In games of skill physical prowess or mental faculties determine success. In games of chance, however, winning or losing can depend completely on luck. Sometimes it is hard to keep the two types strictly separate. The games in the previous chapter were constructed so that the player determined the outcome of the game. Sometimes winning depended merely on judging the opportune moment to end the game. Every computer game of chance needs a “chance generator” to provide that elusive element of luck. The oldest chance generators are perhaps dice, which were favorite playthings of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. It is thought that casting dice was introduced by priests for divination and prophesying the will of the gods. Then the practice separated from religious ritual and became a game all its own. The Greek historian Herodotus even tells us that Pharaoh Rhampsinitos descended into the underworld where he played dice with the goddess Demeter. “In part he won, in part he lost; as a gift from Demeter he received a golden cloth.” (Herodutus, Histories, II, 122).
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