Hopefully not a repeat thread! I always like hearing about how people get into things, what kicks off that “wow, I need more of this” reaction. Was it the first time you got multiball? Was it seeing a pro hit wizard mode? Or was it all those hours you spent playing Space Cadet instead of doing homework? What fired up the passion?
Mine was the first time we went to the Pinball Museum here in Seattle, which is a paid-entry system with all games on free play. Since I didn’t have to worry about goofing up and having to put more quarters in, I was free to experiment and take risky shots, and I realized I could actually aim the ball. What really lit me up was Taxi - I think my best game I got two passengers, but it was like the whole concept of pinball suddenly came together.
My label contributed a lot of music for The Video Craze, a documentary about video arcade collecting. I decided I needed an arcade machine in my house so I looked on Craigslist and bought a Street Fighter 2. I ended up converting it into a MAME cabinet and tried to get my wife interested in playing some vids with me, she wasn’t. I decided that adding a pinball machine to my newly envisioned game room would be cool and I thought my wife would enjoy playing pinball more than vids, she didn’t.
I had to fix some minor issues but, as soon as I got it up and running I was hooked. I didn’t know anything about pinball. I had no idea there were rules and techniques for ball control etc, but luckily I found all of the papa vimeo videos and started applying what I learned from watching them. I played my game for a few months and found out about a local arcade pinballz. I joined a league and haven’t looked back. I’m totally addicted now and have more games than room!
I guess I was always into it. My passion towards competitive play didn’t really begin until I discovered PAPA and their tutorials. And that was after the initial spark from Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection for Wii.
I know I’ve said this at least a few times in the past … But it was my mom and dad gettin in on
I have always enjoyed pinball, but we never had many arcades around here so after the mid '90s pins pretty much disappeared completely, at least in my eyes. In 2011, I was out running some errands one day and stumbled upon an Avatar by Stern. I put some money in, dug the aesthetics and action (the Ampsuit multiball start was really cool), and I apparently enjoyed it enough to find myself coming back for the next month or two just to play that game. Later I decided to run a Google search for “pinball” in my area and low and behold, there was a bar down the street with about 14 pins. Once I checked out that place, I don’t think I’ve gone without pinball for more than a week or two since–it’s been close to five years now.
I grew up with a couple of machines in my house - Eight Ball (EM) and EBD. Some of my fondest, and earliest memories are either playing with my dad at home, or going to the arcade with him.
So you could say I’ve always had the bug.
That Eight Ball is still in storage down in Florida…one day, I’ll bring it north and restore it.
1993-funhouse/addams family at the bowling alley
2007-JM/Roadshow at a pizza place i worked at (learned how to trap/dead bouce/rules of game)
2012-found out funhouse was on the pinball arcade (learned how to post pass)
2013-watched special when lit then decided to go to a tournament/travel to papa
Short version: when we got a Stern Spiderman at work.
Longer version: In university, juggling was my passion. Ran the local club, went to festivals, read rec.juggling every day. After grad school, when I started working finding it.e to practice became hard and I lost the social aspect of being around other jugglers.
At work we moved into a new building and got a Stern Spiderman. It was new, everyone was learning and building skills together. Immediately Pinball felt just like juggling. It is hard to describe, but it is something to do with the soft focus required for multiball, the rythmic timing for flow play, the crazy saves. I was immediately hooked, it was like juggling, but with points and lights and sound effects.
Many years ago I used to play Dance Dance Revolution in the arcades (If you’ve only known me from pinball, don’t laugh! I used to weigh 130 lbs :P). This was at a time when DDR was so popular that there were almost hour-long lines to play. You’d put your card or tokens or whatever up on the machine to save your spot in line then go do something else. I played pinball. Years later when a friend opened up an arcade with a Medieval Madness in it, he saw me playing and told me about the Seattle Pinball League. I think it took almost a year for him to convince me to go, but eventually I did and I’ve been playing pinball ever since. At first it was hard because I wasn’t 21 and I could only play at all-ages locations. At the start, there wasn’t even Full Tilt Ice Cream (which is still the best spot to play pinball in Seattle), and I was basically limited to playing MB and WCS in a pizza place and MM in a board game themed cafe which was always a little weird). Of course, Full Tilt opened (and then eventually got a great operator) and that changed everything. Freshman year of college, I was playing 4-5 hours literally every night. It was bad. Fast forward 4 more years and here we are. Of course I’m now 22 and I can play anywhere but amusingly enough I ended up moving just a few blocks away from Full Tilt and it’s remained my primary pinball spot!
~2 years ago a local bar put in an Addams Family machine, which led to me installing Pinball Arcade so I could play more machines at home, which led to me quickly being dissatisfied with video pinball and finding Pinball Wizards in NH, which led to me somehow (maybe in looking for places to play?) stumbling across the New England Pinball League. So far everything I’ve done competitively has spun directly from that league- playing in the league, playing in league-associated tournaments, then hearing how much fun people had at Pinburgh.
2005 - Played Hurricane at an amusement park in Maine
2006 - Got PHOF Gottlieb as a birthday present - played it for a year and lost interest
2011 - Heard about Pinball Arcade then promptly forgot
2012 - Was bored on a rainy day when I had discovered it released, I promptly bought it
2013 - Started playing real pinball more often
2015 - Attended my first pinball expo and started playing in a local league
I’m an old fart now but my passion for pinball started while I was in high school. My buddy and I would run down the hill during lunch hour to the local restaurant that had a EM machine. $.10 for one play. 3 plays for a quarter. Bought an EM machine when I was in my 30’s and played the hell out of it. Finally bought my first SS game (WCS) in the mid-nineties. Got tired of paying for what I know now are routine repairs and started learning how to repair machines. From there I went on to restoring machines that had been given up for dead. I’ve probably gone through 50 machines +/- in my lifetime.
I’m retired now but still have two machines that I play almost daily; WoZ & LOTR. I prefer the deep rule sets and trying to get to the end game. My LOTR has been to Valinor twice but I have yet to see Somewhere Over the Rainbow on my WoZ. Can’t seem to get past the Rescue multiball.
A long bowling waiting list. Seriously. I’ve been a bowler since I was in grade school. I’m sure they had pinball at the bowling alleys I frequented, but I never paid any attention to it at the time. It wasn’t until college … one weekend night, the waiting list to get a lane in the student union was really long. Long enough that I didn’t want to just sit around until it was our turn. The game room there had 8 lanes, plus pool tables, ping-pong, and this room in between the two with coin machines - - pinballs and a foosball table. The pool and ping-pong tables also had long waiting lists, so those weren’t options that night either. Ah, what the heck, I’ll try these games. Hey, this ain’t half bad. Maybe I’ll try it again next week. I did. And the foosball, too, and this brand new thing called air hockey that just came out. [There was one video game, too: Pong. I looked at it, didn’t want to try it.] Once I got to like them, I was highly motivated to get better at all three. Each was cheaper the better you were - - the pinball part is obvious, more so because this was upstate New York where free games were illegal - - extra balls only, so playing all night on a dime was never an option [well, one exception, but that’s for another thread]. For air hockey and foosball, the etiquette was “challenger buys,” so winning meant playing for free until you lost. I found that my right arm got tired playing air hockey game after game, so I learned to switch hands against weaker opponents to rest it to keep the winning streak going longer.
There was no particular machine that got me hooked; I can remember a few of the games we had there, but none of the ones I first played was special to me at the time. As games go, the ones we had were bland. There’s nothing exciting about Pop-A-Card, Cow Poke or Yukon. Granada was about the “flashiest” thing we had, which ain’t saying much.
The “what got me hooked competitively” story best belongs in the “sweet moments” thread.
I wonder how much of the pinball resurgence can be attributed solely to the pinball arcade video games? Several people here have already cited it.
I don’t know what drew me to the Williams Collection for Wii. I think I was just looking for something cheap and fun and read about it online and then picked it up at a local gamestop. I never played that much pinball out in the real world and part of that was because I had no idea about rule sets, objectives, and scoring. I introduced the Williams Collection to a friend and it rekindled his fondness for pinball and he started seeking out local pinball shows and Stern launch tournaments (I think the first one we went to was the Transformers launch party). When the first Kidforce league started in Cleveland, he convinced me to join and I have personally recruited several other players to our local leagues and tournaments who, in turn, have recruited others.
Wish I could recall lol. Been playing as long as I can remember! Started taking it more seriously in the mid 90s when I could actually start driving out to tournaments
I had always assumed you were just waiting for your mullet to grow out to a certain length before you started competing
It wasn’t a ‘Wow I need more of this’ moment. More like a "It’s gonna be a long boring summer unless we find something to do’ moment. Me and my buddy had two large arcades within biking distance, so that’s what we did all summer. One arcade was in a western-themed amusement park, Frontier Village. The fences were low, so we jumped the fence most days and hung out in the arcade playing game like El Dorado, Bow and Arrow and Aquarius.
When we ran out of money, we’d steal change from the wishing well at the park. If we didn’t have any money before heading there, we’d prowl the local neighborhood looking for open garages with returnable coke bottles inside. We got a nickel for 16 ounce bottles and a dime for 32 ounce bottles. Good money back then. We almost got caught a few times, but it was worth it.
About the only thing I miss from those days was never knowing what you would find at the arcade. There was no internet, so new games just showed up. It was awesome. These days, unless it’s a Stern, you hear about it years before you can play one. Lame.
I remember feeling buyers remorse for a few days after I bought my first game. I think that lasted a until I got my first Jackpot.
I was walking past the local arcade (Bumpernets in AL) and saw some pins. I thought to myself: “Why do they call them pinball wizards? Can it really be that hard?”
Less than a minute later I had drained all three balls. I was hooked. This was a little over a year ago and I’m now on my fourth league, 8th in the state, and attending state finals this Saturday. I’ve also owned and fixed up 3 pins in that time. Hell, I’m even helping develop a pinball app.