Are some games more about luck than skill?


Racing sims

Simulation racers are bound by an extremely precise set of rules. With the assists switched off, anyone relying on luck is going to end up in the barrier faster than you can say "auto-brake fail".

In fact, bar a welcome corrective tap from another car keeping you on the track as you slide from it, there's no way lady luck will show her face, let alone a glimpse of ankle.




With the linear nature of most platformers, there isn't much scope for luck. The game designer can guess where you'll be at any given moment and know how fast you're likely to be moving, and throw in an enemy to catch you off-guard.

Above: Bad luck? Bad game design? GR's Dave H reckons the latter

Of course, some enemies have cycles of attack, so you could 'get lucky' and encounter them during their docile phase. You could also get knocked off a platform and land on one you didn't know was there. But... it's not like it happens all the time. And with Super Mario Galaxy's purple coin challenges, there's just no way you can do them all relying on luck. And then there's Mega Man.


Third-person actioners

Ironically, the degree of skill you need in a game like Bayonetta is linked directly to how much skill you have. It's easy enough in most third-person actioners to spam the attack button when you're near an enemy. This will grant you moderate success in Bayonetta, Batman or God of War without much need for luck. Why? Because you usually give more damage than you receive. That's how button mashers progress - not through luck, but through probability.  

But what if you use skill? Ironically, that's when luck actually starts to come in. Once you start trying to play properly, you need to get lucky. Why? Because it's no longer about the ratio of attack damage. It's about being in the right place at the right time, choosing the right parry or evasion from the massively intricate moves list. Because trying to read a game like DMC3 or Bayonetta first time without trial and error is simply impossible.

Playing with skill requires lucky breaks right up until you know exactly how the game works, at which point it becomes a pretty even split between skill and memory.

Of course, all of the above is undone with the 'pervy factor' in Bayonetta. Put simply, the moves where she ends up nekkid are more powerful than the ones where she doesn't. So the more ladyflesh you try to see, the more success you'll have.

Now that's science.

07 Jan, 2010

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65 things that look like Pac-Man
The pie charts reminded us of this one


  • Azated - February 5, 2010 1:33 a.m.

    Nekkid damage FTW
  • linkganon - January 24, 2010 5:16 a.m.

    why do i always fight against campers and gang... oh this is probabally not acceptable here, nore anywhere. it gets me really frustrated when because of luck, they respawn right behind me for an instant headshot. course i have won the occasional award with the most headshots in a multiplayer online match and most frags (not overall, just in this specific match.) first person shooters could be revolutionalized by motion but since developers have a hard time working out all the bugs, all wii get is sloppy reflex which is call of duty 4 for 60 dollars when we can find them in the bin. lol @ the matrix reference and lol, just watched the matrix.
  • olliemcparland - January 15, 2010 10:25 p.m.

    haha lol that halo 3 betreyal so funny but that was just bad luckbut i am naturally good 2 fps like cod halo bad company ya know
  • noobeater - January 14, 2010 8:43 p.m.

    @rxb. package drops are pure NOOBISH
  • noobeater - January 14, 2010 8:41 p.m.

    lol at tetris
  • mfwahwah - January 10, 2010 10:52 p.m.

    Good good article. I'm bookmarking it to use those pie charts as reference in future arguments. You should have added RTS though to the mix, though. shuttles Extra
  • garPOW - January 10, 2010 1:45 a.m.

    personally I feel like a large part of online gaming on the Xbox 360 is your connection strength. largest transgressor, Gears of War. F that game
  • venomman01 - January 9, 2010 6:14 p.m.

    You forget the all mighty predator missile. It carries the power to kill any red square in its sight. Its pretty much bad luck if it goes for you
  • barryisgod1 - January 9, 2010 5:07 p.m.

    i am extreamly luckin in mw2 earllyer i got killed just as i got my nuke the i bluw up that mother map
  • sniper430 - January 8, 2010 8:06 p.m.

    I think there should be an amendment on this article regarding demons souls... fighting giant depraved ones IS pure luck, if they decide to spam it's absolutely impossible to kill them :( god i was stuck on that swamp forever :(
  • wolfwing187 - January 8, 2010 5:08 p.m.

    Honestly whenever I play a fps its skill. I dont rely on luck at all. Im good at stealth and finding a good hiding spot to snipe from after practicing a lot in Socom: Confrontation. The stealth experiance in gaming i have from MGS4. I agree that block puzzle games require a lot of luck. they do also require a bit of skill. Skill as in, knowing where to put the blocks and in what position.I noticed in the picture about the bejewled 2 game. I aslo saw it said something about bejewled blitz. I play that game a lot on facebook and that requires a lot of luck.....which i dont have. I love Tetris by the way. I know how much racing games are based on skill due to the amount of racing games ive played in recent years. exept for mario cart. some weapons in there are mainly based of of luck.i agree with DaveBoyle on that. I didnt get to see the halo vid because it wont work on my computer. I like the matrix picture edit. It's funny.
  • DriveShaft - January 8, 2010 4:08 p.m.

    Platforming games are 49% Luck, 50% memory and 1% skill.
  • rxb - January 8, 2010 1:48 p.m.

    Care drops in MW2 are pure luck.........
  • CH3BURASHKA - January 8, 2010 9:31 a.m.

    That tetris picture was hilarious. The matrix one took me a couple of seconds to get.
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - January 8, 2010 5:17 a.m.

    I felt that the start of every race in any Need for Speed game was about 75% luck.
  • ZombieAmmy - January 8, 2010 3:52 a.m.

    Is that a "looking around you" reference I spy in the pie chart of the Third-person actioners section?
  • Silvermech - January 8, 2010 2:44 a.m.

    Perv success? Yes.Inperv success? HELL TO THE NO! This is why I will fail at Bayonetta.
  • NinjaJamez - January 8, 2010 1:58 a.m.

    I've been playing ninja gaiden sigma lately and you need a lot of luck for the camera to not screw all you're doing.... especially when you are indoor...... great article as always
  • spacemonkey086 - January 8, 2010 1:51 a.m.

    lol @ the matrix reference.

Showing 1-20 of 39 comments

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