Written by vpmaster2004, published June 23rd, 2013. No comments.
Ladies & Gentlemen, I want to tell you a little story about my passion for pinball!
It all started at a family reunion in 1993 or 1995. Almost all of the time, I was surrounded by video games & pinball machines. (This was at least maybe nearly twice almost every day I was at the reunion) I didn't really play pinball that much back then but there was a little spark that caused me to decide to enjoy & play pinball more, but years later (as early as maybe 2008 or 2009), that little spark had grown into a blazing inferno inside me. Just over almost 2 or 3 years ago, I decided to join a pinball league in Champaign, IL. (I do live with 2 of the best grandparents I could ever have), and last fall, I went to a place in McLean, IL called "America's playable arcade museum", and I won 3rd in the classics tournament there. Then this spring, I participated in the pinball league again (for the 3rd time), and about a week before the final tournament was held, all league players were invited for free play. At that point, I decided to look at things from a scientific view. I was already 2nd in Division B, and for the first time in the league's history (as far as I know), the top 4 finishers in both division A and division B would get automatic first round byes, which, for me, meant that I didn't have to play against anyone in my division during the first round. So, I decided to use the free play opportunity to collect some data. You might be wondering why I wanted to take things from a scientific point of view. Well, I used the time I had during free play to collect scores from some of the machines available. According to league rules, during the final tournament, each player in the league (at some point), must select a game to play, or the playing order. We play double elimination, so there's a winner's bracket & loser's bracket for both division A & B. So whoever wins 2 out of 3 games (the first time) moves on, while the loser goes to the loser's bracket. The loser gets a second chance. If they lose 2 more games, they're eliminated from the tournament. So basically, I played 3 games on each machine during free play, wrote down the scores, and moved on to the next game. I had to make sure that I had the best odds, so basically, the games I played that had low scores, I made sure that I could avoid those games, if at all possible. The ones that had really good scoring would be the ones I'd choose during the tournament. I did some calculations using Microsoft Excel, and assigned each pinball machine I played what I called an "optimal strength score" (which was the total score of all games divided by 3). The higher the optimal strength score for a particular machine, the bigger the chance I had of winning on that particular machine. For example, I did absolutely fantastic on Swords of Fury. There were some machines that we couldn't play, because of game conditions, etc. Let's say that my optimal strength score on Swords of Fury is 5 million points. If I go above that score at any point during the playing of this game, then I am really good. If the final score in a given round on that machine is lower than that, then I need to work on getting better at that game. I made it my mission to get as close to my optimal strength score for each game as possible, and in some cases, I was able to beat my optimal strength score that I assigned to each game I played. I lost 2 games once (and I think it was about halfway into the tournament), so I was able to take a break. Then I got really good once it was time for me to play again. Then, I made it into the final round. I had to beat a nice person named Molly, in 2 sets of 2 games in order to win the title for my division. If I had indeed won those 2 sets of 2 games each, I would've won $50, a trophy, a prize of my choice, and an automatic place in division A next fall. 2nd would get $30, a trophy, and a prize of their choice. 3rd would've just gotten $20. Well, I beat Molly 2 to zip in the first set of the final games, and then I thought to myself: "Nathan, you made it this far, so it really doesn't matter what happens! You've already won!", so out of pure sportsmanship, I let Molly win the division B title, and settled with 2nd place. Even though I could've brung home a pinball related prize of my choice, I declined. The trophy and the cash was all I was after. I now have my first pinball trophy from my pinball league for winning 2nd in division B, and I for one couldn't be any happier, nor could I ever be more prouder than I am now. It pays to play!