Toxic Behavior Continues in 2019


As a newer player and TD I include the statements that players and machines are to be respected. That sexist/racist comments are an automatic red card.

We have had individual players throw things, be rude to service staff, or rage after draining. I have had private conversations with players that they are making the environment toxic and it’s not appreciated. Most apologize and have since thought about the other people stepping up after them.

Having my preteen daughter in the room helped decrease loud swearing till she did it. But I am not bothered by that as long as it’s not directed at another person.


I find the Mute Thread function very easy to use for topics I don’t care about. I’d suggest trying that before suggesting the rest of us shouldn’t discuss certain topics.


Gillie - Not calling you out so please don’t take as such. But I’m quoting as I feel it supports some concerns that have been voice.

This is proof of what Gorgar is speaking of. Every couple of months a thread like this opens up and people start talking about the same things. It then turns into 80% of the group belittling the other 20% because they have issue with being told they can’t show frustration in the form of something most consider to be minor. Then examples start coming in that nobody argues (Racist, sexist, vilence, rage titling, etc) and the circle starts all over.

In the last half a dozen of these threads you have 15 (maybe 20) speaking up. About 80% of them agree and belittle the others that vocalize displeasure in the topic or what the desired outcomes are. Their are 66,541current active players and to think that a couple dozen people on a fairly obscure forum speak for the community is what bothers some of us. This “behavior” has been going on for decades. How exactly is it killing pinball again then? Last I checked competitive pinball is blowing up you can’t even get tickets to most of the non-local barcade based tournaments anymore if you don’t sign up the day they open up. The only difference I see between a couple decades ago and today is that 20 years ago people minded their own business. Today, everyone feels they need to portray their personal beliefs onto others and if they don’t agree with their opinions they obviously are idiots.

I’ll say my last piece, as I know where this goes and I’m generally not welcomed in this topic (or heck the forum in general), and then use the mute option as suggested unless specifically called back here.

  • I encounter drama and stress in every facet of my life mainly because people want to force their beliefs on me. Pinball was (I used “was” on purpose) my getaway from the political bull crap of the world (both sides of the floor). I’m honestly growing sick of it and I’m not alone which is the sad part. Make all the rules you want to prevent violence, sexism, physical properly harm, etc but as long as someones actions is not directed at someone and isn’t doing physical harm to the machine or establishment then it’s not our job to police it. If they say a word that offends you or a gesture at a machine that you don’t agree with then maybe it’s time for you to use your “mute” button. Or better yet, use it as a teaching moment if you are with your kids, I do daily…The world is diverse in perspective, belief, background and opinions. If someone is not causing you physical harm or harm to personal property it is not YOUR responsibility to correct their behavior or belief.

I just thank the Lord above that snailman, yeoldpinballer, spraynard, law, etc have shown great judgement in the events they put on. They let the rules known up front, manage them equally and don’t try to overly censor their participants. If all I did was read the tilt forums and didn’t get to play in the events they put on their is no way I would ever want to be part of where this community is trying to go.


Brad - I think with new players joining this community every day we will have this as a common topic. Maybe it’s more about avoiding burnout then really nailing down a code of conduct. I am greatful that I have learned most I know from a calm collected TD that has been playing and running events for years. Some are not as lucky and this forum allows that learning from others and maybe a place to vent.

I don’t have time or want to police the tournaments for swearing or agitated grunts. Ultimately pinball is player vs machine and not player v player.


This topic is related to - - III. Player Conduct


No its not. It’s you venting about something you should have handled in real life. It’s what all these threads are about.


So, you’re venting about something I’m venting about that I should of handled in real life?

In seriousness, player conduct is a big chunk of the IFPA/PAPA rule-set and no one is forcing you to read or engage in a conversation regarding it.


Brad, I’m not sure if we’ve ever met in person before but if we did or if you attended one of my events I feel comfortable in saying you’d add my name to the list of other TD’s you hold in high regard. I by no means want to force my beliefs or opinion onto someone else. I just want players to proactively read and follow proper player conduct as outlined in the IFPA/PAPA ruleset. We as TD’s shouldn’t need to take adults aside and warn them like they we are their parents and they’re our children. We (TD and participants) need to work together to improve and make the environment positive for both old comers and new comers to the competitive pinball scene.


The purpose of threads like these is for TDs to discuss ways to improve our handling of difficult interpersonal situations that come up within the pinball community. They will come up; as some have said upthread, that’s just life, but just because it’s going to happen in any group we decide to participate in doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strategize about how to handle something when it occurs at a pinball event. We’ve had a thread on chair spacing at events on this forum, and one on what to do when a natural disaster hits your event, so we clearly have interest in the intricate details of pinball event management.

I’ve been running pinball tournaments for years and still tweak and change my process for dealing with player conduct. It’s helpful to hear from others what they’ve tried and how successfully it has worked. Newer TDs can learn and be prepared before they ever have to deal with conduct issues, and more experienced TDs can learn about situations and edge cases that may never have come up for them. I’ve had people contact me directly asking for advice in handling complex situations, and I’m always happy to collaborate and share what I think works, but a community discussion is far more transparent and allows for different perspectives.

To keep this topic on track, let’s not debate whether or not this thread is worthwhile; those who are interested in discussing the topic can do so, and those who find it boring or annoying can mute it and move on. Thanks, all!


And this right here is why it’s impossible to talk meaningfully about “toxic behavior” at a macro level. Some people would be appalled if there was swearing in earshot of a pre-teen. And some have no problem if a pre-teen is swearing. Neither attitude is objectively right or wrong for the community at large.


Those rules clearly refer at times to tournaments held at PAPA, as you can see in various parts of the language referring to that facility. But if we’re going to apply them to any tournament, then let’s have some fun:

  1. “Please do not remove chairs from any area where they have been placed.” – I think 75% of Pinburgh participants just got DQ’d.
  2. “Weapons, illegal drugs, and alcohol are prohibited on the property.” – Oops.
  3. “No player may wait for more that 60 seconds from the end of the previous player’s turn to begin their turn.” – all those people doing smartphone stopwatch countdowns for 3 minutes after tilts are all DQ’d.
  4. “We also feel that pinball is at least 75% skill-based, making any wagering at best ill-advised, in addition to being illegal.” – arrest the dollar game players!

Of course, those rules are meant to be guidelines for TDs to use in their own tournaments. But lots of people like to just say “we’re using IFPAPA rules” when what they really mean is “we’re cherry-picking the parts we like” like 1.7, 3.2, 3.3, etc. I think if blanket rules statements are going to be made like that, then TDs should clarify which parts they are using. If a TD means to borrow IFPAPA rules on player conduct, then say that in the kickoff speech.


All those people? What people? If you encounter those people, alert a TD, because they are not following the rules. I have never seen a player set a 3-minute timer.

As for your other examples, “please” is generally not grounds for disqualifying someone and dollar-game players aren’t playing in tournaments. I’ll ask to have the rule about alcohol updated (which happened for the first time in 2017).

Let’s redirect to something useful. Is the language in III.3 appropriate and accurate? If not, how should it be changed?

“Abusive handling such as punching, kicking, lifting, tipping, or rocking a machine, or hitting the glass in any way, is grounds for a warning and possible disqualification of game or ejection from the tournament, at the discretion of tournament officials.”


I think that’s worded fine.


Agreed. It gives TD’s the flexibility to interpret ‘bad behaviour’ with the initial Yellow, and reinforce the ruling with a red. Seems pretty straightforward to me.


Seems like a reasonable set of guidelines regarding machine abuse. Since no definitive penalties are specified, it’s still up to a TD that chooses to use this rule to define — hopefully objectively — what a “warning” really means and when a DQ or ejection comes into the mix.


This right here is great feedback and fits into what Zoe was mentioning:


I’m generally fine with all of section III as it relates to player behavior.

I’ll note though that all of this discussion depends on a tournament stating they are using IFPAPA rules. If they aren’t then none of this matters. In my area, I think it’s either assumed that the tournament is following them (or again, the cherry-picked parts people like) or no one involved in running the tournament cares. Referring back to the rowdy tournament I mentioned earlier in this thread, I can say with certainty that none of the player behavior parts of the IFPAPA rules are getting enforced, ever, but they do follow conventions regarding stuck balls, playing out of order, not starting the correct number of games, etc. So like most tournaments, it’s partial-IFPAPA and I put it on the TD to clarify which parts they are actually following, if any. I will say in my experience it’s rare to hear the phrase “We are following the IFPAPA ruleset for this tournament.”


Key words… ‘their events’

Problem here is the consistent message is not people talking about how they run their events… but trying to influence others THEY TOO should believe and follow the same standards they want for their events.

It’s a passive aggressive way to advocate that the behavior at places BEYOND THEIR EVENTS are not acceptable in their view.


If there is a competitive pinball “scene” which permits bangbacks and death saves and some of those members move into the “scene” where I run events, that will cause conflict. I would encourage other “scenes” to not engage in that type of conduct to begin with. Personally I won’t compete at locations that don’t install tilt bobs and players can move the machine all around banging the head against the head of another pin. I’m not going to risk damaging a machine nor personal injury to be competitive. I would encourage location machines, especially ones that run competitive events to install tilt bobs and look at rubber feet too. I would also encourage players to read the IFPA/PAPA rules, especially the Player Conduct section and see what is or isn’t applicable to them.

Encouraging or recommending is about as far as my reach can go with “influencing others”.


We added a pretty basic conduct warning to our rules - if a machine or attached cup holder ever touches another object (another game, wall, etc) during play, doesn’t matter how hard, it’s an automatic yellow card. Pretty basic non-subjective rule.