Sexism in Pinball: Practical Examples

Is that even still a thing? I haven’t heard it in a long time but maybe that’s just because people have learned not to say it around me but still say it to each other.

For the record this is specifically listed as unacceptable in the TiltForums Code Of Conduct.


I think we may have had a discussion about this. There are many such words. “Exploit” seems to be the most common and is closest in language to the alternate intent of the original word.

Perhaps I’ve been oblivious, or had the good fortune of not seeing/noticing blatant sexism in our local pinball scene, but when my friend, @ehobbs told me about her incident at Pinburgh, my eyes were opened.

As a husband who’s blessed to have an awesome, beautiful, smart, and talented wife… And blessed to have an amazing 12-yr old daughter who I hope grows up in an environment where she isn’t judged by her gender… I would be appalled to see or hear of my wife or daughter dealing with situations that Emily, @CFFLegs, and others have mentioned here.

No longer will I stand idly by or stay too engrossed in my games or conversations. I’m on the lookout now. Pinball needs to set an example for the rest of society and be a safe, welcoming hobby for all.

Thanks for starting this thread.


UGH, yes, please. This one actually makes me nauseous.

1 Like

I think I actually saw you call somebody on this at PPL finals one season, and it made me happy. Using “rape” with a positive connotation has always disturbed me deeply.


This topic brings up a related issue I think about a lot, but I don’t want to derail this thread with it. Please go read my new thread on diversity here:


Important thread this.

My best female pinball friend qualified for A division at Pinburgh, she went to stand by some of the (high profile) players who she was playing in the next round. Another high profile player who she was not playing against in the next round walked over to her and proceeded to tell her that the B/C players were over there. She explained that she was infact in A division to which he skulked away ashamed.

This is not only blatant sexism, but also extreme arrogance that goes on quite a lot at the top end of the competitive scene.


Weird! I hadn’t heard (or maybe noticed) it either and less than 5 minutes after reading this post I came across this.

Props for Nate for the quick correction too :slight_smile:

1 Like

Thanks for this thread. As others have mentioned, I’m going to up my observation and intervention if I see things like this going on. We have a number of female players in the Sydney scene and - while I am yet to see bad behaviour from males - I recognise that it is happening and I’m not picking up on it. There needs to be a culture of greater support and understanding.

As for the unfortunate ‘rape’ term, I was starting to think that term had been left behind to the history of gaming as people became more aware that it was inappropriate. However, just recently I’ve seen a re-emergance of the term and I’m not sure why. I have a theory that it’s the hidden away communities (such as twitch chat) that are getting much more wide general exposure and therefore the extreme and niche languages getting a rebirth. But I could be utterly wrong on that wild assumption! It needs to stop - I was uncomfortable with the term when it was popular in the 90s, let alone these days…


I’ll start using “burn” the spinner (because it’s “lit” and I love word play)


Indeed, very good job by Nate.

I prefer to “melt” a spinner. But that’s a good one.

1 Like

I prefer @Adam’s usage of the word consummate. It somewhat implies consent :slight_smile:

I’d prefer in this interaction (just like in all others in our world) we just leave the overt tone of sexuality out of it entirely.


I’ve heard it referred to as “spamming”, which works for me, because spam is delicious.

I’ve always used “rip the spinner.” And not because “rip” sounds similar to “rape.”

And thankfully I’ve found most people have changed over to “exploit” to describe a tactic or shot that takes advantage of a pin’s rules, scoring, shots, etc.


I cannot believe this was ever a thing. Thank god I’ve never heard it, and hopefully never will.

I’m a rip the spinner kind of guy.


Cross-posted from Facebook -
So, a couple of things:

  1. I wrote the original post on Tilt Forums. Hi! I’m Elizabeth! You might know me from such adventures as PAPA, Pinburgh, and the Replay Foundation.

  2. I asked Bowen’s permissions to use his name and likeness ahead of time, and ran the original post by him. He reminded me of a couple of scenarios I’d forgotten, and I incorporated them.

  3. The post was birthed from a recurring conversation I’ve been having with women for a long while, and I decided, after a long talk with Priyanka on Saturday, to take all of the things I have witnessed and anecdotes I had heard and make this post because;

  4. A lot of the time, when these comments and situations happen, I absolutely believe the person who said/did them does not know that they are saying/doing a sexist thing. So it only seems right that maybe I try to educate that person and call it out. Which leads to;

  5. I am sometimes really, really bad about calling it out. It’s a lot easier to smile and nod and brush it off in the moment than it is to actually deal with it.

  6. But that grows tiresome and infuriating as more and more women have the same conversation over and over and over. Oh, you’re new to pinball? Playing three whole months? And you’re getting the same attitude and comments and actions I’ve been getting for 16 years? Maybe I should open my stupid fucking mouth then, because;

  7. I am absolutely, 1000% convinced that I get far, far, far less of this shit than my fellow women, because I have been visible in this scene and in a position of prominence (for lack of a better term) for so long. I know, without a doubt, that I am respected in this community. And I know, without a doubt, that if you stood on the red carpet at PAPA and called my friends cows for putting up a good ball, and I said something, you would feel bad.

  8. There’s been a lot of talk on these threads about Pinburgh, and the behavior there. I want to point out that that is because this was the most recent really big show, and not because Pinburgh/ReplayFX is a hostile environment. We have a strict code of conduct. Players have been yellow carded, people have been ejected. This is MY event. I’m an ORGANIZER. I have been there since the beginning, since the old Pinburgh in the Best Western conference room. Please, PLEASE do not think that what is being described is specific to my tournaments and shows.

  9. The entire point is that this happens everywhere, and that, hopefully, by making people who would otherwise already be allies aware that this is offensive, hurtful, condescending, and rude, that people might take a moment to think before speaking, or speak up when they see this behavior.

  10. The only agenda here is to shed light on an issue that a lot of people are experiencing in the community at large, in the hopes that the community will grow and become a more welcoming space. That’s it. More people enjoying more pinball.

So, that’s it. That’s my point and my agenda. And I want to point out, too, in case it isn’t crystal clear, that I speak for myself, and not the foundation I am associated with - but most of you know me from there, and know that absolutely none of us would put up with some of the described behavior, were it brought to our attention. Please bring it to our attention. Don’t just discuss it on the internet after the fact. Tell us then, so we can take action, and actively work to make a better space for all people.



So glad to see this topic being addressed, though I’m sad it even needs to be addressed. I’m one of the people that runs the Tuesday night pinball league and events at Logan Arcade in Chicago. We do our best to make our league, our events, and the bar itself a welcoming space for people no matter their race, gender, disability status (I myself am a person with disabilities) - no matter whatever. And I’m dead sad when I hear this bullshit happening in the hobby. I’m sad when I see manufacturers banning people from their social media when they object to sexist BS. When any sort of this shit comes up during league play - or just when I’m hanging out at the arcade - please know that we’re taking care of it ASAFP.

(And yes, we have “Big Juicy Melons” at the arcade - but it never makes it into league play, for some reason)

1 Like

Speaking to a lot of women who are in the hobby, I hear this all the time. In general at arcades, they’re frequently condescended to (by strangers, who popped in unwelcome). I’ve heard a lot of gross sexual language seated either in “I’m just joking” at women OR the aforementioned “rape” a spinner.

And of course, I’ve heard a lot of women complain about Woah Nellie, which plenty of men in their own “safe spaces” away from women will grumble that some women are being too politically correct, it’s a silly joke, these feminists have no sense of humor-- whatever.

I too run a league, and I’ve tried to make it as inclusive as possible, to the point where I’ve written a full antiharassment policy, but of course I’m sure that plenty never makes its way back to me. My concern is that it is such an overwhelmingly male hobby-- from the top down— where Stern could make Woah Nellie and genuinely be shocked when there’s people who are upset by it that then its becomes an implicit invitation that this is largely for men, so such behavior is okay from the various behaviors listed across this thread, to say posting a bunch of scantly clad bikini babes when people start an online argument (not here at Tilt, mind).

I don’t know what the solutions are, as I doubt that the change will come from the top down, but I think women’s leagues and being aware that there’s many women that feel this way without immediately dismissing them is a good first step.