When I was a wee lad my father would take my sister and I to pizza arcades and the like. One of them I fondly remember was Pizza and Pipes near or in Pontiac, MI. I am pretty sure this is where I played Mata Hari because I remember the center saucer, a lot of red, and that back glass! Through the years whenever my dad and I went to arcades we would play pinball together rather then video games. I remember my dad saying, "I prefer pinball because I know what to do right away." I'm sure that was not the only reason, but to me it made sense. It was like the other games would be a waste of money just trying to learn them. It did not matter to me what we played, I just enjoyed doing things with him. Most of our time was spent at shooting ranges on the weekends (target shooting was my father's hobby). I liked this a lot also, but going to the arcade was more like something he was doing for and with me instead of me tagging along with his hobbie.
Fastfoward 25 years... I built a Mame cocktail because I wanted to play Galaga like I did in the pizza parlors as a kid. Then I started searching the internet and found people with amazing full arcades in their basements (the obsession begins!). At this time my house did not have a basement, but my next house did! I started buying broken 80's arcade games and fixing them until I had about 15 in my basement. Then I thought - it's time for a pinball machine! I did not know anything about fixing them, so I tried to find a game that at least partially worked. I did not just by one though, I bought two; a Jungle Queen and a Mata Hari SS (oohh that back glass). I had an issue with the JQ, so I searched the net again and found Clay Harell. He came over and fixed issues I had with several games (I had about 4 pins at this point), and I sold him the Jungle Queen. Clay introduced me to other pinheads in the Detroit area, and it was off to the races.
I believe it takes a unique personality to become driven to learn about and collect things of value. I learned and inherited this trait from my father. He was into target shooting / gun collecting, along with countless other hobbies through the years. I lost him to cancer last year, to the day I write this. One of the most validating things in my life was my father recognizing and complementing me on all I had done with pinball and how amazing my arcade was to him. He thought it was awesome that I had found this hobby on my own and turned it into part of my idenitity, just as he had with his hobbies. I will never forget him laying on my couch with his eyes closed while his cousin and I played all of my games loudly. I said, "I can turn the volume down if you need to take a nap, dad," he replied with, "No, I'm listening to all of the diffrent sounds! Keep playing, I like it." A few months later my Dad passed away, and a few weeks after I found out my wife was pregnant. I now have a 3 month old boy to spend time with and pass on my love of pinball, or a hobbie he might choose. In the meantime I will "keep playing."