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Years ago I heard Jim Zubkavich posit a theory he called The Wheel of Crap.

The Wheel of Crap states that any media has two opposing potentials, Great, and Crap. Great sits at the top of the wheel, Crap sits at the bottom, and the two states form a continuum.

Almost every human endeavor will begin at Crap. Through the application of creative force and dedication, the needle on The Wheel of Crap will begin its upward march toward Great. Depending on the ambition of that initial idea, it may require a lot of effort or very little. Cooking a decent grilled cheese sandwich, for example, requires very little effort. Apply too little effort and may get up to good, but you won't reach Great. Apply too much effort and you will be on your way down to Crap again. A grilled cheese does not need foie gras and questionably harvested oils. Despite, or perhaps because of the effort, that sandwich would be crap.

There are some edge cases that are explained nicely by The Wheel of Crap. Plan 9 From Outer Space, Road House, and Escape From New York all applied such tremendous force to the wheel that they did the full revolution back up toward Great. Plan 9 likely spun it a few times.

I was asked a few times at a recent Calgary game developers meetup, how the game that I had presented several meetings (read months) ago was shaping up. I had to proudly thrust my chin forward and proclaim that what I was working on was indeed crap. And that’s ok.

While Jim has proven himself to be a master of the wheel, I still struggle with it on an almost daily basis. There is evidence littering my my past works that seems to indicate that I can, on occasion, push the wheel hard enough and long enough to create something pleasant to look at. I have every reason to believe that these weren’t flukes. It is possible for me to pivot the wheel into a positive heading. Right now, the game as it stands, is crap. But understanding the wheel, and how it works means that, while it may be crap now, good or even great may be in it’s future.

This is one of those posts where I didn't really have a point. So I’ll just stop here.

This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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