In the small city where I grew up, there simply was no pinball. I have a vague memory of there being one at the local bowling alley, but the problem was, it stood right next to The Simpson's arcade game, and I knew I could stretch my money out more on that. I remember having this feeling when I'd look at the other machine, this thought of how curious it was. A long wooden board, two flippers, and a ball that rolls around. This is how people 'used' to have fun, way back in the past. But, now we have video games, obviously, and that's how my child-brain worked it. I most likely played the game once to conclude that arcade video games gave more bang for the buck, drained fast, and never looked back. There's no way to know which game it was, I can't possibly remember. This would have been around 1991. It was the same year I went into my first arcade at another point, and played Street Fighter II, at a local rock and mineral show. I was six years old.
Twenty one years go by, and nothing really changes from that original perspective. As one would expect, I grew up with console games and big fat arcade units, not pinball machines. I had seen them here and there in the 90's, popping up unexpectedly, a T2, or a Getaway, some DMD game at the local movie theater perhaps, but not once did I ever give them another shot. I was graduated from school and on into my late twenties at this point. The arcades of my youth had all shut down, no more House of the Dead or Alien vs. Predator, the American landscape having changed forever. I drove up to Austin to visit my friend while he attended a college for chefs, and to entertain us, he suggested we go to Pinballz, a huge two level arcade. Immediately I was struck by the sheer 'amount' of these machines there were, the variety, all the eras where their technology advanced little by little, much of which I'd been around for and just hadn't seen. Your local arcade owner needed to have bought these things, and mine hadn't.
I wandered around and, as you might expect of a novice outside the hobbie, I floated from DMD to DMD from the 90's, mostly putting my tokens towards movie-licensed games based on films that I remembered, like Jurassic Park or Demolition Man, Addams Family and Waterworld, the list goes on. There were just rows and rows of these things, fully refurbished and lit up with LED's. But if anything, my lack of knowledge caused me to feel frustrated by the experience. Each one of these machines had dedicated rule sets to them, and even though it told me what to do as I played, I wasn't skilled enough to accomplish those goals. Game after game, drain after drain, I can't say it was making a great impression on me. And that's when I came upon something older. A big red demon greeted me. It was Gorgar. So far I'd only done one token per game, but this was ultimately where I stopped. I sunk token after token into this thing, it never told me what to do (the speech was too primitive for that), I just read the playfield and learned in tiny pieces as I went, it was more of an experience than any gimmick or toy on a playfield could ever offer. For the first time ever, I was having fun playing pinball! And I was hooked. Now, with six machines in my collection (including my long term goal of getting a Gorgar thankfully), my enjoyment for the hobby has only grown, and I continue to do my best in prodding others to give it a shot.