What is RNG?
The first step in understanding what RNG is, is knowing what it stands for. The acronym RNG simply means random number generator. A random number generator can be an algorithm or device that generates numbers randomly. However, creating an algorithm that creates truly random numbers is quite tricky. Especially since computers were created to follow instructions, which makes it hard for them to simply create a random number. This then leads one to the question: How does a random number generator work?
How does it work?
As mentioned above, in order for a computer to generate a truly random number, a physical device (called a hardware random number generator) has to be used. This hardware random number generator relies on small physical processes (such as electronic noises) to come up with random numbers. The outcome is deemed truly random because no person can predict or is aware of what physical processes are being used.
Where is it used?
RNG based on physical processes are commonly used in security systems in the form of encryption. If for example someone was able to figure out how the system generates the random numbers for an encryption protocol, we would have a big problem on our hands. In addition to security, RNG is also used for gaming and gambling.
RNG in Video Games
For video game RNG, players who might be able to predict the sequence of random numbers are not that big of a concern. In fact, for faster and easier random number generation, games often use pseudorandom number generation.
Think of pseudorandom number generation as a mathematical formula. This mathematical formula uses a starting value (also called a seed) to come up with a random sequence of numbers. To get different random numbers every time the seed has to be random as possible.
From the definition of pseudorandom number generation it is clear that this process could not possibly produce truly random numbers, as every time the same seed is used it will produce the same result. However, this seems to be good enough for video game developers.
How is RNG used in video games?
From start to finish, RNG has quite the influence on game development and play. One of RNG’s applications during the game development stage is procedural generation. Procedural generation is a popular trend in gaming and refers to the use of an algorithm to create game content. Each different seed value creates an unique world, which means that every player has a different experience. However, game developers do add some restrictions to ensure that worlds are not created completely randomly, e.g. random pieces of land floating in space.
RNG is also used in many games to figure out what the odds are of a certain event happening. This is quite popular in role-playing games (RPGs). For example, when playing Pokémon, RNG will determine when you battle and which creatures you fight.
During gameplay, RNG determines the rewards players get. Each time a player defeats the enemy or opens a treasure chest, they receive a different reward. However, to keep the game balanced rewards are not entirely awarded at random. Game developers put systems in place to prevent players from getting the best prize in their first treasure chest. Each game handles this differently. This could be based on player level or the amount of points you have.
Based on the above function of RNG, gambling acts such as shuffling cards, flipping a coin or rolling a dice could also constitute as random number generation. One thing all these methods have in common is the fact that they are all physical and hard to replicate in software RNG. This is why physical RNG systems were created.
How Is RNG Used In Gambling?
Many casino games (such as slots) are based solely or mostly on luck. To ensure that any of these games are fair RNG needs to be able to produce a sequence of totally random numbers. these random numbers ensure that each and every result is different.
Is RNG the Same as a Lottery Number Generator?
Since Lotto draws are also random and a form of gambling, this is a question that often comes up when thinking about RNG in casino games. While Lotto draws and RNGs are both based on randomness, the randomness in Lotto draws is achieved mechanically. Physical properties of the Lottery drum determine which number will be drawn next. With casino RNG, software runs in the background while you are playing. In the case of the lottery, the physical properties of the lottery drum determine what number will be drawn next. The lottery thus produces truly random numbers.
Casino RNG Certificates
To ensure fairness reputable casinos always test their RNG systems. These tests will provide proof of fairness. While this can be done by a number of external agencies, some casinos have a RNG developed in-house that can be tested by their own staff. For the best player experience players should opt for a casino with RNG certificates.
Can RNG be Manipulated?
As mentioned before, the RNGs used in video games are not entirely random. Game developers have the ability to place restrictions on the level of randomness. On top of this results can be reproduced if the same seed is used. Since these are only video games, game developers do not worry about this that much, as there is not really too much at stake. Say for example you are playing a video game where the rewards from a completed battle are determined by your actions during the battle. If this is the case then every time you fight the same enemy using the same moves, you would be guaranteed the same rewards. Similarly, if you are aware of this you can adjust your moves to increase rewards. These pseudorandom number generators that determine randomness using mathematical formulas can allow players to predict the next number in the sequence, provided that they know the seed value.
However, when RNG is used in casino games and for security purposes it needs to be truly random. To achieve this type of true randomness machines usually rely on physical devices that use physical properties to generate a sequence of random numbers. True RNG can thus not be manipulated since the number generation depends on an ever-changing physical property.
Understanding RNG’s Role in Gaming
This article has looked at what RNG is, why it is used, as well as how it is applied to video games and casino games. Hopefully this leaves you with a better understanding of the role that RNG plays in the games that we enjoy on a daily basis.
To conclude, a Random Number Generator produces a set of random numbers through use of either a mathematical formula or a physical device. While a mathematical formula RNG can be somewhat manipulated, a physical device RNG produces truly random numbers that are hard (hopefully impossible) to predict.