On Pinball

Published mid-day Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm a bit into pinball nowadays, my interest fueled by the local bars that have working pinball machines and the existence of a pinball league.

I used to play the pinball game was that was included in Windows XP (?) a lot when I was the kid because my Dad didn't let us own computer games. So I just played the ones that came with Windows. I didn't understand how to play Minesweeper or Solitaire, so that just left the pinball game.

I am drawn to the older machines that are made of wood and are electromechanical, instead of fully digital ones with LED displays and synthesized sounds. I prefer the older machines because they feel more embodied. They are more rickety and the sounds come from embedded bells and vibrating metal parts. It's like you can feel each bumper and flipper working against you.

Recently at Supercollider, I played a Star Trek-themeed one and one called Bride of Pinbot.

The Star Trek pinball game looked a bit unlicensed, in that the original Star Trek crew were wearing unfamiliar uniforms. Anyway, the machine was made of wood and was eletro-mechincal.

The other machine was called Bride of Pinbot. Each score level that was successfully passed meant that the Bride would be closer to being a really human. I think the game was just a metaphor for sex with a robot.

The pinball machine was made of metal and had more electronic parts. It was also a harder game because it had a quicker pace (probably due to the metal parts). Also the ball shooter was wonky.

You can tell it was more difficult than the Star Trek pinball game because you lost your balls faster. However, the longer you played, the more you felt you were getting better at it. The sense of progress was greater in this machine than in the Star Trek machine. But I don't know if I was getting better at playing Bride of Pinbot or if it was just all luck.

A few days later, I was at the Skylark ball and they had a pinball room with a Mars Attack pinball game, a Harlem Globetrotters one, and a Heavy Metal. I was drawn to the Harlem Globetrotters one because it was wooden. The machine ate my dollar so I played the Mars Attack one. I didn't like it. It was too fast and too digital. I didn't play the Heavy Metal one because thematically, it wasn't appealing to me.

I want to play this pinball game, which is psuedo-electromechanical and based on memes.

I wonder how hard it would be to make my own pinball machine? Like one could use a Raspberry Pi as the brain and 3D print parts...