jeopardized?

The answer is no. Players who buy charges actually have a great advantage because using many more influences than the other player will benefit the opponent sometimes, but in the end will leave the paying player WAY ahead because the probability of backfire is too small for it to be otherwise. It is practically impossible to use four more punishes than your opponent, because they would be dead before you had the chance, even allowing for backfires. In the early days of the arena, certain strategies could defeat a paying player but this is rarely the case anymore as things have changed. This is not an article on arena strategies though so you'll have to browse the forum for more information.

In this respect, the random is skewed in favour of paying players. However,even in a duel between two non-paying players, the random would still be skewed: in favour of the more active, more strategic player. Although, the administrators say that the 'random' decides the outcome of a duel, this is only really ever true for duels between the heroes of two inactive players.

Why does the random appear to be skewed if it isn't?

You're in a busy supermarket, standing in a slow-moving queue drifting towards the checkout more slowly than a sleepy snail. Time stretches into infinity. You look around at the other queues. They are speeding along nicely, what if you were to join one of these queues? Hastily, you move into one of these queues only to find yourself back where you started. The whole queue grounds to a halt and the one you were in before accelerates until it reaches the same speed as the others. What is going on? Are you cursed? More importantly, what does this have to do with anything?

One of the more common 'skewed random' complaints is that heroes with an evil personality are less likely to have influences from their gods backfire. 'Benevolent god' players often change to 'evil' just to investigate this, only to find themselves thinking the opposite this time round. The same is also true of influences: some claim that encouragement is more likely to fail than punishment. As discussed above, we already know what the reality is and true to the things discussed above, many players eventually conclude that personality of heroes is no help, neither do they find any advantage in using punishment over encouragement after having tried both many times. It all depends on the sample size. So, this is the situation, and the supermarket parable above bears the same curiosity. Why does the random always appear to be skewed, why are we so predisposed to thinking that the world is out to get us?

We humans have upgraded our civilization faster than our brains have had the chance to evolve to cope with it. As a result, our brains our very prone to making false assumptions, for example, the imaginary triangle optical illusion. These assumptions made by the brain have a wider-reaching name well known to psychologists: naive science. It is known that what we are actually doing in the shopping queues is comparing the length of the other queues to the speed of ours which is not a correct comparison to make. This means that even if our queue is going faster than the others, we will still perceive the others to be speeding ahead of ours. What about in our Godville example? Our ideas about good and evil as well as what we have been told about heroes healing faster when they are kind etc. influence us subconsciously. It is also no coincidence that nobody ever complains about the random being skewed in their favor. When we get 'bad luck', we get frustrated and must come up with a reason for what has happened. The brain cannot accept the idea of randomness and must always look for order in the chaos (an example would be people hearing voices in the static produced by recording the sound in an empty room) and we therefore blame the game since such a run of bad luck 'could not possibly be a result of randomness' although it really is. The very concept of a 'run' of bad luck comes from us seeing patterns where there are none existing.