(Topic ID: 36979)

Recommend a pin for my autistic son


By nosro

7 years ago



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  • 57 posts
  • 45 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 years ago by detroit_pinball
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider

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    #1 7 years ago

    BACKGROUND
    I have an eleven year old autistic son. Among his many challenges is a problem with eye tracking - he has difficulty following a baseball thrown through the air, for example. Besides visits with eye therapists, video games are good for everyday vision exercise except that he is completely uninterested in (and probably intimidated by) all video games. Imagine my surprise when I learned that he enjoys pinball! Pinball makes for excellent vision therapy that he is motivated to perform.

    I purchased "Hurricane" because of the large looping ramp that would force him to track a silver ball through a large sweeping trajectory. But Clay Harrell pointed out that the game also has a cluttered upper field, making for a tight mid/lower field that can be too fast. He gave the example of "Black Knight" as a particularly unsuitable pin for my son due to its very close-quartered (fast) dual playfields.

    QUESTION
    What pin (from any era) is somewhat slow and with a long, open playfield that my son can use to build up his eye tracking skills? It would be nice if this pin were somewhat reliable and popular enough that I have a chance of finding one on Craigslist. He likes the Xbox/PS3 versions of "Big Shot" and "Black Hole" (but video game equivalents are less desirable as visual exercises since they do not have actual depth that forces the player to constant refocus the eyes).

    I appreciate any input that the community can provide.

    #2 7 years ago

    Most of the Gottlieb and Stern widebodies from the early 80's are wide open and easy to keep an eye on the ball. They can be set to play relatively slow too.

    #3 7 years ago

    Iron man has a nice open playfield, but that may be over your budget
    I would go for a late 70's/ early 80s machine, no ramps to block his view, no multiball

    But I may be underestimating your son, I had a CFTBL stay at a friends place, this game has ramps everywhere and is poorly lit, my freinds son (who had development problems) loved playing the game

    So I guess it is the same advice that everyone gets;
    go to a convention or a dealer, let your child play many different games, let him tell you what he enjoys playing

    #4 7 years ago

    Might want to start out with an older EM. I'm guessing that slower would be better to start out with. Widebody is a good idea as well. An old EM or early SS widebody!

    I guess you could flatten out the angle on a newer pin and make it a little slower but the flippers are still going to throw it around pretty fast.

    #5 7 years ago

    I also have a autistic son.....he is now 17. In relavence to your pin question, I'd say for a value with the reliability of a modern machine, and the simplicity of a older generation machine, I think Capcoms Breakshot is right up your alley. A fine example should be had for 1k to 1200.
    If you do some research one of the top younger pin players is also autistic....although they don't disclose it....if you met him you would know he is. My son is ADHD high function with asperger syndrome..He is more into video games, he thinks pinball is boring....likes it for about 2 minutes

    #6 7 years ago

    Mata Hari is a popular older SS pin that might fit your needs, it pops up on craigslist from time to time.

    Mata Hari:
    http://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?gid=4501

    #7 7 years ago

    Although I can't accurately recommend any certain pin for your son, I would like to say my 13 yr. old daughter also has Autism. About 7 yrs. ago I had 3 pins at once, Twilight Zone, CFTBL and Demo Man. She was drawn like a magnet to DM and played it a lot. I believe she related to the image of Sandra Bullock and the voice calls. We also had the issue of eye tracking and eye to eye contact.

    My recommendation to you is to take your son to an arcade or pinball show and see what he is drawn to other than trying to 'guess' what he'll like/play.

    It's a long tough road to travel as I know first hand, but I can see you're on the right path with your son and congrats that he likes pins!

    Good Luck!

    #8 7 years ago

    I agree with Bowman on Mata Hari. It has a simple long play field. Each side of the play field is exactly the same, almost like it is mirrored. Many older EM games are like this, and earlier SS as well.

    Others I can think of and suggest as far as open playfield and not being screaming fast are Night Rider (not based on the TV show), Black Pyramid, Surfer, Eight Ball (the original), Gorgar is on the slow side (but you may not like the demonic theme).

    Keep an eye on your local craigslist and if you see something you think may work, report back and we would all be more than happy to help you out.

    #9 7 years ago

    This is an awesome story by the op. can't wait to see how it plays out.

    My recommendation would be wcs (world cup soccer). 2 huge clear ramps to follow the ball. A goal at the top of the pf to shoot for. Depends on whether the theme is up yours (and his) alley.

    #10 7 years ago

    By nature an autistic child is going to love any pinball machine put in front of them. You really cannot go wrong. The only pause for concern is a theme they dont care for. I might know. I think world cup soccer is an excellent idea.

    #11 7 years ago

    Don't know which game but will say that Clay (only know him by reputation) is a good guy to deal with.

    #12 7 years ago

    Id vote a mid to late 70s williams EM. plenty of titles, lots of open playfield and not too fast unless you set them up for fast

    --Jeff

    #13 7 years ago

    i too have an autistic son. he likes pinball and video games. the other members have posted some great sugestions. i second a recomendation that you go to a pinball show or arcade and find some pins that we and you enjoy. then find one for sale near you. good luck and happy hunting.

    #14 7 years ago

    I also have an 11 year old autistic son who really likes EM machines. 4 Square and Jacks Open are his favorite. He likes my Godzilla and Tron, but always goes back to the EMs. I would recommend you start there.

    #15 7 years ago

    FWIW, I give another vote to old Ballys or old Sterns. Capcom Breakshot also seems like a good suggestion.

    I don't know how much theme plays into your decision, but I think it would also help to pick a theme that draws him in.

    #16 7 years ago

    Is Black Hole good? that has a similar wide open play field and a cool theme. Good luck with your search!

    #17 7 years ago

    I haven't played one in a long, long time, but I think that you might want to give the game Bad Cats a shot...

    Pretty open playfield, fun theme, modern looking, has a couple big ramps and it is only a single ball game too. Put the leg levelers all flat, and I think it would work very well for what you're looking for.

    Also, if he digs Black Hole or Big Shot, why not try getting one of those? Agreed that those are great games!

    #18 7 years ago

    Wow - thank you for all the feedback here! I hear a lot of recommendations for mid-70's EM. I will start narrowing my search.

    Visiting a pinball show is not an option - my son is easily overwhelmed by noisy places, which is why we limit visits to our excellent local arcade (with approx 7 well maintained pins - FH, TAF, ToM, LOTR, etc.) to 15 minutes. I have few other choices than to trust the wisdom of this community and go for it.

    I would buy Black Hole or Hot Shot if I could find them - thus far, I am not seeing them come up in any half decent condition. I do live near Clay Harrell (what a super helpful guy), so I'm confident whatever I buy can be made to work, but I don't want to buy a restoration job.

    #19 7 years ago

    I currently see a Stern Galaxy ($1200), two (?!) Cleopatras ($700), and a Flash ($1200) in my area. Any thoughts on these?

    #20 7 years ago

    I didn't see it mentioned. You should check out Robert Gagno, an autistic pinball wizard who will surely be an inspiration in your journey.

    #21 7 years ago

    I think Elvira and party monsters or creature would be good, has large flowing ramps.

    #22 7 years ago

    The game that immediately came to mind reading this was Haunted House. Wide body so it feels slow, and the ball is also in the open all the time except for when you get to the lower playfield... Not sure if that part would be confusing or interesting for your son.

    Someone else recommended Black Hole, which has a similar feel, but I also think its brutally difficult for a kid (ball drains from the lower playfield if all drops aren't hit).

    #23 7 years ago

    If you want to ship it, I would be willing to sell my restored 1971 Yukon Special to you and your son for pretty cheap. If you are interested, send me a message.

    It's an EM, so not as exciting as a SS game, but it plays slow and comfortably.

    #24 7 years ago

    Hi, my two sons , 3 and 5, really loved our Party Animal machine. It is very colorfull and has nice music. The playfield is very open and has two large plasic ramps. Over here in the netherlands its also very cheap so good for starting.

    Good luck with your search,

    Bas

    #25 7 years ago
    Quoted from nosro:

    I currently see a Stern Galaxy ($1200), two (?!) Cleopatras ($700), and a Flash ($1200) in my area. Any thoughts on these?

    all three are great games. galaxy has no slingshots so it will play slightly slower than some other games.

    #26 7 years ago

    Something like hounted house or blackhole, have wide open fields and slow ball movement for the most part. the extra fields are a little faster though.

    #27 7 years ago

    Go simple yet fun at first. MH is good one.

    I would do early Solid State.

    #28 7 years ago

    Bally Space Invaders. HUGE playfield and relatively open & uncluttered. The loop shot in the middle might be of interest to him. Nice looking pin, too!
    Hope this helps a little!
    Doc

    #29 7 years ago

    I would think a wide open playfield would be best. And something a little bit slower like an EM. I think something in the ElDorado / Target Alpha series would be best. Or perhaps a Xenon.

    #30 7 years ago

    Atari Superman would be good. Its a widebody, and pretty challenging to spell superman. Price should be under 1K. Plus, everyone loves superman right?

    #31 7 years ago

    After thinking about this a bit, here's some other ideas.

    Bally early SS games.
    ==============
    Bally Mata Hari
    eight ball
    bobby orr powerplay
    evel knievel
    harlem globetrotters
    nitro ground shaker
    playboy (perhaps a bad choice for other reasons)
    space invader
    Bally Star Trek
    paragon
    strike and spares
    super sonic

    EMs game
    =======
    gtb 300
    gtb 4 square
    bly air aces
    gtb big indian / big brave
    gtb card wiz / royal flush
    gtb eldorado/target alpha / solar city
    gtb far out / out of sight
    gtb quick draw / fast draw
    gtb flying carpet
    wms grand prix
    gtb high hand
    gtb jungle queen / jungle princess
    sonic mars trek
    wms oxo
    gtb king pin / pin up
    gtb pop a card / drop a card
    gtb sheriff / lawman
    bly capt fantastic

    On black hole and haunted house...
    it's an interesting concept. top playfield is wide open (but a bit of a drain monster.) But the lower playfield is tight and hard to keep the ball in play. so it's a little of both worlds... but it may be just too frustrating. BH in particular is a brutally difficult game to play well.

    If you would like, we can arrange a time for you and your son to come by and see the games (alone with no one else there.) We have 125 games set up and restored so you could get a good idea of what is good/bad, and we're only about 3 miles from your house. But it has to be a time when no one else is there (as i explained i have insurance issues with those under the age of 21, so we have to really monitor the situation closely with no other distractions.)

    #32 7 years ago
    Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

    If you want to ship it, I would be willing to sell my restored 1971 Yukon Special to you and your son for pretty cheap. If you are interested, send me a message.
    It's an EM, so not as exciting as a SS game, but it plays slow and comfortably.

    I have a 17 year old son with Down syndrome and some autistic tendencies. He plays Klondike over the firepower next to it. Yukon and Klondike are the same machine so I second wolfmarsh suggestion.

    #33 7 years ago

    GTB system 1 games. How about Countdown it has a great outer space theme, simple rules and it's a blast to play.

    #34 7 years ago

    Start with an EM.

    Move up as his interest/skill level increases.

    Great idea, OP!

    #35 7 years ago

    I'd say GTB Dimension.
    Simple, fun, colorful and there is a moment of discovery when the player realizes how to light WOW and get Add-A-Balls to keep the game going.
    Not too expensive, lots of them in the Northeast US, plus its a great game so you'll have no problem finding a buyer if your son outgrows it.

    Best of Luck!

    -Riles

    #36 7 years ago

    For a newer game, WPT has the most wide open playfield out of any game I've ever played. There is nothing on the lower playfield besides drop targets around the perimeter and its not a real fast playing game. The upper playfield isn't hard to get to and is also very basic. Genie is another one that comes to mind. Although theres a lot of stuff on the playfield, Genie tends to play painfully slow in my experience regardless of setup.

    #37 7 years ago

    After putting some time on Bobby Orr's Power Play, I think that would be an excellent choice. It has right and left orbit that feed an upper play field area with one ball capture. It also has pop bumpers and drop targets. The ball is always visible.

    You should find it for around $600-$800. It has a simple rule set that is also fun and addicting.

    I would also recommend that you choose an EM or early SS with chimes. The sound is crisp and clear without being overwhelming.

    Another excellent choice would be Bally Evel Knieval. Not only does it have a great play field and pinball toys, i.e. pop bumpers, spinners, drop targets, etc, it also has animation in the back glass.

    I wish you and your son all the best!

    Marcus

    #38 7 years ago

    I have an 8 year old Son with autism. Before responding to this thread I asked him which game was his favorite to play. He said he likes X-Men because of the spinner and the lights. He has always liked things that spin so this was an easy choice for him.

    At the National Pinball Museum, he tends to favor Black Hole and Avatar. Hope this helps.

    #39 7 years ago

    Testing them in arcades won't be so easy: noisy environment, mostly recent games. But you can still show pictures / videos on youtube or pinball simulations to know if he likes the pin or not.

    Many suggestions above seem good.
    - Bobby Orr's power play is a great game.
    - Black hole fits your bill but is indeed unforgiving: you may hear "failed reentry attempt" too much. I wonder if one can adjust settings to avoid losing the ball after playing on the lower playfield.
    - Genie is indeed very slow...
    - World Poker Tour seems a good suggestion for a recent game

    Among the machine I own, three would fit your agenda (open playfield, limited or no multiball, ball easy to track, not too fast (?)):
    - Banzai Run: Can be fast, but there is a nice large circular ramp. He may enjoy the vertical PF as well. Limited multiball.
    - Bally Spectrum: lots of drop targets, 3 balls but never more than one played at a time (!) But the side lanes are hidden, so you can't keep track of the ball all the time.
    - Zaccaria Pinball Champ. Most 2nd generation zac would fit your bill: no multiball, interesting shots, transparent upper playfield allowing you to follow the ball at all times.

    Besides that, widebodies from the 80's such as Paragon, Volcano, Devil's dare and space invaders (already cited) could be considered.

    Hope this helps,

    #40 7 years ago
    Quoted from baltistyle:

    I didn't see it mentioned. You should check out Robert Gagno, an autistic pinball wizard who will surely be an inspiration in your journey.

    Thank you for that reference. I found this 20-minute Science Channel documentary about him for anyone interested:

    #41 7 years ago

    I found a Gottlieb Dragon on CL. Any thoughts on this?

    This particular one claims to include a Pascal Janin all-in-one X4 board and I'm wondering what a reasonable price range might be.

    #42 7 years ago
    Quoted from nosro:

    I found a Gottlieb Dragon on CL. Any thoughts on this?
    This particular one claims to include a Pascal Janin all-in-one X4 board and I'm wondering what a reasonable price range might be.

    I would highly recommend taking Clay's offer. He's one of the top experts in the country on vintage pinball. Once he knows which of his games your son likes, he could help you identify which available games in your area are most similar. He also has all kinds of connections and may know about games that are not otherwise available to you.

    Dragon shouldn't cost more than $500 unless there's something very special about it. You'll almost never find any complete game for less than $200, so somewhere in the $200-500 range depending on condition.

    Quoted from cfh:

    If you would like, we can arrange a time for you and your son to come by and see the games (alone with no one else there.) We have 125 games set up and restored so you could get a good idea of what is good/bad, and we're only about 3 miles from your house. But it has to be a time when no one else is there (as i explained i have insurance issues with those under the age of 21, so we have to really monitor the situation closely with no other distractions.)

    #43 7 years ago

    I have an appointment to take Clay up on his generous offer. I'm just seeing if I can do some advanced research to make my limited time with him as productive as possible.

    #44 7 years ago

    Our youngest son is 12 and moderately autistic.He sees a lot of pinball here and has shown very little interest with the exception of 3 games I have noted.Safe Cracker,Royal Flush(1976) and Iron Man although he typically gets so hyped up playing IM that he ends up bouncing then running away from it.

    The EM game seems to be the one that he can handle truly playing best.It doesn't seem to over stimulate his senses and moves at a pace he seems to be able to follow better.

    Christopher Hutchins

    #45 7 years ago

    Huge thumbs up for clay.

    #46 7 years ago
    Quoted from RonB:

    My recommendation to you is to take your son to an arcade or pinball show and see what he is drawn to other than trying to 'guess' what he'll like/play.

    I agree about introducing your son to many pinballs... I think going to an arcade maybe difficult to get his attention focused just on pinball, with many other games there too.

    Idea: Maybe you could post an ad in your local Criagslist, asking for local pinheads to invite you over to their home collection to test some games. I know I would be very happy to accommodate a request like that in my town.

    Kerry

    #47 7 years ago
    Quoted from cfh:

    If you would like, we can arrange a time for you and your son to come by and see the games (alone with no one else there.) We have 125 games set up and restored so you could get a good idea of what is good/bad, and we're only about 3 miles from your house. But it has to be a time when no one else is there (as i explained i have insurance issues with those under the age of 21, so we have to really monitor the situation closely with no other distractions.)

    I just posted midway in the thread, without reading it to the bottom. This is what I'm talking about.

    #48 7 years ago

    Super nice of Clay to invite you in. I hope you and your son enjoy it.

    #49 7 years ago

    rollar coaster tycoon

    #50 7 years ago
    Quoted from nosro:

    Thank you for that reference. I found this 20-minute Science Channel documentary about him for anyone interested:
    » YouTube video

    Awesome video...thanks for sharing!

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