How to Create a Game of Chance

by Samuel Hamilton

Games of chance have enthralled humans for millennia. Fundamentally, a game of chance involves some unpredictable, and seemingly random, occurrence, whether natural or manufactured. Players compete against each other to either replicate or accurately guess for or against that random occurrence. Creating a game of chance requires you to locate such an unpredictable occurrence and establish a competitive structure around it.

Step 1

Select an odds-manufacturing mechanism. This can be any device that, when activated, will generate an unpredictable result. For example, classic games of chance involve mechanisms such as six-sided dice or coins. When rolled, a six-sided die will land on an unpredictable number between one and six. When flipped, a coin will unpredictably result in heads or tails.

Step 2

Choose the number of rounds your game will have. If the game is played individually, the rounds total can be any number, odd or even. If playing against an opponent or team of opponents, the rounds should be an odd number so there will always be a winner. For example, a single game of chance results in just one winner. A three-round game of chance ends when a team accumulates a majority of rounds, two. If playing a game in which multiple teams compete against each other, you can institute an elimination element to each of the rounds of the game. For example, if simply flipping a coin, the person whose flip is not like the other two players will be eliminated in the first round. Then the remaining players play against each other in the second round.

Step 3

Establish a scoring system. This can be as simple as giving a player one point for each round won, or as complicated as awarding players points based on the unpredictable result manufactured by the game's mechanism. For example, a best-of-three-round coin-flip game between two people could award each correct response with a single point such that the winner of the game is the individual who accumulates two points. Or, the scoring system can be complicated by adding additional scoring rules. For example, a best-of-three-round coin-flip game between two people could award each correct "heads" call with two points and each correct "tails" call with three points. The winner, therefore, could have four, five or six points total.

Step 4

Agree upon rewards and consequences. In many games of chance, rewards and consequences are thought of in terms of betting. For example, players place a bet on the likelihood they will win the game of chance. If they win, they get the bet back as well as an amount equivalent to that amount because they won. Similarly, if they lose, they give their bet to the winning player.

Tips & Warnings

• Establish consequences for cheating prior to playing the first game. These can range from immediate disqualification to point sacrifice or compensation. For example, if caught cheating in a game where bets are placed, the cheating player could add an additional sum to the betting pool.

References

• "Designing Experiments and Games of Chance: The Unconventional Science of Blaise Pascal"; William R. Shea; 2008