Toxic Behavior Continues in 2019

With respect, I don’t think that’s appropriate. It feels punitive to single someone out at the beginning of a tournament, even if that’s done in private. The player could easily be left feeling like they are being watched, and that’s going to end up uncomfortable for everyone.

Even if the intent is to keep an eye on the player in question, I think it’s best left to start-of-tournament announcements to all participants, perhaps with extra clarity given that player’s presence, then just put them on a shorter leash. Going further, if this player’s history is really that bad, then perhaps they shouldn’t be participating at all.

Point 1 is to raise awareness. When you look at a ‘code of conduct’ type of proclamation or pledge… it’s not about the detailed behaviors - it’s about the morals and beliefs you cherish or promote. That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about. The ideas of respecting others, clean competition, etc etc… not ‘no cursing, no drinking’ etc.

That’s my belief - but many posts on here would say otherwise regarding what is an acceptable standard. These threads repeatedly crash into the same wall over and over. People wanting everyone to conform to their expectation of behavior and labeling non-conforming something bad… while others promote a “you can’t converge on one” platform like you just outlined. You say “its clear” - I would argue there isn’t a consensus though and the reformists are persistent.

And that’s why I suggested maybe the point is to set the expectation of your priorities… rather than focus on the line item banned behaviors. Leave the line items to the rules - but make sure everyone understands the KIND of environment you are encouraging.

When someone understand the kind of environment, you can infer a lot. If someone were expecting a religious, church type situation… most would infer swearing, loud, exaggerated, drinking, etc would be frowned upon. Maybe that’s what needs to be happening… is people making sure they outline what kind of environment they are trying to encourage.

If that means ‘kid friendly’ or ‘in tune with the location’s noise level’ or whatever.

I don’t think we need to debate on if someone needs to read every rule up front (because we know they won’t) - but you can with reasonable coverage, communicate your expectations of decorum and people can infer a ton from that. Then just highlight the few behaviors you expect some might not clue in on right away… glass smashing, rage tilt, etc.


Yeah, I don’t necessarily disagree with you, and it’s not something I’ve done. This subject is a sticky wicket and a hard one to tackle.


I think if you build up enough of a rapport with the community that can make something like this easier. It’s also good practice on being assertive, if that’s something you might have trouble with. Clear communication of your expectations of their behavior specifically.

I’ll echo Elizabeth in saying make sure to do this in private. I’d even go as far as to thank the person for their positive behavior after the tournament is over in private in a genuine non-condescending tone.


If anyone is curious about what a written code of conduct might look like, here are the relevant sections from Seattle’s bar league. This also exists mostly on the website. It’s not a document you sign or presented verbally at any time to the players in the league. It also references PAPA and IFPA player conduct rules. In practice the conduct rules are pretty lax. I’ve never actually seen them even mentioned, but I’ve also never seen them violated in any major way. Marijuana is ultra commonly used, as we are a recreational state and this was the case at the vast majority of pinball events long before it was formally legal. The only exception I’m aware of is some of the events held at people’s houses in our other league and that still might be the case today even after legalization.

Seattle’s Monday Night Pinball league has established a set of five core values that best define the spirit of the league, and are used to navigate decision making. The values are:

  • Sportsmanship
  • Community
  • Learning
  • Competition
  • Fun

We encourage players to keep all five values in mind as a basis for their participation in the league.

Player Conduct

All players should read the IFPA/PAPA Player Conduct rules, listed in Section III here:

We are all guests of the bars that host our matches, so we must behave like guests. If a player displays unsportsmanlike conduct or threatens the safety of any individual or machine, then that player should be reported to a league official. The league will investigate the incident and, if necessary, disciplinary action will commence. Mild infractions will incur a warning, while extreme misconduct or repeated infractions will result in suspension or expulsion from the league.

Monday Night Pinball prohibits discrimination or harassment of any kind and will strive to create a safe and fun environment for all participants. Any threats or intimidation of other players or teams will not be tolerated. Any league member who has experienced or witnessed harassment, discrimination, or violence toward another league member or guest, or believes a particular person, team, or location creates an unsafe environment for any reason should contact the league immediately. All league members have a responsibility to submit complaints to their captain or to the MNP board in a timely manner. The league encourages prompt reporting of all incidents, regardless of who the offender may be.

In the event that a formal complaint is submitted to the league, an impartial investigation into the complaint will begin. This investigation will be kept confidential to the best extent possible, and will be conducted by the MNP board. Every reasonable effort will be made to rationally, objectively, and promptly resolve all complaints. At the end of the investigation period a ruling will be made by the board.

Any league member who is found to be in violation of the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action as determined by the league board. This action may include suspension or expulsion from the league. Any league member who is found to have initiated a false complaint at the end of an investigation may also be subject to disciplinary action.

The staff or management at any location has the right to evict any player from the location at any time. Should that happen, that player is disqualified from their current game if they are in the middle of a game, and cannot play in any subsequent round that night, nor can they remain on the premises. Any player that is evicted from a location,whether it be that night only or a longer period of time, will automatically incur a disciplinary review by the board. Captains are responsible for reporting such incidents to league officials within 24 hours of the incident, which should include their best assessment of what happened.


Coaching of teammates is encouraged. However, coaching or any verbal communication to your opponent while they are playing is considered interference, and is not allowed.

Exception: per IFPA rules is if there’s a stuck ball during multiball, an opposing player can say “stuck ball” loud enough for the player to recognize it.

When coaching a player who is actively playing, that player must still adhere to IFPA/PAPA rule of not delaying more than 30 seconds while discussing or taking instruction from a teammate coaching them. If they do, the delay of game rules as described in the IFPA/PAPA rule are in effect.

Death Saves and Bang Backs

Techniques known as “Death Saves” and “Bang Backs” are not permitted during match play. However, should the drained ball bounce back into play without deliberate player action, the ball may be played. A player caught ATTEMPTING one of these techniques during match play will forfeit their score.

Exception: if the machine has a post with rubber in areas after the ball drained whose purpose is to provide the player a final chance to regain the ball, then in those cases only, the player can attempt to nudge the ball when it gets to the post. Notable machines with such features include Centaur with posts in each outlane and a gate to let ball in, the right-side post on Indy Jones for narrow escape, and the center post that is close to drain on Xenon.


@Shep and myself violate this every time we play each other. I’d hope this would only be enforced if someone actually complained.


Any rules enforcement system is only as good as it’s detection system, so if it’s players that need to report it you should be fine unless you’re using it in malice.

People do the same in the PPL, and nobody gets in trouble for it. I’m curious as to your use of coaching banter though! :grin:

1 Like

No coaching, just catching up on everything… full on conversations while playing, everything from state of the industry to conditions of the games we’re playing right now.


Well, I hope to stand next to you on a pinball machine at some point then. :slightly_smiling_face:

Nothing says “travelling PPL league night” like a group discussion on the merits of Hardbody.


Our league rules have a specific exception to the IFPA/PAPA rules that state coaching and talking is fine if the player asks for assistance and the ball is stopped. If a player asks you not to talk or not to stand in their line of sight then doing it again is interference and a yellow card.

It is important to call that out though, because by default coaching is explicitly disallowed in the generally accepted “standard” rules.


I don’t think coaching once the game is started is a good idea for a number of reasons. With all the resources we have available today, there’s no excuse for stepping up to a game without a clue. Pintips can give you great clues in less that a minute. Secondly, it takes longer. If a player cradles up, then asks a friend for help, everyone else in that group has to wait. Leagues are generally held on week nights. The rest of us don’t want to stand around while you’re trying to figure out what to do. Lastly, we’ve lost new players in league simply because someone has talked to them while playing. The talkers intentions are always good, but new players are intimidated enough just being there. Trying to play and comprehend what someone behind you is telling you is too much for new players.

I’ll tell anyone everything I know about a game, but not once the game has started. And even though you think you’re helping when making comments to a noob while they’re playing, you’re not. Leave them alone.

Getting back on topic, if nothing else, these threads are a good place for unpaid TD’s to let off some steam. You folks put up with a lot of crap for zero pay. It is greatly appreciated. Thank you.


The whole point of the league is to make shitty players into better players. I’ve done nearly everything short of making physical contact with them or the game if it’s clear they’re one shot away from multiball and have no idea it’s lit. We also put them on the Medieval Madness’ or AFM’s of the world. We also have an A and B Division. Some of our best players choose to play in B because it’s more low-key and you get to coach people, but it’s basically a party league in both divisions. Very few teams care if you show up after a few beers and drop a few more during play.

I think there’s a number of major cities in which the top ten best players could challenge our top ten. It’s probably true for the top twenty as well. But Seattle has everyone beat in spades with top 30 or top 50 players, partially because we invest a ton of time in welcoming people to the scene and making them not terrible.


Coaching one opponent in a 4P game unfairly hurts the other two players’ chances of winning. Not good, even if you’re just trying to help.

You did.

Cluck-cluck-cluck-cka cluck-cluck-cluck-cka cluck-cluck-cluck—cluck—cluck… :chicken::chicken::chicken:


I know I said I would leave but I need to say this then I can leave again. Flynnibus is hitting part of the nail right on the head here but saying it in probably a more PC way. This site is not really all that conducive to differences of opinion in my experience on matters of this nature. Black and white things - Yes but the middle ground stuff which is more personal preference or desires, not so much. If you vocalize that of what is perceived as not the majority you are talked down to or belittled while others cheer the fact that you are being shunned. You are also told repeatedly to just move on if you don’t like what is being said or discussed. Proof in point,

“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”

Those that disagree with the premise of these types of threads shouldn’t be encouraged to move along. They should be encouraged to vocalize why they disagree and support their reasoning. This is why I no longer participate in these types of discussions as I have in the past. It feels as though people only want to hear what supports their stance and want to censor what doesn’t.

As for these types of topics, yes they are changing things, and in my opinion not in good ways. More and more events I go to now are considering things infractions that are part of competitive pinball IMHO. Example. In a finals situation I will 100% ALWAYS make enough of a move to save my ball 3 if my bonus will not be big enough to supersede my competitors score. I don’t care if it’s a 1 inch slide or a 4 inch slide of the machine. If it tilts, it tilts and I’ve lost nothing but sitting their and watching a ball go out an outlane or SDTM is not a smart competitive move in those situations. This act is now being considered “rage tilting” but I will argue it’s never a rage tilt if the ball is above the outane switch or flippers. I’ve been warned now by 3 different TD’s for it and got a yellow card for this. Ironically the ball hit my flipper after the slide that I got the card for but the game tilted. My stance is I never know if I could get away with it or not as we have all seen games take moves that most would agree was a tilt for the tilt not to happen.

I will not argue the rulings with TD’s and if they want to give me cards for this I’ll take my 2 and leave but it’s things like this that I DO NOT feel is for the better of the sport. Bring up the (I think it was) congo video of Josh Sharpe or any other move like that as proof it’s a smart move. It’s not hurting a game either unless you have rubber feet on it for which doing that in of itself is causing more risk to harm than anything a player would do on a carpet or concrete floor. I know why the TD ruled in this fashion as they felt it was a frustration move but that was not the full reason of the effort.

These are the things we SHOULD be talking about. But everyone always wants to go back to the obvious (sexism, racism, violence, etc…) thus why people like Flynnibus and I find no value in the threads in general.

Last point - IMHO this is an issue and a deterrent to pinball. I don’t think it’s nearly as big as most feel it is though. To me the biggest deterrent to pinball growth is our own ability to not pay attention. New players don’t like sitting around or waiting for you to finish your conversation before you play your ball, or watch an E level player wait 3 mins after a tilt to play their ball to “let the plum bob settle” or have to wait at their game for 5 mins because you needed a beer. I’ve brought several people over the years to my local leagues and not one of them has come back after more than a couple events. Their #1 complaint was not that atmosphere but the standing around, I call it babysitting, of other players. Example, last night I played in an event. 4 player games where we played 7 matches. Only 1 of those matches did someone not have to go walking around the arcade or outside to find our 4th player so we could get started. Yes, their are rules for this but they are almost never enforced and when you do enforce them you are the arrogant ass that’s taking away the fun.


In the seattle MNP example tho… that is the competition. It’s team vs team.

I think @Hepatitis_B_Good’s post do a good job highlighting that there is more than one format… and more than one view on where one draws the line on what behavior is good or not. But it drives home the point that it’s not measured against a universal standard - it’s measured against the intention and environment the organizers have setup.

I like the point about ‘core values’ too - and that’s what I was trying to get across in my earlier posts. You can get a larger group of people to agree on a set of shared values and your standards should follow through those values. When people understand and are in agreement with the same values… the finer detail rules will be more natural to follow and be in alignment with.

@metallik might not understand the format. There are four matches a night, two head to head and two two on two team games. It’s so ultra casual that the opponents will occasionally assist in coaching. No one is going to be screaming in your face while you’re playing your ball. The vast majority of coaching takes place between balls and before the game. It’s not for WPPRs, it’s not for money, it’s pinball for the sake of it. Even the teams that win don’t get individual trophies. You get a balsa wood Space Needle to take up valuable counter space in your bar. And when you lose we take it away.

To some degree I feel there is a fundamental cultural difference between Seattle and other places in terms of pinball. And sometimes the organizer or establishment is laughably out of step with the people attending the event. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Portland’s largest tournament had a rule where you couldn’t show up high. Or smelling like marijuana. Portland. There’s like five needles and a pile of human feces in the parking lot but you can’t smoke weed at Pinbrawl. That’s probably the ownership more than the event organizers but it struck everyone I know with even a passing familiarity with pinball in the Pacific Northwest as either hopelessly naive or just fucking weird.

But different rules for different scenes in different towns. What plays in Peoria might not play in Orlando. I do think the Monday Night Pinball rules and code of conduct are more or less comprehensive. Geoff, the founder, borrowed a bit from the NYC league, and they borrowed from some others. I still think if you’re handing out multiple yellow cards a match there’s a cultural problem, perhaps on the player side, perhaps on the organizer side, but I can confidently say I’ve played in well north of 100 tournaments and have never seen a player actively disciplined during an event. A few are no longer welcome, but that’s out of literally a thousand individuals. On the whole, pinball kids are the safest, sanest and most well behaved people I know, and I’m more than a bit surprised that other scenes are having issues on what seems to be a daily basis.

I checked with Denver and LA, Denver has never ejected anyone, LA had one issue discussed elsewhere. A headline like Toxic Behavior Continues in 2019 doesn’t reflect the reality of most players, most bars, or most scenes.

I feel like whatever is going on in the toxic scenes might be better addressed by privately speaking to other experienced tournament organizers, because no code of conduct is going to make any difference to shitty people. And it’s inappropriate to address individual player conduct on a public forum. That is unless that player is dangerous in a physical sense.

I’m not sure who qualifies as an expert in these matters, or is a “highly qualified tournament organizer” but could someone volunteer to help on a discreet and individual basis? Or like five of you?


Yea I’m talking about 4 individual players, not teams. Teams coaching each other shouldn’t matter.

Nah, things are pretty chill here in Cincy as well, especially the league. We have fun :slight_smile:


I know this is beside the main point of your post, but as someone who has helped to assist with Pinbrawl, I’m pretty sure this is just false. The only announcement I recall about smoking weed was don’t do it in the building or in the parking lot. That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request. It’s really just Ground Kontrol covering their ass as it could put their liquor license in jeopardy otherwise.

1 Like

If I exaggerated it was only slightly. And I haven’t been to Pinbrawl in… three years? Four? However, I assure you Pinbrawl posted a full paragraph. A paragraph. About even showing up high. It was a hot topic of conversation in Seattle at least.

1 Like