My last tournament of the year will be Santa’s Day Off on December 29th. I am looking forward to playing pinball. I am looking forward to playing in a tournament. But I am particularly looking forward to seeing my pinball friends. I miss seeing all of you!
Now I totally admit that it is my fault that I haven’t seen many people recently. My pinball life totally changed the last half of the year. I came to some interesting realizations about myself and competitive pinball (see Bursting My Tournament Bubble and Finding Out what Makes Pinball Fun), but I didn’t realize how drastically until today.
Since I have only been going to tournaments for the fun not the points, I have gone to almost nothing in the last six months. I have been enjoying the Pacific Pinball Museum (PPM) League, because there are always fun games to play and a more casual atmosphere (no WPPRs). Other than PPM League, I went to Frankenstein’s Hangover to support Leslie Ruckman as she ran her first tournament and the Pinball Profile World Tour at Free Gold Watch. That’s it. Two tournaments in six months!
Including those two, I have only played in 11 tournaments this year. Last year I played in 19 and in 2017 I played in 18. So I am already down by close to 50%. And with IFPA changes to selfie leagues and the Oakland Pinball Warriors venue, I probably won’t have a monthly WPPR tournament anymore.
This has meant that I mostly play pinball by myself again. I put up selfie scores and occasionally run into people on location, but tournaments are the real pinball gatherings. Getting into the East Bay competitive pinball scene six years ago introduced me to this social aspect of pinball, but my competitive drive during tournaments always made it pinball first and socializing second. Maybe that is something I need to try to change.
With my new outlook on competitive pinball, I think casual (non-WPPR) pinball might have to be my main social pinball outlet in the future. PPM League is always a ton of fun. We play competitive formats each league night, but the emphasis is on everyone doing well and getting better, not beating one another. I really miss the Gentleperson’s Pinball Society (GPS), a casual Oakland league that last met mid-2017. There was always great competition, but also a ton of cheering and joking. So far it has been my favorite combination of serious pinball and fun socializing.
So what is in my social pinball future?
First, there is Santa’s Day Off! I am looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow. I am going to try to relax my competitive drive a bit, to see if I can be a little more social. Since I am not on a mission to get WPPRs, it would be nice to make the finals cut and play more games but not at the expense of my enjoyment and the fun of hanging with friends. It will be an experiment. Anyone reading this know that even if my face looks serious, I am always happy to chat and catch up.
Second, I might need to take the initiative and run some casual pinball events or even a league. I have been hoping to find a new pinball home (like Scarlet City and Hi-Life) with enough machines to reboot GPS, but that sadly hasn’t happened in the Oakland area. There are a number of places with four machines, so maybe starting small will work. Or maybe I can figure out a format that would work even if more than 16 people show up (split-flipper!!!)
We will see what happens the New Year brings.