The God of Random Numbers is real, and he's in your house right now, sniffing all your dice. If you don't pray to him, you'll never see a natural 20 again, and all of your card decks will be stacked against you for the rest of time.
Or... RNG is exactly what it sounds like. Random. Mashing B, or A, or whatever button you fancy when the Poké Ball is tick-tocking to one side and another isn't going to influence the outcome in any way. It's a placebo, a meaningless ritual that keeps you busy while waiting for the game to arbitrarily decide the result.
Ooooorrr... it's somewhere in-between. Perhaps you don't believe in some kind of deity that oversees random outcomes, but all the same, you carry out those rituals just in case.
That's where I find myself. I'm not a particularly spiritual being, but I have a few nonsense superstitions all the same. I never tell anyone what I wish for on fountain-thrown coins or snuffed-out birthday candles, unless the wish has already come true. I also began wishing whenever the clock struck 11:11 as a teenager, which evolved into having to be sure to see the time change to 11:12, lest the wish not be counted. I don't care about black cats and ladders, or leaving shoes on the table, but I pick up every penny I see on the floor, germs be damned. One time, when I was a teenager, someone told me it was unlucky to walk over three drain covers in a row (why?) and now I feel weird whenever I do it, so I try not to.
And so, yes, I have silly little gaming rituals, too. The Poké Ball one was a particular favourite of mine, but Poké Balls have since evolved to not really need the button-mashing technique any more, since they're much faster and cheaper. When I'm diamond-hunting in Minecraft, I throw all tried-and-tested methods out the window in favour of intuition. In Stardew Valley, I dutifully hoe empty patches of land, convinced that any one of them might secretly hide a treasure trove of the exact material I'm looking for, and I make sure to wear the tiara so that any potentially-watching God of Random Numbers will see that I am deserving of fortune.
We're not alone in these silly little rituals. A psychological experiment done by B. F. Skinner — inventor of the Skinner Box, or the operant conditioning chamber — tested superstition in pigeons, which provided the birds with food at regular intervals. This had the effect of inducing what appeared to be superstitious behaviour in the hungry creatures, who would perform whatever action they were doing when the food first appeared in the hope that it would work again.
"One bird was conditioned to turn counter-clockwise about the cage, making two or three turns between reinforcements. Another repeatedly thrust its head into one of the upper corners of the cage. A third developed a 'tossing' response, as if placing its head beneath an invisible bar and lifting it repeatedly.
Two birds developed a pendulum motion of the head and body, in which the head was extended forward and swung from right to left with a sharp movement followed by a somewhat slower return."
Of course, that makes no sense. The food was delivered whether or not the pigeons did their little rituals. But we can't really judge them — even though we've performed that little Poké Ball button-mashing ritual hundreds of times and it hasn't worked, we still do it, don't we? Somehow we're convinced that maybe we just didn't execute it properly that time, and it can't possibly be true randomness.
Whatever you think about rituals, we all have them in one way or another. Perhaps we don't even realise it, or think about them too deeply. I like to have a cup of tea every morning, and if I forget, I end up feeling really grumpy for reasons I can't quite figure out, even though I've done this every day for at least 10 to 15 years. Some people can't bring themselves to wear mismatched socks, or wear underwear that says the wrong day on it (does day of the week underwear still exist, even?). My partner falls asleep every night while watching videos about old-timey computers (the channel is literally called that, don't come for me), and at this point, can't sleep without them.
Whether the rituals make a change or not, they're part of being human (and, apparently, pigeon) — they're a pattern that soothes our chaotic, anxious monkey brains. They make us feel safe and grounded, like we have some kind of control over... well, anything. Maybe they don't change the actual numbers, and maybe the God of Random Numbers is looking down at us and laughing at the futility of our actions, but I find myself being glad I at least tried to make a difference all the same.
Do you have gaming rituals and superstitions? Do you have any proof they work, or do you just like doing them? Tell us in the comments!
One of my favorite gaming rituals is picking up Animal Crossing every other month and immediately quitting after 5 minutes because I have a life I need to live.
Of course, the problem then becomes that if they're not powering success, what are our little beliefs and superstitions becoming? Verruca Gnomes?
My personal gaming superstition sort of stems from another. I've never really been a big believer of the whole 'pressing the B Button makes it easier to catch Pokemon' in playing through a Pokemon game, yet I've always thought that switching the Poke Ball you're currently using to a different one increases the odds of catching a mon on that specific throw drastically. Does it actually do anything? Probably not, but I've held onto it ever since playing Black for the first time as a child and I sure as hell ain't changing it anytime soon XD
Never save once.
@Fizza haha same! I used to think I could psyche a Pokémon out by luring it into a false sense of security with the same type of Pokeball over and over, and then 'surprise' it with a different type to increase the capture rate 🤣
Wow those dice look awesome, super slick
I'd like to know what ritual I need to perform to guarantee a Nintendo Direct to happen in 3 days
You will never be able to convince me that the game will save on any less than five attempts.
@Axecon Probably make a summoning circle of Direct announcement images would be my guess.
@TheAmazingMisterFox How do you sleep at night.
@blindsquarel At least it's not me. I feel a fool sometimes saving once in my main slot and then once in a second slot and a third time AGAIN in the main save slot...just to be sure.
I can't think of any particular superstitions I have for gaming because fundamentally I'm just playing a game for fun; I don't actually care if I do well so I don't need to trick reality into making me do better.
However, I do have one ritual. Every time I boot up super mario maker 2, I play one endless easy level. Not with any particular goal in mind and those levels don't even count as a warmup; I just sort of do it.
Removed - unconstructive
Ive played Pokémon since Yellow first came out and and I still to this day hold up and B when I’ve thrown a poke ball.
I just do them sometimes because they make me feel lucky. Plus it’s fun to come up with your own sometimes. Has it worked? Heeeeeck no.
Say what you want about Sw/Sh (I personally enjoyed it), but something about how the music, rumble, cinematics, and the fact that there's an epic Pokémon at stake makes me super tense when I was doing raids.
Mine is I always act like im really rolling dice in mario party
@Fizza Yess! I always do this and I have gotten the best results in catching a mon, even if the ball is lesser, I just think if I use a different ball, the specific Pokémon might like it or something? Idk but I’m happy to see you mention it.
My superstition is to not jinx it by doing anything or even thinking about it. I've said too much already.
Dealing with RNG is all about giving yourself the best possible odds, sometimes you get lucky, sometimes not simple as that.
In a game like Fire Emblem I see a lot of people complaining about the times when they got killed by a 15% hit rate attack or whatever, then on the same not complaining when they miss an 80% hit rate attack, people always like to focus on the "oddities", because those are what you remember, when everything goes at it is "supposed to" people don't make note of that.
Though in Pokemon I still firmly believe that pressing Up and B in rhythm with the Pokeball shaking as you're catching Pokemon increases your odds of a succesful catch, I will never let that one go.
I may not be superstitious, but I am a little stitious.
Saving your game is never a bad idea. Every time you'll save, save twice, maybe three times, just to be sure. And if auto save is enabled, why not save manually too, just in case?
This is the way
I always check EVERY SINGLE TILE in Metroid games. You can just never be certain there’s no secrets hidden under a block..
The Legend of Zelda, specifically ALttP has made me very superstitious of cuccoes/chickens in any games. Never mistreat/disrespect the chicken! Bad things happen...
Also RPGs and Kid Icarus Uprising have made me superstitious of treasure chests that look to good to be true. I always hit them with a projectile before opening.
Additionally Pokemon and other rpgs have taught me to horde items in fear that I won't find another one. I was always the weirdo that never used rare candy.
In fire emblem, until one of the more recent games (i think it was valentia) I would always max out a character before upgrading/reclassing because I thought it mattered.
Removed - inappropriate
I remember the specific first time I ever heard a of the PokéBall trick, and in that case it was holding down and B from the moment the ball closed in Yellow version. I was doubtful at the time because it didn't seem to help me in catching Moltres right then and there, but it was a case of Pascals Wager: if there's any chance it might be real, you've got everything to gain and nothing to lose by pretending. So despite knowing that it's completely baseless, it's become a habitual thing in every Pokémon game since. I don't even think about it. It just happens, and I have to make an active effort NOT to hold down and B.
@Kirbysonic yess! “Oh, you’ve learned how to escape an Ultra Ball? Well, hah! Poke Ball, go!” Easy catch.🤣
I’ve never mashed any buttons to help a Poke Ball be successful, but when I was playing Sw/Sh I would press ZR twice every time it shook. I eventually started wondering if the game could somehow sense that I was doing it, and failing my captures because of it. Now, I just throw the Poke Ball, look away, and pretend I don’t care. Matching the Pokémon’s color with the Poke Ball also seems to work.😂
Holding A down to do more damage in Pokémon. I’ve heard it’s not true but it’s never let me down.
I always hold Up and B as soon as the Pokeball hits the pokemon in every mainline Pokemon game.
When I was a kid, we could not buy a new game, until we could prove that we had beaten the last game that our parents bought...
This taught me the importance of teamwork, saving progress, and finishing whatever I start. I'm now 40 years old, and have never really had a "backlog".
I have a real crazy one: Whenever I play an RPG I always make sure to rotate my party members regularly. Not for strategic or gameplay reasons, but because I feel it would hurt their feelings if I don't use them enough. Even though it doesn't matter, even though I know these characters are just code at the end of the day and don't have real feelings, I still do it.
I actually know about that button-mashing ritual for Pokémon. I admit, I would do it, too, even though I know it's not true. I also heard that, in Diamond & Pearl, if you yelled "Gotcha!" into the DS microphone, it would be more likely to catch the Pokémon. That, too, is just a rumor, and not actually true.
I occasionally save more than once, better safe than sorry.
I slaughter a cow before playing Mario Kart
@Mrkittyhead lol I'd almost forgotten about the 'pretend not to care' ritual; I do that as well 😂 so many Pokémon related superstitions!
Mine is the pokeball. I press a as the ball shakes. Also just begging rng out loud hoping my fire emblem unit gets lucky.
Ok this really shows my age, but as a kid me and my cousins used to play on a spectrum zx. You had to load the games from cassette and frequently they’d fail to load and you’d have to start again. The best way to drastically improve the odds of the game loading was to say ‘it’s not going to load… definitely not loading’ while waiting for it to load…
Of course this was replaced a couple of years later with blowing on nes cartridges to get them to load
@Deemo37 ohh, yes! In Fates, I would go into slow motion just before my unit was attacked so they could dodge in time.😂 I swear it worked.
@Fizza i can’t sleep if I don’t save at least twice. It’s just asking for trouble.
@John_Deacon @blindsquarel This is the way.
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