My current journey with pinball

By Gubbin

November 01, 2022

This story got featured & frontpaged on November 02, 2022

25 days ago

I was born in the 80's and a child of the 90's.  My earliest memory of pinball was a 1985 Williams Sorcerer in a small town bowling alley. I was always fascinated with the game but never understood more than making the flippers work.  I grew up going to SilverBall in our local mall.  Silverball had pinball machines  but I  was always more attracted to Street Figher II, Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat.  Every summer we had a family reunion at a resort on Lake Tenkiller in Oklahoma that had a pretty nice arcade. I have a distinct memory of losing many quarters to Rudy's evil tauntings. I never had a real appreciation for the things that really make pinball special .  The feel of the game, the music, callouts and the scores/rules.  I never knew there was more to the game than just keeping the ball from draining.  

  Fast forward to winter of 2021.  A friend invited me to a local bar that has killer drinks, a nice variety of pinball machines and a great atmosphere (Pinpoint / Fayetteville, Arkansas). I was just coming off a long streak of World of Warcraft play and looking for something new to consume my new found free time. I was instantly captivated by nostalgia and fascination.  Pinpoint is far enough away that I don't get to play as much as I'd like.   This led to the next phase in my journey.  This next part is a little controversial in the pinball community, but please read on and hear me out.  That next step was virtual pinball.   

The same friend who turned me on to the cool bar also introduced me to virtual pinball.   A way to "experience" many of the all time greats in a simulated fashion. I played around with VPX on my desktop computer but I knew like most things, this wouldn't suffice.  I found a whole new community of friendly people who are very passionate about pinball.  I soon had a working bill of materials and ordered parts for a full size vpin cab.  3 months later after a ton of research and a lot of sanding/painting/soldering/crimping, the 4k vpin was complete. 4k/120hz screen, Simulated ball sounds through exciters, soleniods for forceback, tons of addressable leds, and analog nudge.  This is the part where I really want purist pinheads to hear me out.  I still love real pinball.  I went to TPF in march 2022 (and plan to go back).  I still visit Pinpoint once or twice a month.  When I travel for work or pleasure, I make sure to find all the spots with pins.  No one in the VP community thinks "vpx" is better than real pinball.  In fact, many of those people have real pins. Without that community, I wouldn't have been able to sustain a long term interest in pinball.   I've enjoyed this journey so much that I've placed an order for my first real pin (Deadpool Pro) for my home!  I might be the exception to the rule.  I realize a lot of people can't afford modern pin prices.  I see VP as a gateway to attract new players like myself.  I know for a fact, the vpinheads that can't afford it, seek out real pins and dedicate revenue to operator environments. 

What's next?  Well.. I'm patiently waiting for my DP to arrive (spring 23?)  Someday, I'd like to restore a project pin....maybe something DMD era?  I don't see myself stopping at just 1 real pin.  Who can do that?  My dream is barncade in the backyard, we'll see.  In the meantime... I have no plans to get rid of the Vpin.  That community is still growing and doing amazing things.  I also hope to improve my skills, I'm still pretty terrible.   I look forward to meeting some of you at TPF and random bars/arcades.   Thanks to all the folks who keep this site/forum operational. 

Here's a couple pics of my cab.  Gotta make room for that DP!

Story photos

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24 days ago

Great history...
No need to justify your likes or dislikes...what matters is what YOU enjoy. Isn't it great that pinball offers a wide range of game play, from a wide range of eras, and in a wide range of budgets.
Get out there and play, meet other pinheads, and pass on the passion to the next lucky person. Pinball has an amazing history that is still being written...
All the best
The BALLY Lama

24 days ago

Great story and great job on the cabinet. I had to comment on your article when I saw Pinpoint. We go there periodically and play, pretty cool place. We ran in for a bit last saturday night before dinner. It was fun to see all the people in costumes and the halloween/monster themed pins for halloween. I'm not sure why, but I have loved pinball since i was a small kid. I'm not even that great, but it doesn't stop me from loving to play.. I try to play a little almost every day. Sometimes its even good therapy. And no, you won't stop at just one pin.
Enjoy, keep dreaming, and I hope you build your barncade some day!

23 days ago

Nice story. Like another commenter said, don't worry about what others think. Enjoy what matters to you. Virtual pinball is just another "branch" of the pinball hobby. I was big into playing The Pinball Arcade on my tablet before I purchased my first machines.

23 days ago

That is a slick looking vpin. I made one out of an old Bullseye redemption pin, but yours looks much better and you went all out on a lot of the extra features. They really are great for most of us who can't or don't have a warehouse full of pins but still want to learn how to play a lot of them. Hats off to the people out there programming the roms and sharing them for free.

21 days ago

Diddo what Bally Lama said. And yes, it is easy to feel that one machine will lead to others (I have that fever myself but not the pocketbook).I'll have to work on that. Good word Barncade, I like it! Good Luck making your dream a reality!

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