So, I'm working with a client to develop a game, and I mentioned that a spinner might be an alternative to dice or cards for accomplishing a "randomizing" (or probability) element. In the game there needs to be a way for determining if a player's action is successful or not. More difficult actions also need to have different probabilities. I've heard that in prisons inmates often use spinners to function as dice, because they often don't have dice and spinners are easy to make (and so they use spinners to play D&D). I had nearly forgotten about spinners entirely, in a swarm of coin tosses, cards and dice... in many contemporary games.
While my client is certainly not in prison, I felt that the spinner might be a good way to create complex probabilities that would not even work on some dice, and might be too costly to make as a deck of cards. One spinner could potentially do the job of hundreds of cards.
Part of me is hesitant to really go for the spinner though. Maybe I just have Wheel of Fortune phobia.
Here are the things that often bother me about spinners:
1) It lands on the line.... over and over, and the only solution seems to be "spin again"
2) Is is really random or is it a dexterity game? Some players seem to spin what they want to spin.
3) mechanical defects (like friction in one part of the spinner) seem to cause some effect on the probability... some cheep spinners seem to almost always give the same result.
How do you feel about spinners?
-Why are spinners rarely used in modern games? (cards and dice seem to have much more popularity)
-Do you know of any good spinners on the market?
-Are there any work-arounds for the 3 problems above? (for example does it help to have large "spin again" areas to reduce the feeling of it being a dexterity game?)
-Do you know any great contemporary games that are using spinners?
I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts,
Hum... no feedback yet. maybe i said too much!
*personally* I do not like spinners in games, because they feel "childish" and cheap to me.
Maybe you can think about a bag with different tokens if you want to change the probability of a event (you draw one or more tokens...).
Regarding your doubts:
>>>1) It lands on the line.... over and over, and the only solution seems to be "spin again"
A simpler solution: if it stops on the line just choose the next sector in the direction of the spin.
>>>2) Is is really random or is it a dexterity game? Some players seem to spin what they want to spin.
You can add a "you need at least N full spins" (2 full spins, or 1?) to lesser this effect.
On the other hand, some player may appreciate the invoved dexterity, this may look less random to them.
>>>3) mechanical defects (like friction in one part of the spinner) seem to cause some effect on the probability... some cheep spinners seem to almost always give the same result.
Yes, little bumps in the cardboard can ruin the spinner. What about a little "roulette" instead?
The thing about spinners for me is that unless you make it a really good quality spinner, I'd prefer dice. Dice will fail to produce an outcome a whole lot less than a spinner will. And just about any probability problem can be solved with dice if you try hard enough.
Now, if you have a spinner like in The Game of Life, that's different. You grab that big white knob, give it a spin, hear the whizzzzzzing of the clicker as it passes the pegs...that's an evocative memory, and a little flick spinner just can't replicate that.
What's the Wheel of Fortune phobia? I have the Deluxe game from the mid 1980s, and it came with a for real spinner just like in The Game of Life. Sure, you were still playing Wheel of Fortune, but it lent a degree of realism that the previous version lacked.
I had forgotten that the game of Life had a spinner thanks for reminding me of that. That spinner's design also resolves the problem of "landing on the line" because like Weal a fortune it has a little clicky arrow, that will or will not click past an edge. Grabbing the knob also feels a little less like a dexterity game.