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View, browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, pass type, topic, and format. With this Session Viewer, you can view GDC 2023 session details and speakers, and share your favorites via social media. You will be able to build your schedule and access it during the show via export or Mobile App, once live. Sessions do fill up and seating is first come, first serve, so arrive early to sessions that you would like to attend.

Cards, Dice, and RNGs: Using Randomness Intentionally

Randy Smith  (Game Designer, Waves All Day)

Location: Room 3007, West Hall

Date: Thursday, March 23

Time: 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Design

Format: Lecture

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

Randomness is a ubiquitous design tool, and one that can make and break gameplay in confounding ways. But even among the best designers, there is a tendency to apply it without proper care or to run up against the limits of a hazy memory of probability math.

This presentation provides a formal toolkit and a practical framework for making day-to-day design decisions about how, when, and why to use which randomization mechanics, gleaned from the best and worst examples from digital and tabletop gaming.

Designers are empowered to keep their designs on track, apply randomness with intention towards specific goals, empower their players to manage randomness, and notice, diagnose and fix problems when they arise.


Attendees receive a formal toolkit and practical framework which includes pitfalls, principles, best practices, and clever tips and tricks to inform their day-to-day design decisions about how, when, and why to use which randomization mechanics. There is a survey of game mechanics and a refresher on essential probability math.

Intended Audience

This is for video game, tabletop or hybrid designers who use randomness anywhere in their designs: virtual cards, up-front dice rolls or behind-the-scenes random numbers, from deck-building to procedural generation. Attendees should understand basic probability and have some familiarity with modern mechanics involving dice, cards, and similar.