UPickVG IV: How the Wheel of Destiny Works

By | May 23, 2015
UPickVG's Wheel of Destiny

All hail the Wheel of Destiny! Photo by Steve Petrucelli

During the U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity, two things determine the games we play for your amusement: your donations, and the Wheel of Destiny.

As donations come in, we log them according to the game that was requested in each donation. Every dollar is logged as 1 Point for that game (and yes, cents are logged as 1/100th of a point!), and the Live Ranking of all the games is updated.

UPickVG Game Rankings

An example of how the live rankings might appear

This is where the Wheel of Destiny takes over. Once per hour, starting ten minutes before we play the first game, we spin the wheel. Whatever number it lands on, we play the game in that slot for the next hour. (The ten minutes is to give us time to change games/systems.) The game that the wheel lands on? Well, not only do we play it for an hour, but it also loses all of its points, and goes back to the bottom of the ranking. If you want to see another hour of it, you’ll have to donate for that game again to get it up into the top of the rankings again!

Jen spins the Wheel of Destiny

Photo by Steve Petrucelli

We’ve been known to tweak the way that the Wheel of Destiny works over time. The pictures you see here are from UPickVG II (2013), when we did a straight-up Rankings 1 through 7 on the wheel, plus a “Democracy” space (which correlated to a long-running poll).

This was cool, but it taught us that Democracy was heavily overweighted (a 1-in-8 chance to land on it, and the #1 game changed infrequently), and that there was no real incentive to get games above the #7 slot, since that slot had the same odds as the game ranked #1. From the example chart above, you can see why that matters: to get a game to #7, you’d only have to donate $13.38 in this example, but the #1 slot would cost at least $100.01 in donations (big difference!).

Since UPickVG III – The Battle of the Birthdays (2014), we’ve switched to a weighted-wheel – which we think you’ll like better. Because after all, if you donated enough to get a game into Rank #1, shouldn’t the game you picked have better odds on the wheel than the game in 5th place? We think so.

How the Wheel is Weighted for UPickVG IV:

Ranking #of Wedges Probability
#1 3 37.5%
#2 2 25.0%
#3 1 12.5%
#4 1 12.5%
#5 1 12.5%

So in our example above, where the game ranked #5 (Steel Battalion) has $20 in points, the #2 game (Tokyo Jungle) has $25, and the #1 game (Buck Bumble) has $100, you could donate just $5.01 to Steel Battalion to double its chances on the wheel! Or you could donate $80.01 to triple its chances (or donate $20.01 and get 3 friends to do the same)!

Naming a Game for a Specific Player

Stephonee rages out about Zelda II

The Wheel made Stephonee play Zelda II. Photo by Steve Petrucelli.

You can’t name a Player in your donation comment, only a game – so if you’re interested in seeing a certain player have to play a certain game… how can you make that happen?

It’s all in the timing:

For any given player, the best time to donate starts one hour before that Player’s shift starts, up to one hour before their shift ends. The only exception to this rule is the very first Player (this year: Grant) – the time to donate for a game for his first shift is now – it started when donations opened (but the window still closes one hour before the end of his shift).

An example: Let’s say you really want me (Stephonee) to play some Steel Battalion, because watching me launch an 80-year-old woman out of a vertical-tank-mech-thing -with the largest controller ever made- is what you consider a laugh riot. Fair enough. The times to donate for Steel Battalion for my shift would be Sunday, June 13th between 11am and 3pm (EDT), so that’s when you would want to lay out your donation and name “Steel Battalion” in your comment.

So if you’ve got a strong preference as to who plays which games, consult the Player Shift Schedule before making your donation(s). But if you don’t have a strong preference, just go ahead and donate right now! Either way, 100% of your donation will go to clean water projects in Uganda – so you can have an impact on the Wheel of Destiny and a real person’s real-life destiny, too.

Donate for clean water in Uganda!

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[…] charity: water campaign gives points to the game of your choice. Every hour, we’ll spin the Wheel of Destiny to see which of the top-ranked games (in terms of those points!) we play for the next hour. When […]