Since this is a very short week, I am unable to update The Fools Manifesto with a game review per se. I will return next week with a review of a game that has been absorbing all my extra time lately. Until then, I thought I would recognize the holiday week by giving thanks for one of my favorite types of games ever: the pinball machine. (cue music from The Who‘s Tommy)
I have to admit, I never really gave it much thought beyond the simple joy I received from playing pinball. I wasn’t a wizard, by any stretch of the imagination. My oldest brother could play a machine for 40 days and 40 nights on just one quarter. I was lucky if my game went for 5 minutes. But I was young then, and every arcade had at least 2 machines it seemed, usually more. Whether I was in a shopping mall or a Shakey’s Pizza, I would much rather plunk my quarter into a pinball machine than into one of the various Pong clones that were sprouting up everywhere. It never entered into my young mind that there were devious and tricky pinball machine designers lurking behind the scenes, trying to tweak the games in an effort to suck all the quarters from my pocket. What a fool I was.
Even later, when the arcades were filled with Joust, Q-bert, and Tron games, I would still go back to the pinball corner and play those dusty old machines. They often cost less to play than the newer games, and they were still some of the best around. Something visceral about the steel ball impacting the flippers, the mechanical “thunk” of the targets and bumpers, resonated deeper in me than the digital images on the video screens. Don’t get me wrong, I love video games. Always have. But pinball is what got that love rolling.
With that in mind, this is an interesting article about the Economics of Pinball and the decline of the pinball machine. The author reveals some of the interesting tricks that pinball machine designers used to try to separate fools like me from our pocket change. I found it via BoingBoing, one of my favorite websites for off-the-beaten-trail news and interesting tidbits.
Photo by Kapungo