Finding Out What Makes Pinball Fun

Five years ago, competitive pinball got me back into playing pinball after a 17 year break, and for the last three years I have played in two or three tournaments a month. But back in June I realized that game lineups and aspects of competition were decreasing my enjoyment of pinball (see Bursting My Tournament Bubble).

At the end of June I played in one very serious tournament, City Champ, and in July one sort of serious tournament, San Francisco Super Selfie League finals, and both left me feeling flat. Keep in mind that as pinball tournaments go both were great. Well run. Well maintained machines. Great people. But for me, the pinball varied between ok and frustrating. Sadly not that much fun.

For the next two months I unintentionally took a break from playing tournaments. I still played my favorite machines on location. I still put up selfie league scores. I still played in the Pacific Pinball Museum League. But I didn’t prioritize selfie league finals in my calendar and I didn’t look for tournaments to go to.

Then two tournaments caught my eye.

The first was the Jurrassic Park launch tournament at Phoenix Games in Concord. The tournament caught my attention because it wasn’t a normal tournament, it was doubles! Doubles sounded fun! It was also at a location that I have been meaning to get to for the last few years.

The second was the first stop on the Pinball Profile World Tour! Jeff Teolis’ Pinball Profiles was the first pinball podcast that I listened to, and it got me started learning about the larger pinball community. The tournament was a flip frenzy format at Free Gold Watch in San Francisco, but the big draw was to meet Jeff and have a fun time… on a Monday night… in the City! (People who know me understand what a big deal that is)

So here were two tournaments that I went to for reasons other than trying to win. And I had a blast!

Phoenix games was amazing. The games are in great shape, and I particularly enjoyed their Guardians of the Galaxy with the improved sound mod. Zac Wollons was an awesome partner, and if only we could have managed to both have good games at the same time we might have taken home the plaque. I think I played 10 hours of pinball and had a ton of fun.

Thank you Jeff Teolis for getting me across the bay on a work night to play pinball! I had a great time playing flip frenzy on the huge variety of pins at Free Gold Watch, and it was fun meeting new folks like Imoto, Dan from Project Pinball, and Michael from Pindigo! And of course thank you Jeff for organizing such a fun event, and putting up with me blowing up Tales of the Arabian Nights.

So what did I learn in all this?

Have fun playing pinball you idiot!!!

It is now obvious that I can have fun playing tournaments. I really was starting to question whether that was true. But the take home is that how I do in a tournament isn’t what makes it fun. It’s the people and the pinball that makes it fun.

So all I need to do is play with fun people on fun machines, and I will be in pinball paradise. This means I will probably play in fewer tournaments, but hopefully enough to keep up with all my pin friends. And hopefully I will see friends out on location when I am playing my favorite routed games.

What I won’t do is care about tournament results. I already know that I am a pretty good player, so there is no longer any reason to care about WPPRs or how I finish in any given tournament. No reason to travel to bigger tournaments just because they are worth lots of points.

We will see how the rest of the year goes. Thanks for listening!

About David Lee

I play in the East Bay, mostly in Alameda, Oakland and Emeryville. Oakland Pinball Warriors is my main monthly tournament, and only occasionally make it to San Francisco for tournaments. My IFPA ranking bounces around 500, depending on how many tournaments I get to. I am DavidLee on Pindigo and LEE on scoreboards

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