The iconic red and black roulette wheel is an image that most people will be familiar with, if not at least some variation of the spinning wheel of fortune in popular media. In fact, what we now know as the roulette wheel has been around since before roulette itself even first came about, and has gone on to influence many other concepts beyond casino gaming since then.
In this article, we discuss how this famous symbol has evolved.
Wheel of Evolution
As we know it, the iconic wheel is best known from the original roulette game, featuring black and red numbered compartments for players to place bets on depending on where they think the small ball placed inside will nestle in once the wheel is spun and comes to a stop.
The wheel’s cultural influence in the gaming world has led to its presence in many forms in other casino-related games that aren’t roulette. For instance, Paddy Power’s Wonder Wheel is a daily free spin wheel that offers a selection of random prizes. Like the roulette wheel, scoring a winning spin on the Wonder Wheel is down to chance, though this online game also offers free spins and other bonuses alongside it.
In fact, the concept of a “wheel of fortune” has been around since ancient times and was even part of medieval philosophy, referred to as “rota fortunae”. There is even a card dedicated to this concept in traditional tarot card decks, featuring the “wheel of life” in the center.
While cruder instances of early spin-the-wheel games existed in Ancient Rome and Greece using shields and chariot wheels, the origin of the roulette wheel can be traced back to 1655, when French inventor Blaise Pascal was attempting to create a “perpetual motion machine” that defied the laws of physics. Unfortunately, he was unable to bring his original vision to fruition, though the spinning wheel made its way down a different road to success in 17th-century France not long after with the birth of roulette.
Spins of Suspense
In the present day, there are countless concepts that have taken direct inspiration from roulette beyond spin-offs of the original casino game. However, the common factors these diverse concepts all share are the element of chance and, of course, the spinning wheel icon. For instance, there are a number of well-used online decision-making tools like Spin The Wheel App that feature an animated spinning wheel to generate a random “choice” for the user.
Perhaps the greatest reason why this fortune-spin concept has been such a hit throughout history is the added element of suspense brought by watching the wheel starts as a dizzying blur of uncertain fate until it gradually slows down, crawling towards an unpredictable winning result.
From 1655 (or earlier!) to the present day, the roulette wheel of fortune has undergone an evolutionary process whilst maintaining the core concepts that have made it so memorable for people across the world. Found in a variety of traditional and modern games, both in online and in-person forms, we can say for sure that this symbol of fate will never grow old.