Monday, July 23, 2012

Pinball Addiction

Posted by Benson

I have always enjoyed pinball.  Pinball machines were always the first thing that I gravitated to in the local arcades when I was growing up, and I rarely ever turn down an opportunity to play pinball nowadays.

I love the visceral nature of playing pinball.  Unlike the video games that are so predominant today, pinball is a very physical, hands-on experience.  A pinball machine is a work of precision craftsmanship full of clever mechanical contraptions.  It clicks, whirls, thuds, thumps, bumps, and shakes.  The ball zooms around the game guided not by intangible, invisible algorithms, but by the physics of the natural world.  The machines have a life and a personality accrued through thousands of plays.  In short, I really enjoy playing pinball.

In the past, pinball has been something that I appreciated when the opportunity arose, but nowadays I have started to seek out pinball machines both at home and when I travel.  Sadly, I have discovered that it is not so easy to locate a pinball machine these days.  This fact does not surprise me.  Pinball machines are expensive and require a great deal of specialized maintenance.  They are also likely not as popular or profitable as the newest video games.

As much as I understand the difficulty of finding a pinball machine, the reality is nonetheless vexing.  Ironically, the challenge of tracking down a pinball machine is proper working order has only increased my growing need to play pinball.  Hyperbole aside, I feel that I may be on the cusp of becoming seriously interested in pinball.

At the moment, I would certainly not call myself a pinball connoisseur.  I do not know very much about what makes a pinball machine work.  I do not know the history of the machines or the companies that make them.  I have not even played a terribly diverse variety of pinball machines.  I do not own my own pinball machine...yet.  But I may just start down that road.

I came to this realization a short while ago when I was visiting my sister in Austin.  Austin is a very cool city with a hip vibe and a great deal of fun things to do.  One of those things happens to be an arcade called Pinballz (with the "Z" and everything).  Pinballz is aptly named as it is the loving host of more than one hundred different pinball machines in addition to an assortment of other classic arcade games.  What I wouldn't give for a Pinballz in New Orleans.

I spent an entire night in Pinballz until the management kicked me out at closing time, and now I've gotten my first really good fix of pinball in a long time.  I want more.  Luckily, I am not the only person with a growing pinball addition.  There are many others out in the world who have kindly taken the time to track down and locate pinball machines in just about every significant metropolitan area.  Sometimes it takes work to locate them, but I will do my best to create opportunities to play pinball when I am on the road.  It may not be long until I'm rearranging the furniture in my office to fit in a brand-new-to-me pinball machine.

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