Yellow Cards, behavior and penalties

I probably should have added something like: “I know the machines will be shaken during the course of play, but my goal is to minimize wear-and-tear.”

The discussion was about someone shaking a neighboring machine. I leave it up to the machine tilt settings to deal with a game in play!

Very considerate of you to move the camera back, @pinwizj. :wink:

I 100% agree with this. The examples of bad behavior are helpful in defining the norms of the event and making sure everyone is at least somewhat on the same page, but context and TD discretion are necessary to apply the rules. If someone’s “personality” is to scream and huff and shake a machine well after a ball could be saved, that has a broader impact and makes others uncomfortable. If it doesn’t make you uncomfortable (the broad “you”, not @MCS or @85vett or any particular person), that’s fine, but I promise there are other attendees whose enjoyment of the event is lessened because someone yelled or swore or got drunk. At events that I TD, we’ve taken players aside to let them know that their behavior needs to change if they want to continue attending, and we’ve handed out yellow and red cards (we don’t actually use a card system, but for the purposes of this discussion I’ll use the concepts) for drunken behavior that makes others uncomfortable.

There’s a difference between someone who drains, says “Well, fuck” matter of factly, and walks away, and someone who drains, screams “BULLSHIT!!!”, and spins on their heel without regard for the crowded shared space around them. I hope we all recognize that and understand that conduct rules aren’t put into place to force everyone to act exactly the same, they are there so that when there are unfortunate outliers, there’s a structure in place so that action can be taken.


I’ve seen it, but it was about 45 years ago. Dude pounded the glass with his fist, breaking the glass, then ran out of the arcade. Been so long I don’t recall if the glass was tempered or not.

Tempered glass is ridiculously strong. To break tempered glass with just your hand, there would have to be a problem with the game, like grit in the glass channel. Video below shows just how unbreakable it is.

the following statements do not endorse glass abuse, even though technically broken glass = good for me :sweat_smile:

Seriously, watch that video. You have a better chance of breaking pinball glass by whipping out a blowtorch and inducing thermal shock than by direct physical contact. The edges can be compromised easier than the center, but a good temper + edging (hooray not getting cut on glass!) mitigates this to the best it can.

One of the most amusing Pinburgh tricks was gently resting glass on concrete while dealing with advanced rulings. :slight_smile:

Back on topic…

I think when we talk about “personality policing,” in some of these policies we’re toeing the line dangerously close to justifying action against #notlikethis, moving while playing, self-talking while playing, and in general showing positive emotions at a pinball machine. I hope for the sake of excited players and showstoppers everywhere this is not a consequence of this policy.


I’m so glad you mentioned this. So in a tournament of 160 people. If only 15 people complained then why are we making a change? The many are the other 145 of which we have to assume were not offended as they didn’t say anything. We can’t make an assumption that some of that 145 were offended without talking to them all to see what the majority take was.

This is my point, we assume that when a handful of vocal people are offended that the norm is the majority is offended. You may now make things better for those 15 people but now make things less fun for another group of people as now they feel like they have to walk on eggshells.

This goes back to my point of if it’s not doing physical harm to a game or is a direct threat to someone then those whom are offended by some words or an action should grow a bit thicker skin.

Some examples:

I can’t stand the smell of cigarettes. If someone is smoking in a legal spot, I don’t have a right to invoke my personal preference over theirs and force them or ask them to stop. That is arrogant as it’s putting my own personal preferences/beliefs over someone elses. And yes, this applies to pinball. Every play in match with someone that just came in from a smoke? It impacts the other players and we do not have a rule about not doing it, and activity allow it. At Bat City Open 4 of us were in a group and myself and 2 of the other players were distracted by this. Can’t speak for the others but it made my eyes water (I’m mildly allergic to it) which kind of makes focusing on a pinball hard.

Sorry, I’m bored at work on a stupid slow day. This is an interesting conversation of which I’m trying to break the ice a bit and also push the envelope to facilitate the deeper aspects of what we are doing. I don’t necessarily disagree with most of what is being said, but I do (to a point) start to disagree with others determining what is appropriate behavior when that can be very different from person to person when that behavior doesn’t do physical harm to an object or person.

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That’s fine. That’s why it’s at the organizers discretion as to what they consider to be violations of their conduct rules.


Eek. I’m not looking for a majority vote. My goal is that nobody complains. If one person complains, that’s worth looking into. If 15(!!!) complain, that is a huge deal in my book. I would absolutely disagree that if someone doesn’t complain, they’re not bothered. There is a burden associated with making a complaint, and many people will choose to stay quiet over being perceived as “making a big deal.”


I removed it as requested as it was felt to derail the thread.

I’ll agree with that but also keep in mind the common culture things. A happy person generally doesn’t go around and say, “I’m happy, that was great.” but someone that isn’t will more than likely vocalize it. It’s part of business marketing. A happy customer tells a few while an unhappy one tells everyone. It’s the same principle.

I find it to be the exact opposite in social situations. Customer != Friend. Whether it’s pinball or church, people are gathering at a certain place at a certain time to derive enjoyment and fulfillment from their interaction with others and personal achievement. People will go to very long lengths to avoid feeling or appearing like an outsider in that kind of situation and often don’t speak up when there are serious issues.


It’s weird how everyone is worried about the slippery slope to over penalizing while again the topic gets revived based on the consistent and flagrant actions of a few people.


More to the point and not specifically about intoxicated people, this seems very open-ended. I for one wouldn’t feel very welcome in an environment where potentially ANY thing I do MIGHT be taken badly by some other random person. Of course I can try to not be a dick, but at some point, I am an individual with my own personality and quirks and I can’t do anything about that. I understand the intent here is about harassment or overtly brutish behavior but saying “any conduct” could lead to fantastical claims like “I’m a germophobe and player X is sweating too much so I feel unsafe, please give them a yellow card.” Yes I’m being intentionally over the top here. I’d suggest just saying “Harassment or offensive behavior” here instead of the catch-all.

I did it once, 20+ years ago. I think it was a Nightmare on Elm Street with standard playfield glass. Long enough ago that I don’t worry about it now, but not my best moment.

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We’ve discussed changing it but decided the language isn’t causing an issue that needs to be addressed. My personal threshold is I’m not throwing someone out because you feel unsafe, I have to be confident you actually are unsafe. The uncomfortable part just means I’ll listen to your comments and discuss with the other organizers.

Ultimately you’re trusting the other people and organizers in any event you play in. We don’t always agree but it usually works out. I’m always grateful for feedback, even if it’s criticism.


This is all I’m putting in the General Information page of a big tournament coming up, along with Official Rules (IFPA / PAPA) that determine what interference is and the results.

“Tournament director reserves the right to disqualify or eject players for disruptive behavior or machine abuse.”

That’s it. Hear about something, talk to the player. See something, talk to the player or penalize them if it’s really bad and within common sense that it isn’t allowed, e.g. kicking a machine. I don’t think it needs to be spelled out any more than that, you just deal with it.


Glass was shattered by someone pounding on it in frustration at a tournament here 5 or 10 years ago. It still gets brought up every few months. I assume the glass wasn’t tempered or had some other flaw in it…but it absolutely happened.

Regardless of the outcome, it’s not different to me than kicking or shoving the machine after the ball had drained. You have anger issues, you’re taking them out on a machine, and you’re making people uncomfortable…or worse, you’re telling people that your reaction is an accepted part of pinball.

If you do something in anger that startles everyone in the room and causes them to quickly look in your direction to see what the hell is going on…then you’ve probably gone too far.


Sounds good. I’ve voiced my thoughts and my goal was to just to make sure that when we make up these rules that we take into consideration other peoples personalities and allow them to express themselves (within reason). If I’ve even gotten one person to at least think harder about these things in the other light then I’m happy and I wont force everyone to continue to listen to me babble. Friends still? :slight_smile:

Going to play some pinball this weekend and hope that I’m not the subject of the next thread surrounding this stuff. Have a feeling @law, @snailman and @yeoldpinplayer are going to keep an extra keen eye on me this weekend though so I’ll need to be on extra good behavior :yum:

I don’t think it’s fair to lump all three of those things together. If you’ve competed long at all, you’ve been to an event where one game had a noticeably tighter tilt than all the other games. Those games get shoved. Usually after a tilt and usually by an experienced player, not a noob. That’s been happening forever. As long as the game isn’t shoved into a wall or another game, no foul IMO. I’ve had my games shoved in tournaments, I’ve shoved games and I’ve seen more than one of the current top ten players shove games. It’s been happening forever and no rule will stop it from happening. It’s a sport. Showing emotion is normal and ok, as long as you don’t hurt anyone/thing.

Smacking the glass or even worse, kicking a game is embarrassing. That’s punishment in itself. If you didn’t hurt the game, you certainly hurt your standing in the community.

As long as you don’t hurt any games or people, I can live with an occasional shove, glass smack or even a leg kick. However, if you do any of those things while screaming an F bomb with kids around, that’s an instant red card. Swearing loudly around kids is much worse than a shove or a kick IMO.

I once saw Neil Shatz do a wickedly smooth kick death save (kick-back?) on a Stern with a metal apron. Not so much as a scuff on the leg and no one else in the place noticed. It was amazing. If you saw him do it, it would change your feeling entirely about leg kicks. If you kick a leg just right, it’s very cool.

This! I’m pretty new to competitive pinball, and being new means I have to take social cues from the veterans. I can say that I’ve picked up a few bad habits from watching others, that I have to try to combat now. It would have been better if I never picked up those behaviors.

I really like the yellow card system. It’s essy to understand and it’s fair. Even if you don’t agree with a ruling you have a warning and you an oppurtunity to adjust your behavior. I like that there’s a mechanism that allows someone the opportunity to make a complaint, and the opportunity to adjust.


At PAPA over the years I’ve seen the glass break on the machine three times - two from fists on a lock bar and one from a headbutt that was meant to be gentle. Despite the intention, this is not acceptable behavior.

The #1 way to not get a yellow card or a side eye from a TD is simply to not be a dick. If you’re in a position of trying to justify your behavior and/or are “afraid” of being singled out, just try not being a dick. It works wonders.


Being a Dick is encouraged at my events. I wish we had fifty more Dicks. Not only would the league double in size we would also have someone available to dust the tops of the machines. And free Dick picks.


Yes… imagine that ring most of us wear on our hand… Smack with ring = high risk of glass smash. Also, slamming/moving the lockdown bar has a high risk of edge damage to glass = broken glass.

We don’t call it the ‘iron fist’ for nothing… :slight_smile:

Your fist/flesh isn’t likely to break glass on it’s own… it’s the metal on your hand, or being moved by your hand that often does the damage.