As I get older I find it gets rarer and rarer to indulge in a dorky passion that is much older than I am and come out with a unique and fun experience. Atari and a few of the original console systems, as well as some of the more popular arcade machines predate most of the Dork Night regulars, but not by much. Pinball, on the other hand...
Flipper-less pinball has been around forever. Seriously. I'm talking about the late 1700s here. Pinball really took shape during the Great Depression though, and first started getting flippers in 1947. Pinball history fascinates me, but I don't want to delve too deeply into it. Basically, machines were banned as gambling devices because they were seen as a game of luck instead of a game of skill. This is debatable, even without flippers, as a good player can gently guide the ball into the high scoring holes by nudging the machine. The implementation of flippers added a whole new degree of skill though. There were also groups claiming pinball was The Devil's preferred method to corrupt kids...as there always are.
I don't know how it happened, but despite being born during the home console take over, I still have a soft spot for good ol' fashioned flipper fun.
I've got 3 machines, all from the 70s- 2 solid state machines (1 currently broken) and 1 old school electro-mechanical game that has no digital components. Let me say that again. NO. DIGITAL. COMPONENTS. It blows me away that all the scoring is done through mechanical switches and relays. Hearing real bells and the "chunks" of the score display are way cooler than the sound boards added to later machines.
Compensating for much?
Chucking fireballs, like ya do.
Pinball machines tell a story and put you in a more immersive driver's seat than video games do. You create the narrative with the help of the back-glass and cabinet art, and of course, the actual rules of game play. Are you really shooting that target for big points, or are you actually defeating a 5 headed dragon in an attempt to save your woman. Seriously, how freaking cool does this look.
photo courtesy of Russ Jensen from ipdb.org
I'm fortunate enough to live in an area that has 2 all you can play pinball/arcade places and a yearly exposition.