Those that like to shout at themselves be warned . . .


For any TD’s out there, our yellow cards are available at Target. You get 540 of them for under $10! :slight_smile:

I know I slapped one on Mads Kristensen at some point during the weekend . . . and he wore it on his chest the rest of the tournament. SHAME!!! SHAME!!!


Coming off of Bat City this past weekend, it was great to see this post - thanks E.Wag! I absolutely agree and support TD’s paying attention to distracting players.

We had a situation at Bat City where a player was distracting for 2 days of qualifying. Beyond just the yelling at a bad drain, this player had a running commentary going in reaction to missing shots and begging the machine. At times the player had headphones on while listening to music, and the commentary got louder, presumably to overcome the music in the player’s ears.

I spoke to one of the TDs about it, saying that myself and other players were negatively affected by the distraction. So much so that I had to start avoiding whatever section of the tournament the player was on and ultimately a group of us left the tournament for a lunch break just to get away from it.

When we returned I was notified that the TDs chose not to take any action. It’s their prerogative I suppose, but it definitely put a damper on the day’s play. And as the night went on, other players began getting louder in their negative reactions as clearly that was established as being okay.

Eric makes some great points about tempering emotions and hopefully we’ll see TD’s take more action and encourage players to remember that even in a HERB style tournament, there are other players around and to respect the surroundings.


Yeah I could probably guess in three guesses or less who this individual might have been… personally, I find it hilarious more than distracting given my own level of ‘backbox animation’ at times, but I definitely get where other people are coming from. Hint: It wasn’t me (HOW NOVEL!). I’d much rather see the games get some verbal abuse than be coffin dropped. Was a great time either way.

True fact: Tennis has a longstanding history of outraged players doing ridiculous things. Just go back and look at John McEnroe and Andre Agassi…McEnroe was way worse but I remember as a kid seeing both of them just lose it. Pretty sure McEnroe smashed at least one racket on the court. :grimacing:


However outrageous John M. ever was, he never distracted his opponent by talking while they were serving. It’s not too much to ask of a player to be corteous to her adversaries. It’s just about respect for others.


True, but it’s a slightly different environment too. :wink: I very much doubt that anyone that was at BCO was being loud for the express purpose of being intentionally distracting. Some people are just “talky” with games.

I dunno…like I said, I have my own opinion on the matter and I don’t take it very seriously at all. Different strokes and all that, which is fine…but I don’t like the implication that it was being done intentionally. That would be seriously poor form, even by MY low standards.

Is it any different than when there’s multiple groups going on at Pinburgh or PAPA and Sharpe is off to the side with “NOT LIKE THIS!” or “COME ON, JOSH!”? Seems to me if it’s okay for those tournaments… I’d personally find it difficult to penalize a player for that unless it was totally egregious/intentional, or they’re cursing (And we did have a lot of that at BCO…which shockingly wasn’t me most of the time.) excessively. I like the PAPA idea of the yellow cards and warnings…that seems to be the best possible solution when you can’t actually prove someone is going out of their way to do that.

To go back to tennis analogies, not all of the players grunt loudly every time they hit the ball, but quite a few do. Oddly enough when I used to pay closer attention to tennis, I always found the yelling at the ball rather ridiculous, so I don’t know why I don’t feel the same way about pinball. scratch chin


I’m ready with my 2017 Pinburgh gear . . .


I’m all for limiting the amount of swearing at tourneys – I’ve made it a point personally to do better at that over the years. And I’m far from perfect.

But you want people to not be able to talk to the games, themselves, or express their emotion (in a non-abusive, non-vulgar way)? I don’t want this to turn into golf: “Quiet on the tournament floor, please. Colin’s lining up a jackpot shot.”

In my opinion, we need different and notable personalities of a variety of people to come through during a tournament. To me, it’s part of the fun.


I also have made an effort to curb my swearing at tourneys. This is what seems to work for me!


It is a major distraction when certain players are screaming at the top of their lungs from across the room while you are actively trying to compete in a playoff game. It’s disrespectful and rude. Just listen to the broadcast of the BCO playoffs.


BCO was one of the first pinball events I traveled for. Maybe it’s the norm at big events, but it seemed like there was constant screaming and swearing at machines, especially in the playoffs. Personally, I feel like it doesn’t affect my play, but I can certainly see how it would be distracting. I don’t think anyone had any bad intentions, but it certainly does make things a lot less fun when everyone you are playing with is constantly yelling and swearing at the machine. I have not had a chance to go back and watch the stream yet, but I would be surprised if a lot of that didn’t make it through on the broadcast. I don’t think any casual pinball players would have a favorable view of the tournament scene if what I saw and heard in person came across is the broadcast.


A couple options I can think of are institute a no disruption policy or institute a disruption allowed policy.

No disruption could be fairly simple like no swearing or loud behavior. Yellow card upon infraction. Brian, what was it you implemented that has worked for your groups?

A disruption allowed policy could still prohibit swearing. Conduct rules could state those bothered by demonstrative players should take personal measures such as headphones to mitigate distractions.

I currently lean towards encouraging as much tolerance as practical, including tolerating behavior I find objectionable. I recognize others do not share that view in every case and I’m glad we’re having a discussion about it.


Here is what the PAPA/IFPA rules state about player conduct.

Personal Conduct
All players are expected to conduct themselves in a polite and sensitive manner. Outbursts, especially those including indecent language, are unacceptable. A wide variety of players and observers will be present, including media, and these types of outbursts do nothing to promote pinball as a sport. Any express or implied threats or actions of violence are grounds for immediate ejection from the facility, and authorities will be contacted. Other possible grounds for ejection include but are not limited to fraud, theft, illegal activity, harrassment, inappropriate behavior, public drunkenness, etc. Any person ejected from the facility is banned and may not return to the property. Banned persons will be prosecuted for trespass if necessary.

As a tournament official in San Francisco, we have implemented a zero tolerance for repeated outbursts. We have had to deal with this in the past. If we receive a complaint we will first talk to the player and let them know that there has been a complaint. At that point we would most likely give an official warning. If we receive more complaints in the future, we would then discuss any sanctions that would apply. We have never gotten past the warning stage as each player became aware of their distraction to others and promised to make changes. Implementing our zero tolerance rule has made a big positive impact on tournaments and leagues in the Bay Area. It especially doesn’t scare off new players that might otherwise be offended or put off by such behavior. It also promotes the sport as a whole.

One thing I’d like to note is that I went back last night to the part in Wizard Mode for when Robert had his outburst at Pinburgh. He had one loud scream of “FUCK!”. He received a warning for that. I feel that was quite tame compared to the the things I heard this weekend at BCO.


I am going to link to last year’s thread on this topic, since there are many new members to the forum.

I will say being in an environment were people have angry outbursts does fuel more angry outbursts. I was very disappointed with myself for swearing on the stream, and I basically don’t sweat except when playing pinball, foosball or online games. I know I will yell at the machine, usually yelling no to order the ball that it is not allowed to take the outlane. I have outbursts on drains, but if the norm was no outbursts, I would probably behave in a way I would be much more happy with (I know, I could just behave better, but I don’t).


I 100% agree that egregiously loud or repeated F-bombs (or other vulgarity) deserve either a verbal warning or a yellow card, and if repeated further, then a red card. While I wasn’t the TD at BCO this year, for tourneys that I TD in the future, I plan on taking a more strict approach on overly loud or repeated vulgarity. Derogatory/Hate language warrants an instant red card.

But a lot more leeway should be given to non-vulgar verbal outbursts. We’re playing a competitive game that has a physical/visceral component. For simply loud non-vulgar outbursts, I’m thinking I’d wait to hear from two different people/groups about two separate incidents, and then give a private verbal warning to the player to tone it down. If they repeat again, then yellow. Then red.

Because other than playing at someone’s home collection for fun, I can’t think of many pinball experiences where it isn’t a loud environment:

  • at the arcade, growing up, I heard much worse from the crowd gathered around the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat cabinets.
  • in bowling alleys, plenty of outbursts and vulgarity from bowlers.
  • in bars, much louder and more vulgar outbursts from people playing pool, darts, Foosball, golden tee, and shuffle board.
  • in pretty much every sport I know, competitors vent their emotions and frustrations on a regular basis.

If someone wants a library-like environment of people’s volume level or responses to competing, I guess I’d recommend wearing headphones, or switching to golf or a quiet board game environment? (shrug)


There are at least two different situations:

  1. Player who is not playing yells loudly about something that’s going on in the game. There was at least one instance on the stream where player A was playing the game, got two tilt warnings and player B (who was watching right behind) yelled so loud about those tilt warnings that it could be heard on the stream. In my book that’s player interference and player B should have gotten an immediate warning. If you can’t manage to keep your mouth shut while you’re not playing, you should be watching from very very very far away.

  2. Screaming at games, swearing at games while playing. I might be in the minority, but I also think players should be warned (etc.) for this behavior. It goes under the player conduct rules. We’re all adults, behave like adults. I care more about creating an inclusive environment for existing and new players than I care about letting someone scream their lungs out.

Doesn’t make it right

Doesn’t make it right either

Still doesn’t make it right

And they are penalized for it. Whether it’s technical fouls in basketball or yellow cards in football they are readily handed out when players don’t conduct themselves.

In the end it’s about managing expectations. It’s clear to me what without changes BCO is probably not an event for me because I would rather support events that have stricter expectations around player conduct. And that’s totally fine – there are plenty of events to choose from. I’ll work to make sure expectations are clear for events I’m personally involved with.

@pinwizj How about an annual IFPA Fair Play award? The IFPA president shouldn’t be eligible, but I doubt it’ll be a problem :wink:


And to clarify before someone yells at me: Singular outbursts like yelling “YES” when starting a multiball or clapping your hands once or whatever is okay in my book. Repeatedly screaming at the game is no bueno is there are players playing around you. Their right to play without interference outweighs your right to scream (since you don’t have a right, just a contextual privilege)


I’m not necessarily saying we need silence on the tournament floor at all. I agree with you that the personality of players is something that makes pinball unique and compelling. Agreed on limiting swearing for sure, but it also boils down to respect for other players.

To @Frax 's point: I don’t think anyone at BCO was being malicious, and I said that to the TD - but I do think the frequency, volume and duration of outburst and self expression were disrespectful and distracting throughout the tournament. Even I reacted audibly a few times at BCO, but 95% of my games, I respected players around me and kept my emotions to myself.


I’m sorry, but this is going WAY WAY overboard with keeping pinball quiet. I guess you better tell all the people that were watching BCO on the TV screens at the bar to keep their mouths shut, or maybe they should leave the bar entirely because they’re getting too excited with watching pinball action, and you could hear their reactions through the stream as well. ??!!?!!
WTH?? This is EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT. Spectators. Spectators that care enough to react.
And players that are emotionally invested in each game and each match to care enough to react. Some of the best players in the world in every sport/hobby are indeed the most cool-headed. But the ones that are the most fun to watch are the ones that wear their emotions on their sleeve.

And personally, when I was playing in the finals, I LOVED it when I heard a crowd reaction to a sweet nudge save or lucky bounce, and even enjoyed those that commiserated with ball drains when they groaned – LOUDLY. It was very cathartic! :slight_smile:

I would much prefer to have competitive pinball enjoyed in an environment like the FSPA/PPL League Battle than a library-like / golf-clap venue.


That’s not what I was saying. Please don’t put words in my mouth. Here’s what I wrote:

There was at least one instance on the stream where player A was playing the game, got two tilt warnings and player B (who was watching right behind) yelled so loud about those tilt warnings that it could be heard on the stream.

This is a player on the same game, standing 3-6 feet away from the active player yelling so loud about what’s going on in the game that the microphones on the stream picked it up. I firmly believe that players involved in a game should keep their mouth shut when one of their opponents are playing.


I tuned into the stream during qualifying, was trying to watch the game being streamed, but one of the people in this thread had frequent outbursts in the foreground of the player came(with audio), enough that it affected my ability to enjoy watching, and I tuned out. These type of outbursts also affect my ability to enjoy an event if I’m there, as well. (Also not sure how a qualifying game deserves outbursts on what I’m guessing are all 3 of the drains from that game)

I agree that I don’t think people should be silent, but I think there’s a big difference between anger and frustration, as far as whether I find it appropriate and/or affecting others’ experience. I think the general test is whether if you were there whether you’d feel comfortable making a joke about how they got hosed after they walked away from the machine. This is the big difference between Josh’s not-like-this outbursts and the type of outbursts I saw on the stream, at least personally there is a difference in how it affects me.

I guess I don’t know how you stop people from being angry, but I know if I was a TD and trying to create an enjoyable experience for all, there’s a lot of behavior that I would want to yellow card that I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get a warning for. But, perhaps I’m just more sensitive to this than others?

Full disclosure, I personally have gone over the line once towards a TD over a ruling, and apologized after the fact and still think about it and regret it. So, I’m not saying it should never happen, but it’s far too frequent from some people…