Like many others, I was watching the live stream of the JJP #3 announcement, and like many others, I came to Pinside to express my opinion the various threads. I was angry and disappointed, and I wanted to express that with others in the community and join in the collective to have my voice heard. At the time, I felt like I had considered my words and that what I was saying was justified - I would say the same in person to anyone involved with the game, so that made my comments acceptable and appropriate.
Over the weekend I discussed it with a number of people who opened my eyes to what I had done, and made me realize something - pinball is people. It's not just machines, or themes, or parts, or even playing - the games themselves aren't created out of thin air by magic, they're made by people.
Designers, artists, programmers and engineers - each one of them is a person who has feelings and a passion for this game. No one working in pinball today is just putting in a 9-5 desk job, because pinball isn't a thriving business despite what others might think about the price points now. Pinball is barely a blip compared to other industries. Every one of the people involved in the design of pinball could probably go make more money designing slot machines or something else. They choose to do pinball because they love what they do.
When I made my comments, and when others made their comments, what they said hurt those people. It's not the specific comments themselves or who said it - I am a complete nobody with zero impact on the hobby or industry - but I was part of a wave of outright hatred and derision for a project that real people, with real passion, poured their hearts and souls into for over a year.
For me personally, having grown up online, I often forget that there's a difference between something said in person, as a friend, and something posted on a forum, in public. Even if you're not the most tactful person, at least in person there's a direct connection between you and the person you're talking to, and there's cues to pick up that help you pick up empathy for the other. This is gone online, and then compound it by hiding behind silly nicknames makes it so much easier to dismiss or ignore other people's feelings, or to reduce something to an abstract "other" that doesn't even seem real in the moment when you're dumping all over someone's hard work.
In all the negativity, barely anyone has taken the time to point out these guys busted their ass to prepare FIVE prototype games that not only survived a weekend of hard abuse from highly skilled and critical players, but also managed to really impress the vast majority of those hard-to-please hobbyists. It's an amazing accomplishment that is buried under the anger and hatred.
This goes for the other game teams involved - both Stern and Heighway brought prototypes for the public to see and play, and have real people who are as passionate about this hobby as well are, if not even more so. Even if I didn't comment on those games directly, my actions were still hurtful to them.
I am deeply ashamed of what's I've been involved with here. I am a 44-year-old man who posts on an internet forum behind a stupid nickname about pinball, who has essentially zero industry experience, and I let my passion and tactlessness get the best of me against people who did not deserve it and have accomplished more in this business than I will, ever. I have a 2-year-old son and when I look at him, I wonder what kind of example I am setting for him.
As part of that, I've asked Robin to change my nickname to my actual name, to stop hiding behind an alias, and to offer up my sincere apology to the entire Dialed Up team for my tactless participation in a shameful flamefest. It's time to grow the hell up and stop acting like a child. Thank you for making a new pinball machine in 2016 when many thought pinball was dead and gone forever.
I don't expect anything I've said here to make any difference - as stated previously, I am not anyone of note - but I hope it might help others look at their own participation more critically. We are all passionate, we all love pinball, but most importantly we should remember that we are all still human and have hopes and feelings.
Pinball is people.