The irony is...one of pinball’s biggest competition throughout the last few decades, is what got me into pinball.
Let's back up. I spent my childhood during the NES - PS1 era and spent a lot of time playing video games. I've never been a huge fan of video arcade games with just a few exceptions, mostly just the shallow rule sets and story isn't appealing to me and I lost interest fast. However, I remember being fascinated by pinball machines whenever I would see them. I had no clue what I was doing or understood the rules of the game, but making a ramp shot was somehow enough to create a few memories.
Fast forward a bit, I remember being surprisingly curious about that simple little windows pinball game, and thinking "wow, this is a little more in depth than I though it would be." Little did I know what this curiosity would later turn into. Later I would discover the 'Williams Collection' for the wii and I thought that since I liked that pinball game from before, this game might be fun. At this point I couldn't name a handful of real pins I have actually played...or admittedly, even heard of.
It didn't take long before I was studying shot maps and memorizing every rule in this game. I was blown away at the complexity and addictiveness of the rules. My wife (Jess) and I competed for high scores and I bored her to death explaining what every shot did. I researched with whatever I could find on the history of the industry, and the significance of some of the classics throughout the decades.
I started seeking out pins to play for real, and soon realized that yes, that game is a good snapshot of what the game was like, but there is no way to capture the real feeling of an actual machine. After weeks of contemplating and reasoning with my wife, I brought home a Creature from the Black Lagoon.
I found myself actually liking to work on the pin as much as I like playing. I would find excuses to rebuild something or just clean it.
Jess became more and more comfortable with it in the game room and actually played it quite a bit. But then I got this crazy idea, that we might have fun if we had...two machines. Once again, the process started all over again and before long I had a Getaway - which I feel complimented Creature really well.
Then Star Wars (DE) made it into the house - I've written an up-to-date rule sheet for this, but still working on getting this published on the IPDB.
At the time of writing this, I purchased a White Water last night. I am very excited about this one and know that we are going to enjoy this one.
I've had to do a lot of arranging around, but my current plan is to have 2 in the basement and 1 in the garage. Sadly, I may have to send one off into the wild and it will most likely be Getaway. Not that I don't like it, but I have learned I like the deep rule sets and complexity on the playfield.
So that’s where I am at with my hobby. I like to find pins in the area and drop a few quarters every now and then. I wouldn't mind going to the museum in Vegas sometimes. I read a lot and watch about the history, repairing, and the technique of playing pinball.
My only regret is that I lived through the times when most of the great games were on location and I did not play them. However, it seems to be a cool time right now of people buying and restoring for personal use, so it’s been a real joy to own these and repair / customize to my liking.
I still play the occasional video game every now and then, but it is too late for me and I am ok with the fact that I will be a pinhead for many years to come :).