I was born in 1990 - a time when the glory days of the traditional arcade were beginning to dwindle into obscurity. That is to say I was born too late for the silver ball to capture my attention until much later in life. By the time I was old enough to move freely about town, all the arcades had been replaced by shoe stores, clothing boutiques, and that place that sells costumes for pets. It's unlikely someone my age would become a pinball fanatic. Most of my friends spend their time playing XBOX Live because they got into console gaming as kids.
Fast forward to 2014. I was freshly out of college, thrust forth into the real world (though somewhat unwillingly), and seemingly in possession of much more free time than ever. I was out one day at the mall sifting through mounds of outerwear for my cat (not really) when I noticed something familiar lighting up across the hall. Among a sea of pinball machines was one that read 'Star Trek' across the top. That's right - I'm a product solely of the licensed theme. I had never really played pinball before, but I really enjoyed the Star Trek movies and thought I would give it a go.
After playing badly but enjoying the callouts for about 45 minutes, a man approached me and suggested I join the local pinball league. It was Pinside's very own LOTR_BREATH. As expected, I laughed a little and said I wasn't much of a pinball player. I did find, however, I enjoyed the game so much that I continued to go back to the mall each day that week until Friday when we left for a family beach trip.
The place where we stayed at the beach had an arcade directly across the street. We went there for an evening of fun, and tucked away in the darkest, most remote part of the arcade were four pinball machines sitting in a row. I dropped a few quarters in Funhouse and never looked back. I probably spent more time in that arcade the rest of the trip than I did in the sand. Star Trek drew me in and Funhouse brought on the obsession. I started league the week after we returned.
Fast forward again to this year. I recently won the Alabama State Championship and now have more games than I can fit in my first-home basement. I have bought and sold 15 games in a little over two years. I even had to put a game in the bathroom. Don't worry - it's not near the toilet and nobody uses the shower. Before you berate me about humidity, etc. just know that it's a temporary solution. I've had a local arcade tech friend teach me about fixing EMs and have become quite adept at doing so. I'm happily married (recently), and she puts up with my craziness as long as it stays confined to the basement.
Pinball has taught me many things I thought I would never learn. It has allowed me to be competitive in something I enjoy and fills the void in my free time. I don't think my obsession is going to end any time soon. I'm stuck in.
I think someone here on Pinside said it best: "The last thing I want to do when I get home from looking at a screen all day is look at a screen all night."