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Eeny, meeny, miny, moe (The Fake Randomness Study)
by Aaron Burton on 12/24/10 02:02:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


                      You may be wondering how is Eeny, meeny, miny, moe a gaming subject. Im wondering the same thing at this moment but i do think it can pay tribute to the gaming world at large. Before i went to sleep last night i was thinking why do kids Love hide and go seek so much. Theyre Eeny, meeny, miny, moe system is so broken its not even funny. If you start picking from the first person then thats who's going to be it. Do children know this? Even if they did that would mean hide and go seek in itself would be so amazing that it wouldn't matter who would have to be the seekeror hider.

                     I remember playing  those type of games when i was growing up and we did sort of catch on so we added an extra verse at the end to keep the illusion of randomness. It went like this.... Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a tiger by his toe, if he hollers let him go, eeny meeny, miny moe. (My mother told me to pick the very best one and you are not it).


Can this child like mechanic be applied to actual games concidering ots unbalanced picking system? I think it can. If a company makes a game for children they could definately add this mechanic. But an older audience demands a more structured system. Poker players would not be happy if the person who wins Eeny, meeny, miny, moe gets the pot lol. So maturity and sophistication definately matter.



I made a similar post on the rock paper scizor mechanic and I think we could do re arrang some things so our child like mechanic can be disguised in games. We would have to make the eeny meeny miny moe chain so long that players wouldn't be able to track the actual system unless they where the programmers that we personally hired.

According to wikipedia  Counting games" are often accepted as random selections because the number of words has not been calculated beforehand, so the result is unknown right up until someone is selected."

We can use this to our advantage. Without using a Dice mechanic we could just have a list starting with numbers from 1-50. The game would shuffle between what ever object with great speed so the player will lose track of where it started.

But we still have one problem. Where ever we start is going to be the same case every time. The player will eventually catch on.


If we had 20 objects and started counting from 1-50 it would land on 10 each time.

Too much thought has gone in to this so i will end it here and let you ponder.

My brain hurts. I wish i was a kid again ahahaha.

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Roberta Davies
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My childhood friends and I often enjoyed the counting-out ritual more than the game it was supposed to be leading up to. This was obvious enough from the fact that we always counted *out*, eliminating people one by one, instead of quickly determining "it" with a single count.

We also felt this gradual elimination was fairer, since it gave more people the opportunity to take part in the counting. Since each counter could use any rhyme they knew, having more counters did add an extra bit of randomness to the proceedings.

After a while (after we'd reached a certain age) it became obvious that you could "fix" a basic counting-out rhyme. This was when we began relying on the more complex type of rhyme, which I guess you could call a randomised or participatory rhyme. In this sort of rhyme, the first person landed on has to give a response which then continues the rhyme for an unpredictable number of counts.

One quick rhyme we used was:

"Bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish,

How many pieces do you wish?"

The person selected at "wish" can then name any number (within reason -- we usually limited it to 20), and the count continues...

"One, two, three, (etc)... and you are not it."

Another favourite was:

"My mother and your mother were hanging out clothes,

My mother gave your mother a punch in the nose.

What colour was the blood?"

The selected person could name any colour, which was then spelled out to continue the rhyme.

A final one was:

"Engine, engine, number nine,

Going down Chicago line.

If the train should jump the track,

Would you want your money back?"

The selected person could answer "yes" or "no", which was then spelled out.

Aaron Burton
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