What happened at the end of the women's NW finals?


Totally agree with this, she never touches the top right button. I recall her saying the top left button wasn’t working; she also told the TD that she knows how to play Snarf. I’m hopeful we get to hear her side of this!


We offered you a permanent spot in the booth if you made it out :slight_smile:

In all seriousness, the commentators did want to be there, and were commenting on the pinball… there just so happened to be a video mode, and since something odd was happening on the screen (only going left and right), the natural reaction is to comment on it…

We’ll be reviewing the stream (and everyone should too) for anything that was perhaps inappropriate, and correct ourselves for future broadcasts. We value all feedback and constructive criticism, and are all striving towards the same goal.

I’ll take the blame for the RoadShow thing, that was all me. Everyone was telling me “No dude, people will freak out if we switch games!” and I thought, incorrectly, that perhaps people wanted to see a quick cutaway for an important tie breaker game to get into the finals. That was my fault, and I apologize. We were all trying VERY hard to give the women’s final the respect it deserves. It’s a shame that things turned out the way they did, and have it overshadow the immense streaming effort and tournament effort put in by all throughout the weekend.


I’m still catching up on this thread but it’s clear that the buttons were working for Snarf since there was no problem for Melissa. And on top of that, JM is NOT common in Seattle. We had one on location for about 6 months at the 8 Bit so it’s not like every Seattle player is an expert. Jarrett can come off as condescending sometimes but I think his intentions were good. Also, I wouldn’t call this a private conversation considering the size of that room. And from what I heard, Jarrett wasn’t an official TD anyways. I think in the future, let’s get a woman in on the commentary and for now, let’s not blow this out of proportion.


It’s a crappy situation and I do think it’s unfair you guys are getting singled out and I didn’t mean to pile on - just offering my observations / critique. Reviewing the tape is always a good idea and I’m sure the next one will be better.


Hi everyone. Those of us involved in the situation have shared our feedback directly with the event organizers. Thanks for your concern, and we’d be happy to discuss further once we’ve had a chance to talk directly with the organizers. This thread is hella wild speculation and I’d encourage everyone to step away for now.


I just read the comment about a zine article. How is that at all fair when the TDs asked the players to tell them what they did wrong and no one would open up about it? The other side doesn’t get a chance to defend themselves or chime in with their perspective if someone just up and prints their side in a zine. That’s really not the best idea.


At risk of derailing this thread with a slightly more positive topic (and having to share the game), as of last week there is a very nice JM at Fitzgerald’s.


Who are the commentators on the stream?


Hi, I’m the commentator on the right in the video. I’ve been mulling over what happened all yesterday and this morning. Here’s some factual clarifications and my thoughts:

  • Jarrett, the person sitting next to me, was the TD for women’s finals. He is not part of the normal tournament staff. He volunteered to TD the finals since all staff who would normally have done it were in Classics finals in another room at the other end of the venue at the time.
  • It is clear from the footage and our subsequent testing that Nycole simply didn’t hit the blue buttons. Our commentary on that may have been glib, but I’m friendly with Nycole and in conversations with her afterward she did not have a problem with it. Note that after playing the video mode she blew up the game anyway, and we acknowledged that. I do not think it’s reasonable to say we only assumed her ignorance because she’s female. If a male Seattle player with similar background were in that situation I would have the same thought. As has already been said, JM has not been available on location here in half a decade.
  • Nycole was either playing or in the bathroom during the incident, so she didn’t notice Zoe had plunge-drained her ball 3 and proceeded to play like normal. She professed not to know what had upset the other finalists.
  • Earlier in the stream, a viewer asked if there were prizes for the women’s finals. I sarcastically told them there were no prizes, and then said what the prizes actually were. Since then I’ve learned that women’s events have a history of having no payouts. Given that information, the joke was callous and I wouldn’t make it again.
  • When Germain IM’d me that there had been complaints about sexist comments from the commentators, I interpreted it to mean the complaints were from stream viewers. That’s why I brought it up on stream, saying anyone who thought we’d said something hurtful should feel free to mention it. In hindsight, that was a mistake. However, it’s hard to avoid discussing such an event on stream given that multiple players decided they did not want to play out their games.
  • Discussing Jarrett’s attempts to talk to Zoe on the stream was unprofessional. I think we were both so startled by what Melissa had just said to us that we weren’t sure how to handle it. I’ve operated and commentated 30-40 hours of pinball broadcasts in the area at this point, and an altercation between me and the players has never come up before, so I was caught off guard, and I know Jarrett was frazzled as well.
  • I did want to be there and stream the women’s finals, which is why I was willing to get up at 8 after getting home at 1AM to go do so. Please understand that we’re amateurs running the broadcast for the benefit of tournament pinball and interested players who couldn’t be there in person. Technical problems, confusion about what to cover, and other mistakes should be expected. As Kayla posted, having a woman help commentate would have been a great improvement, but few people were at the venue at the time and those who were were spectating Classics finals. Trying to secure someone for commentary ahead of time would be a good idea in the future.
  • Like Zoe just mentioned, everything in this thread is conjecture from people who were not present. Until we’ve gotten feedback from the involved players, there’s no real point to this speculation.

This is my perspective right now. I apologize for being unprofessional, the incident has been a learning experience. Overall, I felt the event and broadcast went well and I look forward to future tournaments and streams.


Kayla, potential zine article will address sexism for women in pinball in general as to help prevent future negative situations. It will not showcase a play by play from the events of what transpired.


I’m new to Tilt Forums but I’ve read through many of the old posts and found them incredibly helpful and enjoyable reads. The content was excellent but the civility of the discourse made it easy to churn through topic after topic. That being said, I was disheartened that when issues of gender were brought up there was a near certainty that the topic would get heated and about the only topics that became heated related to issues of gender. We need to think to ourselves why this is and ”play better” so to speak.

W/r/t/ the NWPC Women’s’ Final we are talking about our friends and acquaintances here. We care about them and are protective of them. I think we can agree that none of these are bad people and in fact are largely good people putting in time and effort to do good things for pinball. Vilifying anyone here is counterproductive and derails the conversation because we already know that these are not villains these are people we care about.

I thought that the NWPC was a very well run event and before 10am on Sunday I would have said “Wow this whole thing has gone off without a hitch!” I hope we can agree, however, that sexism marred what would otherwise have been an amazing Women’s Final. I know I was there and was part of the problem when I sat there blathering on like an idiot to one of the players about the minutiae of scoring possibilities until I got called out with something along the lines of “Yeah we know, we don’t need you.” Ugh, I did that thing. And I know better.

We are not perfect. No one expects perfection. We should endeavour to improve. I am glad we are talking about an important issue to our pinball community. Let’s be mindful about how we talk about it. Pointing out here frame by frame instances of what was said, what was intended, who pushed what buttons and publicly naming our friends and acquaintances and arguing about whether each individual instance was or was not sexist will not help us improve. The event organizers and the players will hash out the specifics and come to a resolution. I think what happened at the NWPC and conversations like the one in this post gives us the opportunity to improve all future events, big and small, and to make them more enjoyable and welcoming for everybody.


Zach, this is perhaps the most well written response I’ve ever seen in these forums. kudos.


I’ve read through the posts, and I’m still confused about what exactly happened. Can someone summarize?


Only people who really know are those involved. Basically everything above is speculation. Read @aperturegrillz and @CFFLegs’s posts for the only first hand experiences.


The event organizers have received and responded to our feedback. In order to allow this to be a learning experience for the community as a whole, I’m sharing the email we sent to the organizers below. It’s long but hopefully enlightening. A few guiding rules for what I’m sure will be a healthy discussion:

  • We are talking about actions, not people. I know all of the people involved personally, and no one is passing judgments on their character or worth. We are simply discussing behaviors and actions. Please no personal attacks.
  • We are not debating whether or not we experienced sexist treatment. If your instinct after reading this post is to pick through each part where you don’t agree or argue that there could have been a non-sexist explanation for something, this may not be the thread for you. As the only people who experienced this first-hand, we are telling y’all that we were treated in a way that made us feel upset and uncomfortable, we are pointing out common missteps that can be avoided by future TDs, commentators, and organizers, and we are making recommendations on how to improve. Let’s keep the discussion solution-oriented: how can we work to prevent these types of things from happening with such regularity?
  • A final clarification: I have not watched the stream and don’t plan to, so there are some stream details that are inaccurate below, since I was trying to synthesize the feedback from people who had watched the stream without having seen it firsthand. I hope that small errors will not impact whether or not our concerns are taken seriously.

Hi Northwest Pinball Champs team,

As you’re aware, Meg Griffin, Melissa Schwegel, and I had a very negative experience during the Women’s Final at NWPC yesterday. As promised, we have written out our feedback for you in this email. It’s unfortunate that there is already internet discussion about this issue without waiting for our feedback; one recommendation I will make off the bat is that if a player is having issues with your event, don’t broadcast and discuss that fact on stream. This will allow the player to share feedback with you directly without it turning into a whole Thing.

We plan to share details regarding specific situations and actions below. Since Zoe typed most of it up, it’s written from her perspective, but all three of us support the statements made. Overall, the women’s final was treated as an afterthought, not a main event, and the competitors were treated like novices, not experienced and talented tournament pinball players. If you continue to include a women’s event in the NWPC, please give it the same level of planning and attention that you give the other finals. You are a PAPA Circuit event; all branches of your tournament need to be high quality, not just the main finals.

When I showed up on Sunday, I was asked to run the women’s finals. That is unacceptable. You would not ask Elwin to do the administrative work to run his group. Also, obviously I would be unable to make rulings as I would be involved in the match. Please have a knowledgeable tournament director already in place prior to the day of. Much of our dissatisfaction could have been avoided if the women’s finals TD was identified to the competitors and was actually knowledgeable about the format of the finals and the IFPAPA ruleset. When I requested that Germain come make a ruling on our JM game, it was because our women’s final had no official B Division representative present to make rulings; the guys helping run the final were also commentating, and it was unclear to me that they had any real TD authority (especially since 5 minutes prior I would have been the one in charge if I had said yes when asked to run the finals). Meg is newer to competitive pinball and wanted to make sure she was on top of everything, so during her volunteering shift on Saturday night, she asked who the TDs were in case she had issues arise; she was told Germain, Kevin, and Raymond were the TDs. If that changed at any point and for any reason, players should be explicitly notified. You advertise NWPC as “a three-day tournament for all skill levels.” In order to make sure you’re serving the needs of newer or less knowledgeable players, or even just players who don’t recognize the names and faces of everyone in Seattle, please make sure you are sharing all relevant information with anyone who could need to use it.

For Game 1, I had choice of game or position and chose TWD. Meg then had choice of position and chose to go third. Zach said, “You know you can choose to go fourth, right?” This is Gender in Pinball 101. We are finalists. We know how tournaments work. Please do not treat us like we don’t know how to play competitive pinball. You would not second guess Elwin’s choice of position, please do not second guess ours. All four of us rolled our eyes, because all four of us have been asked that question and other similarly condescending questions for YEARS, and told him obviously Meg knew what she was choosing, please move on.

For Game 2, I had choice of game or position and chose Tron. Meg then had choice of position and chose to go third. Jarett (side note: this is a different person that the initial person who started out seeming to direct the women’s finals. Please have one person who is involved in running a finals from start to finish in case ongoing issues arise. This is also when I noticed that these guys were not officially TDs, because they were just scrambling to show up whenever we needed something) asked Meg, “You know you can go fourth, right?” I was getting really annoyed at this point and sharply told him that we were all aware of how picking player order worked and to not ever ask a woman that again. He tried to explain why he asked, and I said, “It doesn’t matter. Just don’t do it.” Then I went and played Tron and complained to [friends] via text message between balls because I was frustrated. At this point I planned to take the organizers aside after the fact and let them know that there were some issues in how the women’s final was run.

For Game 3, I had choice of game or position and chose JM. Everyone chose player order with no issues. I was P1 and stepped up to start. On my first flip, the left flipper stuck up even after I took my hands off the machine, so I immediately let my ball drain, raised my hand, and requested a TD to make a ruling. Because it did not seem like Jarett or Zach were actually official TDs, I asked that one of the event organizers be summoned from Classics, where all of the event organizers were participating in the finals.

A quick digression: If you schedule two finals that conflict with each other and one of them is the women’s final, it comes across like you are assuming no women will qualify for both. If all of your core organizers are in another room participating in their own tournament, why are you running another finals simultaneously? It is imperative that you have a TD who is not competing, for exactly this reason. Otherwise it appears that the women’s final is not worth your time. Additionally, having an Open tiebreaker going on during the women’s final, and especially having the commentators discuss whether they should switch from the women’s final to watch the tiebreaker, adds to the devaluing of the women’s event as a side tournament not worthy of the same level of care and respect as the other finals.

I requested that someone get Germain so I could describe the situation and get a ruling. When Germain came in, rather than coming to talk to me/the other group members about what had happened and what our next steps would be, he went straight to work on the game. I would have been happy to move to a different game, if that were an option presented to me, but no one asked me, nor did anyone tell us what was wrong, how long it might take, or what our options would be if it didn’t get fixed. On the stream, the commentators said that I had refused to change games and that’s why they were spending so long trying to fix it, which was untrue. I had rejected their ability to make a ruling entirely, not the substance of the ruling they suggested. If an official TD were to offer me the chance to switch games, I would have considered it. We were also frustrated that the commentators were updating the stream viewers while the actual tourney participants were in the dark about what was happening.

Germain and Eden both came over from Classics to look at JM, and on the stream the assumption was made that they must have gotten knocked out of Classics if they were taking the time to help with the women’s tournament malfunction (time stamp: 47:38). Is a major malfunction not worthy of a TD? Once the issue was fixed (I assume? No one told me what happened), Germain said as he was leaving to go back to Classics, “It’s fixed, you can play on.” This was the only time he had spoken to the competitor group since entering the room, and I told him that we were frustrated by the lack of information. He responded by telling me what specifically was wrong with the flipper, which was not our issue in the first place. A TD should always overcommunicate with the impacted group. I would have recommended handling it this way: 1. Find out what happened from the player it actually happened to, 2. Say, “Okay. This is considered a major malfunction. We are going to look into repairing it. If we are able to repair it, you should start the entire game over again. If we are unable to repair it, Zoe will pick another game.” 3. Once JM was fixed, say, “It appears to be fixed. If it happens again during this game, here is what our next steps would be. Sound good? Ok, play on!”

I’m not even going to get into the whole JM video mode thing, because that is Nycole’s experience and she can choose whether she wants to communicate with you guys directly about it. I will point out that regardless of whether she correctly implemented the video mode, she is aware of the second set of flipper buttons because she has been playing pinball for a long time. No one’s initial reaction to her complaining about a malfunction should be, “She probably didn’t know how to play the game.” If Elwin complained about video mode not working, your first response would not be, maybe he did it wrong. Do not condescend to your female finalists that they don’t know how to play a game, especially one that was in the qualifying rounds, especially when Nycole had over 1B on ball 1 before she even dealt with the video mode. Your commentators were so sure Nycole had made a player error that I literally saw her go over to the booth, lean into the microphone, and yell, “THE BUTTONS WEREN’T WORKING” because she couldn’t take the misinformation anymore.

During the break where JM was being worked on, Melissa formally complained to Eden that we were experiencing sexism and getting increasingly uncomfortable. It’s unclear to me if Eden was actually one of the event officials, but he presented as such, which is why Melissa went to him. Immediately afterward, on camera, you can see a person come up to the commentators and tell them to check their text messages. Melissa says she heard someone say, “Eden says to check your phone right now,” or somewhere along those lines. The text, which the commentators read out loud on stream, was “Stop the sexist comments.”

The stream started talking about whether or not they were being sexist while the women’s final was still going on. If you hear feedback that people are unhappy with your event or stream, you should not be discussing it on the stream. You should be aware that someone isn’t a fan of how you’re operating, make a note to talk about it with the organizers afterward (if y’all aren’t having a postmortem meeting after each event you run to discuss how it went, you should be), and continue covering the event as you would have anyway. I had my private concerns that I planned to share with the event organizers broadcast without my knowledge or input; my feedback was completely misrepresented, and because we were aware that the stream was now discussing sexism instead of our gameplay, we had to deal with knowing that conversation was happening while also trying to focus on playing the final game of the match.

At this point, I was so disappointed and frustrated with the experience that I was outside of the bowling alley in tears. Whether or not you think our complaints have any validity, please consider that if one of your attendees is outside sobbing because of your event, you should be open to learning about the situation rather than immediately trying to explain why they shouldn’t be upset. However, I don’t recommend trying to learn about the situation while the attendee is still crying. Jarett tried to come tell me how he wasn’t sexist while I was outside crying, and I told him that it was not a good time and that I would email the event organizers with feedback. When Melissa went in and tried to explain to the commentators why I was upset, they called her a “crazy girl” on the stream. Again, I highly recommend keeping a discussion of the issues off the air until the issues are resolved so that organizers and impacted players can discuss feedback without whipping up a crowd frenzy.

The issues that we had with the actual running of your event could easily be fixed by making sure the female perspective is considered and represented among your event organizers. The initial incidents were eyerolling casual sexism, and we would encourage you to train anyone representing your event on how not to undermine female players, but we would have shared our feedback with y’all after the event and moved on were it not for the immediate “we’re not sexist and they’re crazy!” response from the stream and the reactions we received when trying to articulate our concerns. When organizers hear that there are negative reactions going on in the women’s final, “next year we just won’t stream the women’s final” is not an appropriate solution. When organizers hear there are negative reactions going on in the women’s final, “Apparently I ruined the women’s final, sorry you don’t like sarcasm,” is not an appropriate thing to say on the stream. Additionally, the stream audio was left on after the event was over, allowing anyone still watching to hear the conversations being had about this issue and the laughter directed toward us for making a statement about something that bothered us.

Thanks to the stream commentary, Twitch chat, and internet hubbub, men are calling us crazy, saying we’re overreacting, and calling us “silly little girls” who “need to pussy up” when we haven’t even had a chance to share what we experienced! Men in the Classics room were saying that we heard things out of context and were overreacting, even though they were the ones hearing about this third-hand. Kevin is already jumping in to share his perspective on Tilt Forums when he hasn’t even heard feedback from any of the actually impacted players. Some dude in the Twitch chat asked if I would have made a big deal about this if I were winning. People on the internet are speculating over what happened and demanding to get answers about an event they weren’t even at.

None of this is how player objections and feedback should be handled, and I hope that this can be a learning experience for future events. Please let us know if you have any questions. Because the public conversation is already happening, I plan to post a version of this email to Tilt Forums, but I wanted to discuss with you guys directly first. Also, FYI, I was planning on writing a zine article about sexism in pinball, not about this event, although I obviously would mention some of what happened, and of course I wasn’t going to write a zine article without first bringing our feedback directly to you. From the jump, I have been repeating over and over that I would share my feedback to the organizers via email directly. Here it is.

Zoe, Meg, and Melissa


::BOGGLE:: Is there an official explanation of this scheduling scheme? Cuz it’s loco.


Thank you @CFFLegs for updating us with some facts. It really does sound like the women’s final was kind of an afterthought and was not given the true respect that it was due. Hopefully all TD’s can learn from this and try to prevent this from happening again.


Your concerns about the lack of planning regarding the women’s tournament are totally valid; one of Germain, myself, Raymond, or Eden should have been available to run the finals. Scheduling Women’s over classics finals has been done three years in a row now due to the lack of any better remotely practical alternative solution. There is a reason why INDISC, CAX, MAGFest, Chicago Expo, Buffalo, Bat City Open, and many other circuit events don’t have women’s divisions; it’s impossible to run them without either eating into womens’ ability to qualify in main/classics (by running the finals at some point during main/classics qualifying) or their ability to play simultaneously in classics/open finals. We cannot serialize all three tournaments on Sunday because we already run as late as possible. Our event already pushes the boundaries of our rental time/space; we barely managed to finish packing this year before we would have been kicked out of the building. If you have any better idea as to when we should run women’s, I’m all ears.

Unfortunately, you do not get to absolve yourself of what I consider to be blatant slander by saying that you “don’t plan to watch” the stream. It turns out that when you claim people say sexist stuff on stream, you might want to make sure that any of the things you claim were said were actually said. Just because you do not wish to watch the stream does not mean that you can make false accusations about the stream with abandon. You also can’t absolve yourself of this by saying “I’m not passing judgments on their character or worth”. If you say someone said something horrible and they didn’t, that makes other people pass judgments on their character or worth unfairly.

This fundamentally did not happen. Please do not lie about my friends. Furthermore, this comment is absurdly rich. It’s unreasonable to tell the broadcasters to “keep a discussion of issues off the air” when a player comes over and leans into the mic and starts accusing them of being sexist, then 3 of the 4 finalists plunge their balls in “protest”. How else are you supposed to explain the events occurring to the audience in that case? No unfair accusations regarding the players’ conduct were made on the stream. I can’t say the same regarding the broadcasters’ conduct.

I agree. That’s why they were reaching out to the chat to make it clear whether or not the complaint was about the stream chat comments or the broadcasters themselves. When the complaint comes to the streamers through a third party there is a little bit of telephone being played, which is why they needed to disambiguate.

This is also not true. Nycole did not do that. We have video proof that this did not happen. Please do not make false accusations.

No one involved with the event called you crazy, and it’s in fact verifiable that the stream did not do that. The “reactions that you received” were due to the commentators being blindsided by the accusations made by a player in public. Berating someone in public with no context and giving them no chance to respond is not a way to get problems solved, anywhere, at all. I guarantee that if you were streaming and someone came over to the broadcast booth and aggressively attacked your commentary you would probably have a similar “deer-in-headlights” reaction.

Why would anyone involved with this stream want to be involved with broadcasting the women’s final after having their character publicly assassinated by well-known players as a result of remarks they didn’t make? You’re right that not streaming the women’s final is not a good solution. It’s extremely sexist to not want to cover a women’s tournament because it is a women’s tournament. What I think is fair to say, however, is that it’s very understandable if none of the casters (or myself, whose channel we stream on) want to subject themselves to the straight up slander that they had to deal with this year. For that reason I will not be helping with any NWPC stream next year or providing any equipment or use of my channel to stream on. If someone else wishes to step up and run the stream, I gladly encourage them to. However, t seems that the stream effects the event negatively, not positively. The only people who seem to benefit from it are those who are…not at the event, and it’s by far our priority to please players and spectators at the event more than those sitting at home watching on Twitch.

Your private concerns were broadcast by your friend literally coming over to the microphone and shouting at the streamers that they “needed to go and ask [you] why [you] were out in the parking lot crying”. The stream would have been completely unaware of the specifics of what was going on (before everyone plunged their balls, at least) without this incident. I’m not sure how you suggest we prevent this from happening, short of threatening to eject any player that attempts to interrupt the stream.

We are obviously aware of this. Unfortunately when we have to keep the event moving it is important to ascertain a course of action to take as fast as possible. Melissa “suggested” (demanded) that someone go outside and find out what was happening. I recommend that you also share this suggestion with her.

When you make a private matter public by discussing it in public or making a public protest, people will speculate and demand to get answers. Chat was confused as to what was taking place, and an attempt was made to factually answer about what was happening without making any judgment calls on the players involved. I’m not sure why you would expect anything else.

If anything at all is not factually correct about what I’ve said, by all means please feel free to point it out (along with timestamps if possible) and I will gladly retract anything I’ve said.


What is a good conflict resolution here? Were these issues brought up in a way that was productive? I know in my experience that I’ve had plenty of issues where I feel like screaming at people for the complete disregard of others. In this case it seemed like frustration took over where a conversation could have taken place. I know that ‘death by a thousand cuts’ feeling and get so pissed when I’ve had enough of the micro aggressions. Though I think a lot of the time people on the other end don’t realize how they’re coming across. I’ll say that I like most everyone including in this situation and I feel like if people were pulled aside and told how their actions were affecting the players at that time they would be receptive. I just don’t want to see the men vilified for things they weren’t given an opportunity to rectify. And I’ll just say that pinball people are often times socially awkward weirdos, myself included, and that they don’t handle confrontation super well. I’m sorry this all happened and I really hope we all find a path to mutual respect.


Well, the issues were privately brought to an event organizer, who privately sent the broadcaster a private text message. Only at that point, when the broadcaster chose to read it aloud on the stream, did it become public.

They then continue to discuss it, and the players can hear them. Had he treated his private text message privately and not read it aloud the plunge off likely wouldn’t have happened.

PS Nycole does say loudly when standing next to the broadcasters that the buttons were not working. She appeared to feel the need to do this when they start explaining what she should have done.