I love the game of pinball. The problem is, that I was never really that good at it. But that’s OK, because back in the day, pinball machines were everywhere, and you didn’t have to be a pro to play because it was more of a way to pass the time. I do remember that there were kids who were extremely good at the game, who took it very serious. That was not me, but I still enjoyed watching them as they mastered the flippers and racked up huge scores.
Today it’s rare to see a pinball machine outside of a bowling alley or a garage sale. But that doesn’t mean that the game has faded away completely. In fact there is a pinball aficionados club that has surfaced, and the members want to bring the game back into style… if not the mainstream again.
Currently Buffalo Pinball hosts bracketed meet-ups where members show off their machines, talk about the game, and play against each other. “We’re basically the local manifestation of a much larger national (and international) trend in the resurgence of the game of pinball,” says Buffalo Pinball Vice President Kevin Manne. “Locally we run a league, host tournaments, and have a growing community of collectors, players and hobbyists. Right now we’ve got more than 185 people in our Facebook group and our first league, which ran September ’13 to April ’14, was at maximum capacity and we’ve increased the number of players for the current (also maxed out) season. We also run a weekly livestreamed show on Twitch where we share the rules how to play a different game each week followed by some friendly competition showing the game. The shows are Thursdays at 8 p.m. – click here for more info.”
Wired.com recently ran an article on the comeback of pinball, and the enthusiasts that are rallying around the game (see article). In a time of 3D simulated war games, the simplicity of pinball is a refreshing memory for those who recall the joy of releasing the plunger and then batting the ball around, while learning their way around the glass covered field.
Not only are there a number of new players learning to love the pastime of pinball, there are some masters out there who continue to work on the games, much the way skilled auto mechanics work on their beloved muscle cars.
Today it appears as if the joys of playing pinball are rebounding. Not only are there meet-ups, there are tournaments. In fact, there is a tournament coming up this spring that has got local players excited about showing their “pinball wizardry” skills. According to Manne, the third annual Buffalo Pinball Open tournament* is coming up in April (undisclosed location as of yet). Local players interested in learning more about Buffalo Pinball club, can check out the group’s Facebook page, or on their website.
*This the tournament is open to the public. First 20 players to register get in. The location is private and will be emailed to those that are registered.
Personally, I think that it would be great to see pinball make a comeback in select taverns around the city. I always thought it was so cool seeing one of these games flashing its lights in the corner of a local watering hole. Who knows, maybe if Buffalo Pinball really takes off, we might start to see more of a public presence, with players hosting brackets and tournaments for the public to watch in person. In the meantime, be sure to check out this group as it livestreams its way into your homes via the internet.