For those that listen to music during competition play. What do you listen to?


What music do you listen to while in competition?

Do you listen to the same music every time? Or is it always different?

Do you do it only to block out distractions? Or do you think there is something more to it?

Finally, do you think you lose anything from not being able to hear game sound?

Do you play your tournaments sober?

I’m a firm believer that listening to music helps my game. I only started doing it a couple years ago. I’ve always struggled with nerves and distractions. Music helps me with both of those. I don’t normally worry about missing audio cues from the game unless it’s a game I’m really not familiar with, but those are becoming few and far between after competing for about 9 years. Rarely, I will miss a tilt warning but I’d still rather have the music to help me relax and concentrate.

What do I listen to? I was raised on classic rock and heavy metal. So my music of choice is… DUB STEP. Seriously, it somehow goes very well with the chaotic nature of the silver ball!


I listen to mostly the same few albums over and over. I need it to be something I know really well. I would be surprised if others listened to new or novel music. Jazz mainly, sometimes baroque stuff.


Yung Lean or Washed Out or Boris or our very own Lazerhawk depending on how I’m feeling.


There are definitely games that have audible cues that can be of great benefit. I just realized last night that on GOT the music changes when the playfield has been validated. This can be HUGE when playing a game with no ball save.

I don’t do headphones, and never will. I have always liked being in the moment and all that is going on around me. Never had a problem with nerves or distractions. Making the shots though, I struggle with that. Haha.


Doesn’t the blinking top lane skill shot turn off when the playfield is validated?


Didn’t think about that. Good point. You’re absolutely right. However I still prefer the audible cue because I use that as telling me that I can let the ball go and it will be fed back to the shooter lane even with no ball save. Hard to look up and check the skill shot lanes and keep track of the ball if trying to decide to perform a save or let it go.

Also, this is true after locking balls for BWMB. Obviously no skill shots lit in that situation.


It all depends on whether the machine is using competition ROMs or not.


LCD Soundsystem usually


Heh, pretty much every game with music does this. :slight_smile:


Mudhoney, My Bloody Valentine, Russian Circles.
If someone I’m playing asks: Art of War -Sun Tzu.
If that person asking is Lazerhawk: Lazerhawk.


Darude - Sandstorm


Svengence is yours!


Sometimes I feel like listening to music would eff me up during a game. Especially if there’s a defined rhythm and you need to make a timed flip that does not match up with any of the beats.


Nah, there’s a rhythmic subdivision for anywhere in the music you want to flip.

For the record, even though it’s VERY exciting when the music and the pinball are pumping me up synchronously, I’m mostly wearing the earbuds to limit external distractions like conversations.


Thanks for all the great answers guys. Some interesting stuff there.

The reason I was asking is actually because I’m considering this topic area for a thesis. I’m still really far off from actually doing it, but the topic seems to constantly comp up in relation to compeditive pinball (maybe not in actual conversation, but its something I think about a lot).

What I mean is, I think that there is more to having music on than simply blocking outside distractions, and I’m interested to see what others think.

Many players, in all sports, talk about a high level of focus commonly reffered to as being “in the zone”. I’m sure you all know it. It’s that feeling when you just can’t get it wrong. The ball just doesn’t seem to want to drain.
I also tend to think of it as a cognitive congruency. As in, there are no other thoughts going through your mind and you are completely focused on and in the moment.
Thoughts appear to be a really important part of the entire picture here. It seems that, as soon as you start thinking thats when you lose that high level of focus.
For example, ever had that moment when the ball is coming down the return lane and you think “im gonna go ramp,… no ill go loop”. You change your mind on what shot your going for, and you miss, every fucking time! haha.

So this is where the music comes in. I think that by listening to music you occupy party of your mind. It’s a part that isn’t nessisarily being used for pinball, but it stops the dialogue in your head. Stops you thinking.
Research shows that any distraction is detrimental to our focus. But my theory is, that if you listen to something consistenly in a particular situation it brings your mind closer to that mode of behaviour that is appropriate for that situation. Which is why I was interested to know if people listen to the same music every time, or if they always listen to different music.


Now, I have definitely thought a lot about using musical or lyrical focus to stay nonverbal. “Keep my eyes on the ball and my prefrontal cortex on the saxophone.” However, it seems that I tend to think about what I want whenever. I often talk to myself and the ball, cussing at it the whole way. Because it helps? Because I want to.

Shot ambivalence is solved by knowing your strat, point values, success likelihoods, recovery danger, etc. cold so there is no question about what you need to be shooting at.

Hey man, you bring the mri, a pinball and some beer and I’m there.


hahaha… the beer might confound the results.

This is a really interesting point. I wonder if when most people talk about “knowing rules” what they are really talking about is what you describe. Its not just knowing rules, but also knowing how dangerous shots are and best strategies so well that there is no thought required.


Pinball is the distraction to me. It’s easy to stay focused because I don’t have to think about my problems in real life.

I’ve never played with headphones, but I’ve played with all kinds of music in the background over the years. My favorite time musically was probably the 90’s when most all arcades played FM rock on the radio. All the windows blocked, at least one 4’ black light fixture and FM rock on the radio. That was the minimum requirements for a cool arcade.

My concentration level has always been inversely proportional to how long I’ve been playing. These days I can go about an hour and a half (straight, by myself) before concentration fades and fatigue sets in. Good music in the background may increase this time slightly, but not much.


Ah, I thought that I had answered this already. Radiohead’s Kid A is a GREAT pinball album. It’s like…um, enjoyable white noise at times.