My Perspective on Luck - In Gaming and In Life

Luck is something that has come up in conversation multiple times over the last few weeks. Not only here at LAN Mob, but in everyday life. My mother calls me "the unluckiest person I've ever known", which is pretty funny, even though it's pretty sad. The dictionary definition of luck is; "a combination of circumstances, events, etc, operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person." When it comes to the concept of luck, people generally function under the belief that one can be bestowed with "luck", whether it be good or bad, and that the universe is working with or against you. So basically my mom is saying that in her perspective, through no fault of my own, the universe is working against me. Eek.                       

Anyone that has known me for an extended period of time knows that I generally scoff at the term "luck." If I chose to believe in luck, or completely random actions, I think I would immediately fall into a mental slump. I'd find it incredibly hard to have the ambition or drive to accomplish anything if it all came down to how the universe felt about me that day. Now, I'm not saying you are in control of your surroundings, I simply believe that in most cases you and the people you share this small earth with actively make choices that snowball and create situations. For example, if I was to run outside right now, and attempt to cross the road, there could be an incredibly reckless driver that hits me. Would that make me unlucky? I don't think so. It would be the result of my decision to go in the road, and the driver's decision to drive in the way he was. On the contrary, if the driver slammed on his brakes and I was unharmed, would I be lucky? I don't believe so, it was simply another decision made by somebody to change the series of events happening around them. A good example of a situation that transcends basic decision making is the weather. If it just so happens to rain on the day you planned to go out on a run, you aren't unlucky, it is a simple lack of information. When you planned the run, you were betting on it NOT raining, which is functioning with a lack of information. Misinformation is something we can work on, but as the human race we are simply under-equipped to function in a world where we can predict everything. Devastating forces of nature like tornadoes and hurricanes are terrifying and unfortunate, and if I had the misfortune of losing something to a force so powerful, the last thing I would personally want to believe is that it was random.

When discussing the concept of luck, it's really easy to split hairs and enter realms of deeper conversations, like religions and belief systems. Some people disprove "luck" by relating things to the higher power they believe in. I think it's beautiful to believe in something higher than yourself to an extent, and if somebody believes their "bad luck" is the will of their god, karma or a test of their will, they have a way to explain the events of misfortune without relying on "it happened because I am unlucky." It just feels like an empty excuse to me.

Relating "luck" to video games is probably one of the funniest things in my life. I can't help but crack a smile when you hear somebody shout "WHAT A LUCKY SHOT!" in a game of CoD, or in the shame of defeat accusing the victor of simply being lucky. That literally makes absolutely no sense. I think when people say stuff like that they are focusing in on intention. My first example is Hanzo's arrow in Overwatch. If he is firing blindly in a direction and you run into the arrow, it's easiest to say the Hanzo player got lucky and his slain opponent was unlucky. In reality, Hanzo's target simply ran into an arrow, intent or no intent. There are parallels like this in almost every game. Fighting games are a really good example, with almost no RNG (I will explain this later) it comes down to simply man on man. There are things you can do to lean success in your favor, like picking a character that is all around better then another, playing a certain style or even using mind games to manipulate your opponent but none of this is out of the player's control. It's almost so laughable that the meme "never lucky" is a sarcastic backlash at people who use luck to explain why they lost the game. I'll be the first to admit I have raged at games before (I'm going to front run a Little Mac, Cloud and Mario hatred fan club) but I lost on my own volition, never because my opponent got lucky. I was simply out played, whether it is due to match-up, focus, mind games or simply being worse than my opponent. I refuse to accept I can lose due to "a combination of circumstances, events, etc, operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person." What would be the point of even trying? Even in a heavy RNG game like Hearthstone, the best players build decks with RNG taken into account to maximize possibilities. However, this quickly becomes a grey area due to RNG.

RNG, a.k.a, Random Number Generation is defined as "a computational or physical device designed to generate a sequence of numbers or symbols that cannot be reasonably predicted better than by random chance". Obviously I cannot disprove RNG, it is a statistical evaluation of the unpredictable. I think RNG is the truest form of "luck" in the sense that RNG is absolute. If I was to flip a coin in a fair environment there is no way for me to accurately predict what the resolution will be besides guessing. On the subject of luck, Bossman said he believes that one can put themselves into situations where they can become lucky or unlucky, and that goes pretty hand in hand with my first point of decision making. When it comes to RNG, if you are to simply guess heads or tails with absolutely no reasoning, it seems you have put yourself in a situation where you have the potential for both. There's not really a good decision, you are left up to a mathematical formula that will end a completely random way.

                                    X_{n+1} = (a X_n + b)\, \textrm{mod}\, m
Spooky Math!!

RNG shows up in a lot of video games like Rogue Likes, (Binding of Isaac, Risk of Rain, Enter the Gungeon, etc, etc) Card Games (Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone, etc.) and even Mario Kart to an extent. At the risk of splitting hairs,  RNG is based off of possibility through math. I don't believe somebody can be lucky or unlucky they can simply make a decision with no information and end up correct. I think there are situations and thought processes that go along with blind guessing, but I obviously cannot prove anything. All I can say about RNG is if you're making major decisions off of a mathematical system of chance, you're putting yourself in a situation where you are likely to fail (THROUGH MATH). On the contrary, you can flip a coin 10 times and get 10 heads. It's pretty eerie actually. I asked 2 of the wisest people I know what they personally believe when it comes to this. One responded that it is unwittingly being in the right place at the right time. He related it to unknown karma and cause and effect. The second stated that he believes heavily in karma. In his own words, "You will be rewarded for your good deeds, and punished for your bad deeds, in one form or another." Obviously neither of these beliefs defeat the RNG beast on paper, but simply believing in something is an immeasurable strength that I see strong value in.

Overall, just like anything else in this world, people have the beautiful choice of believing in anything they want to. If you believe in luck and I offended you, my bad! I just can't do it. I believe things happen for a reason, not random circumstance. This is a little different from our usual posts but with the release of Pokemon GO, Overwatch and even League of Legends, I just needed to spew some of my beliefs when it comes to luck. My mom says I'm the unluckiest person in the world, but I don't want to believe that. I simply believe people actively make harmful or misinformed decisions towards people, I believe in sad truths like disease and injury and most importantly I believe in our ability to deal with the bad as well as we deal with the good, as hard as it may be. 

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