Toxic Behavior Continues in 2019

If it doesn’t tilt, it definitely shouldn’t be a yellow card. Clap clap, Alexa: play best slide saves of all time.


I have no issues with anyone advocating for what they feel would make a better tournament and make pinball, in general, more appealing.

I can advocate for a more family friendly tournament if that’s my choice, and if the TD doesn’t want that environment or likes that folks curse a bunch, they can run their tournaments they way they want too. I’ll have to decide if that’s an event I want to go to. Likewise, you can tell me that my tournaments are too restrictive and not fun for you, and then I can make a decision about my code of conduct. If it’s too strict for you, then you don’t need to show up.

And I’m just using that as an example. Cursing doesn’t bother me as long as it’s not directed at anyone, but that’s me and my call.

I tend to flip off the machine, which most folks don’t mind, but if someone did, or if there was a rule about no obscene gestures because the event is streaming, or whatever, I don’t see that as a big deal. I’ll adjust my behavior, and then decide if I want to attend events that have those types of rules in place.

Also, I don’t see it as passive aggressive. I don’t think many folks are being passive around these parts when it comes to this topic.


In general, I agree with you… but if an event and its TD’s establish an additional measure & consequence for excessive slides/movement besides the tilt bob, that’s their prerogative, and players have to abide by it. See: Pinburgh rubber feet rules.


We don’t have the keys to the games we play and sometimes they have no tilt. If a game hits anything else, it moved too far regardless of tilt status. I’m working with what I’ve got.


I appreciated the “Inner Game of Tennis” quote. Not because I support any excessive lashing out during a tournament, but because it is a good point that we tend to carry a lot of life into pinball. It’s our outlet, a lot of us really want to win, because it’s important to us, but we carry into a tournament, into every critical moment, some baggage that will inevitably affect how we behave.

This may not be true for everyone, but every tournament I go to I try to remind myself how I want others to perceive me at these events. I’ve seen crappy behavior, I know I’ve been one of those people in the past, and I genuinely don’t want to put a damper on anyone else’s good time. Personally it was a tough 2018 for me, and a previous quote “you never know what folks are bringing to the tournament” rings true. As pinball is a competitive outlet for me, it tends to surface whatever life situations are going on at the time, much like the book describes. I’ve had my tough moments where I hope I didn’t cross any line. Every single event I go to, I always take a conscious moment to reflect on my behavior. Usually I find that my attitude correlates directly with my performance, and being more conscious of keeping in good spirits has benefits all around.

I think some players genuinely recognize and pay attention to how they’re acting and try to improve. I think some players don’t realize how their behavior rubs off at all. For a TD, if they see something that they don’t feel is appropriate at their event, it is perfectly acceptable to use the “yellow card/red card” system to convey that message. I have never personally received a formal warning of this nature, but a friend jokingly(but seriously) said “dude that’s a yellow card” and it was enough to make me take a step back and think again. My hope is that the more thoughtful discussion on these type of things we have, the more ingrained “good behavior” will be in tournaments. You’ll never take the competitive spirit out of people, things will happen, but I’d like to think every bit helps.


When you say “I’m sick of this behavior” and then follow on with “some of the offenders might read this and possibly think before they either say or act in such a manner” - it’s a way of trying emphasize or highlight something without actually directly speaking to the individuals. It’s a way of trying to public shame behavior and hope others will fall in line… instead of actually speaking to the person directly. That’s why it’s passive aggressive… because someone is bothered and upset and won’t just address it directly.

Sure, but this topic wasn’t about setting up rules for an event, or events by even one person… it was a plea to list and ostracize behavior that bothers someone hoping that the discussion would alter other people’s perception of what behavior is acceptable or not.

If its ‘your’ event… deal with it and the players. But I really believe this is not about ‘how should I run my event’ but its people trying to complain about how other events are being ran and what is tolerated. But rather than just say it… they dance around it.

If you do things I don’t find acceptable at my event - you’ll be dealt with. I mean for crying out loud… 99% of events are dealing with people who paid $0-$10 to participate. If someone is going to start WWIII about being removed from a $5 event… then I probably don’t want you around in the first place.

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Unrelated to the above comments, but where do you live that pinball attracts such drama? Seattle has the largest scene in the world and I can think of two people who aren’t welcome. Out of 1000 players. What do the scenes around pool and darts look like? Killer Queen?

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I make our conduct rules known at the beginning of an event along with the penalty for such offenses. Then I enforce them. As long as they are spelled out and consistent player-to-player and event-to-event, there shouldn’t be a problem.

On the other hand, when I go to another TDs event, I like the player conduct rules to be discussed so I know what to expect. For example, my events are at a bar. Drop the F-bomb and no one cares. At another event that might not be acceptable and as long as I’m aware of that beforehand, there isn’t a problem.

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Exactly - it all boils down to COMMUNICATION

Then let people decide if they fit or do not. The ‘acceptable line’ will adapt based on what the community drives through their participation or not.

But it will never work if people do not COMMUNICATE - and that means in person too.

If a TD doesn’t know what or how to communicate in person it will be ineffective. We’ve learned some of these from this post. I do agree that direct communication rather than indirect (passive aggressive) is more affective but that is just one of the many puzzle pieces to improve conduct in an event/s.

Couple months ago I was playing in a tournament where my opponent pulled some straight-up sexist shit. I called him on it, he said he didn’t care. I immediately told the TD about it, and he dealt with it by talking to the player and warning him that this behavior and language was unacceptable.

But you know what? I didn’t want to play anymore. I didn’t want to be there at all. I half-heartedly finished my game and left.

Now imagine if I was a newer player. Would I ever want to come back? That’s why threads like this exist. No one is trying to “shame” players into not acting like jerks; this is tournament directors asking other tournament directors how to best handle situations so as to make their local scene better.

I would ask that those who disagree with the premise of these threads simply move past them, as a lot of people are finding value in the discussion. Constantly being contrarian for the sake of argument only boosts the signal-to-noise ratio.


Just for the sake of argument, it lowers the signal-to-noise ratio. :smiling_imp:


I do strongly believe there is a place for us to discuss in this forum what we feel is and isn’t appropriate behavior at events, and how to handle problematic personalities. That said,@flynnibus is 100% correct when he points out that at some point this needs to start with two human beings getting together and hashing it out. I’ve had plenty of these situations over the years. Some have ended with a green light going over the other person’s head and them taking real steps to tone it down. Some have … not. Either way though, this is how the process has to start. If it escalates from there then so be it, but to bypass that step and just go straight to something else isn’t really fair to anyone.


I think we all see toxic behaviour (Canadian spelling) at events. I was so thrilled Saturday when I ran 2 events (MatchPlay and Munsters launch) with 42 people, and not one issue. Everyone was great, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t worried a bit prior the event. It’s unfortunate when just a few can ruin it for the masses. Luckily, all was great.


So, Elizabeth, in the situation you described… what would you liked to have seen the TD do to make the scene better?

I think a general statement at the beginning of the tournament about proper behavior would have maybe helped. This player also has a history, so it would theoretically have been appropriate to pull that person aside and tell them that that behavior won’t be tolerated.

There are other factors that played into this particular situation, but as a player I was left feeling shitty and I will never go back to that location.

Every situation is different, obviously, but that’s the point of these threads. If there are general tips that tournament directors can take away and apply to their situation, it’s a helpful discussion.


I don’t disagree with @flynnibus who is saying direct feedback is better than passive feedback. The point of this post is that there are opportunities for myself and other TD’s to have pro-active direct feedback PRIOR to their event starting regarding proper conduct. Set the expectations UPFRONT which should reduce or hopefully eliminate the need for reactionary direct feedback later in the event.

IMO TD’s get focused on registering participants, reviewing the rules etc. etc. and reviewing “proper” conduct is never even addressed PRIOR and UPFRONT. I think WE as players/directors/ambassadors of competitive pinball can improve upon this communication.


Then I’d humbly ask you to go back and read the opening post of this thread… which had nothing about querying people about how to handle situations, but explicitly asked to outline behaviors hoping that readers would see it and change. In fact, the OP proceeded to list some of the behaviors that peeved him.

I would ask… what was brought up in this thread that was new, unique or different than the prior threads on the matter? Literally the first 30 posts of the thread are just saying what’s always been said. Make your expectations known up front… your definition of something is likely not the same as others…

It wasn’t until zoe tried to steer it that way in response to gogarsupperlip’s posts that the discussion of ‘sharing and collaborating’ on ideas was even mentioned.

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Which is exactly what i said… if you want to set a expectation of behavior, its to YOU (or whomever the organizers are) to establish and make known what the line is. Getting a consensus in the echo chamber of tiltforums is not going to steer random-joe’s behavior at your neighborhood bar. We are seeing more new blood flowing into the hobby at rates greater than I’ve seen in the nearly 25 years I’ve been involved with organized pinball. If you want to influence what they see the hobby as, you must be proactive, because chatting about it on a forum of the same 30 people isn’t going to be seen by the new bloods. We must also accept that yours/mine/whomever’s standard may not be the default of other peoples. That’s why you communicate to manage expectations.

People need to stop thinking they can force others to change - you should simply define your limits and let nature take its course. You can’t dictate to people how to feel or think… only influence them.

The problem with today’s society is people can’t just let others be… they feel that disagreement means they -must- convert, or at least shame the other side hoping they can force them to change. Sometimes, different is just fine.

Here’s a thought… instead of getting everyone into IFPA for the low admission price of simply handing over your email… why not encourage a model where participants must read and acknowledge a straight forward ‘pledge’ on what their behavior will be as participants in IFPA sponsored activities?

Most competitive organizations have such models where members agree to and acknowledge a philosophy or set of principles that bind their organization together.

I’m not saying this is the IFPA rules… but what you are trying to do is set guiding PRINCIPLES and mindset in players about how they approach the competition, approach others, and respect those around them. That’s what these kinds of things are about… and you follow them up with how those ideals are pushed and enforced through your ruleset.

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But then you’re back to the earlier problem where there aren’t many meaningful standards across different events. I guess you could standardize on “don’t do anything illegal”, which would cover things like assault, but hopefully we don’t have to get to that level of hand-holding (and even with such a seemingly simple policy: some locations turn a blind eye to, say, pot use, even if it’s illegal in the jurisdiction).

Beyond that, it’s clear that there’s a very wide range of what behavior is considered acceptable from one event to the next regarding language, machine abuse, alcohol use, smoking/vaping, etc etc etc… so ultimately it’s just up to each TD to clearly announce what the standards are for their event, and how violations will be enforced.

And of course, even with that, it’s difficult. How explicit do we need to be? Does a TD really need to announce “Please don’t be sexist. Also, please don’t be racist. Also, please don’t be homophobic. Also… etc etc etc” Don’t really want to turn the start of an event into a Terms & Conditions document. I suspect in the end, people who want to be asses (like Elizabeth’s player with a “history”) will find ways to do so, and the rest – hopefully the vast majority – will be good to each other.