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(Topic ID: 198293)

Vote - who saved pinball?


By onetaste

3 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 94 posts
  • 74 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by robotron
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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    Topic poll

    “In your opinion, who saved pinball?”

    • Roger Sharpe 72 votes
      24%
    • Josh Sharpe (& the IFPA team) 12 votes
      4%
    • Gary Stern 126 votes
      42%
    • The Pinball Arcade 48 votes
      16%
    • Pinside 44 votes
      15%

    (Multiple choice - 302 votes by 263 Pinsiders)

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    There are 94 posts in this topic. You are on page 2 of 2.
    #51 3 years ago
    Quoted from Chitownpinball:

    My vote goes to hipsters. Barcades wouldnt be a thing without them.

    Barcades usually have a short lifespan. 2 to 3 years.

    LTG : )

    #52 3 years ago

    Gary Stern. Without Stern, pinball was dead for sure.

    #53 3 years ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    Barcades usually have a short lifespan. 2 to 3 years.
    LTG : )

    What? Almost every barcade that opens around here and is done well has stood tall and does extremely well. Like lines out the door and people waiting to get in...

    My buddy down in the bay area has been managing a few arcade portions of barcades and they just opened their 4th one I think and all are slammed.

    #54 3 years ago

    Arcades have a made a good comeback in places. I wouldn't put one up in small town Kansas just yet, but the kids who grew up in arcades in the 80s now have the income and time to relive some great memories, and that nostalgia is doing a world of good for operators. Give me a good set of pins and some good brew, and I'll make it a weekly thing.

    #55 3 years ago

    Well, it certainly wasn't these guys.

    fa_953_pinballban3_970 (resized).jpg

    #56 3 years ago

    Gary Stern gets my vote. I'm sure if all production ceased after B/W closed shop there would still be tens of thousands of old games around but less new people get exposed as those pins get old, destroyed and swallowed up in home collections.

    By keeping the new pins rolling even weak pins, Stern kept interest alive and uptick with the release of Tron/AcDc

    I think JJP could have taken over from scratch but it not have had fertile ground for $6500+ pins if not for AcDc/Tron etc..

    -1
    #57 3 years ago
    Quoted from jrivelli:

    What? Almost every barcade that opens around here and is done well has stood tall and does extremely well. Like lines out the door and people waiting to get in...

    My buddy down in the bay area has been managing a few arcade portions of barcades and they just opened their 4th one I think and all are slammed.

    There is always an exception.

    Barcades were the rage in Detroit a decade ago. Most long gone now.

    One opened in the warehouse district in Minneapolis, MN a few years ago. Changed format a couple times and closed within a couple years.

    Anything new opening up can have lines out the door. Usually doesn't last.

    Once the people drinking realize they are subsidizing the games they drift away. Once the alcohol sales drop, they change format.

    I don't wish the barcades anything bad. Just what I've witnessed through the years.

    LTG : )

    #58 3 years ago

    Customer money saved pinball.

    10
    #59 3 years ago

    Not to take anything away from Barry Oursler and Roger Sharpe but they existed when the Pinball industry was much larger, larger than it is even today. They may have had a big hand in stoking the flames but there was already a fairly decent fire already going. When Gary Stern looked at the industry in 2000, all that were left were embers. The demand for routed pinball machines was nearly dead and the world changed very quickly on the industry. He could have closed his doors but he didn't. He is the true hero in the story, but there are others.

    RGP kept the pinball discussion alive. Clay Harrell proved that you didn't have to be a mechanical engineer to keep these games running in your own home. And Gene Cunningham, let's not forget him! He basically proved that it was POSSIBLE to build and sell a machine independent of Stern. He laid the groundwork for JJP, DP, Spooky, American and Heighway. He set up the model where people put down the deposit and he built the games...and he delivered! Very important that the first attempt was successful.

    #60 3 years ago

    It was me, I did it with ease, you're all welcome.

    #61 3 years ago
    Quoted from Rondogg:

    Not to take anything away from Barry Oursler and Roger Sharpe but they existed when the Pinball industry was much larger, larger than it is even today. They may have had a big hand in stoking the flames but there was already a fairly decent fire already going. When Gary Stern looked at the industry in 2000, all that were left were embers. The demand for routed pinball machines was nearly dead and the world changed very quickly on the industry. He could have closed his doors but he didn't. He is the true hero in the story, but there are others.
    RGP kept the pinball discussion alive. Clay Harrell proved that you didn't have to be a mechanical engineer to keep these games running in your own home. And Gene Cunningham, let's not forget him! He basically proved that it was POSSIBLE to build and sell a machine independent of Stern. He laid the groundwork for JJP, DP, Spooky, American and Heighway. He set up the model where people put down the deposit and he built the games...and he delivered! Very important that the first attempt was successful.

    Perhaps there was some psychological aspect to Gene being a forerunner in terms of producing a boutique pinball machine and it worked out (although the story is he lost money on it) but I'm not aware that JJP or the boutique builders directly gained any experience from Gene. Maybe they did and I don't know the story; If not, to give Gene credit rather than credit the really hard work put in by the more recent people that have truly built new games and employed new designs seems a little off base. Plus, I can't say I "know" Gene but I have met him and spoken with him a few times and I probably wouldn't base my business model off of his 'success'. In addition, the mess that was the down under project with MM would have probably just as well demonstrated how much hard work is involved and what a mess it could turn into.

    #62 3 years ago

    Stern's and JJP's investment groups saved pinball. Well, they saved NIB pinball.

    #63 3 years ago

    where is the option I would pick for the present days . that would now be THE Home Buying market .
    Is there really any vendors buying bulk anymore. I think not .
    if you were talking in the 60-70'S the Rodger Sharpe option
    After 1990 I would say the Home market / I can and may be wrong but that is my Guess

    #64 3 years ago
    Quoted from tbanthony:

    Perhaps there was some psychological aspect to Gene being a forerunner in terms of producing a boutique pinball machine and it worked out (although the story is he lost money on it) but I'm not aware that JJP or the boutique builders directly gained any experience from Gene. Maybe they did and I don't know the story; If not, to give Gene credit rather than credit the really hard work put in by the more recent people that have truly built new games and employed new designs seems a little off base. Plus, I can't say I "know" Gene but I have met him and spoken with him a few times and I probably wouldn't base my business model off of his 'success'. In addition, the mess that was the down under project with MM would have probably just as well demonstrated how much hard work is involved and what a mess it could turn into.

    I think we agree:

    "He basically proved that it was POSSIBLE to build and sell a machine independent of Stern" and "laid the groundwork for JJP, DP, Spooky, American and Heighway. He set up the model where people put down the deposit and he built the games...and he delivered! Very important that the first attempt was successful. "

    #65 3 years ago

    And you even did it while you were fumbling the flippers.
    .
    It sure wasn't me. I forgot to leave my games on when I changed the batteries.
    I lost all my high scores to date...didn't save any of them.

    #66 3 years ago

    The players saved pinball.

    #67 3 years ago

    Hank saved pinball.

    hankreadyaimfire (resized).jpg

    #68 3 years ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Hank saved pinball.

    Or did pinball save Hank?

    #69 3 years ago

    F) All of the above.

    #70 3 years ago

    Jack isn't on the ballot? Lame.

    #71 3 years ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    I also have to mention that pinball was alive and thriving in most places when Roger Sharpe did his courtroom shot. Even in the few places it was outlawed as gambling, there were still add a ball games.

    LOVE this. Not taking anything away from Roger Sharpe, but you wouldn't have known that there was a problem with pinball where I was growing up in Metropolitan Detroit in the mid-70s or in many other big cities where there were no bans. It makes for a great story, one that makes me smile just like most other pinball fans, but it's not the Be All End All.

    Nothing is.

    Pinball survived - and will continue to do so - because of PEOPLE, period. If you don't believe me, simply invite someone over who has never seen your pinball machine(s) and is between 35 years old and dead. Chances are that the opportunity to knock a ball around for a little while will make them pretty happy. Not everyone will react that way, but many, many people will. I own 3 pins now. My wife thought I was nuts the first time I bought one. Eventually after it got fixed we had some family and friends over and she was just stunned at how excited people were to play pinball. A big part of the reason I will always stay in this hobby because I absolutely LOVE those moments when folks come over and play my pins. Seeing them happy makes me happy.

    Quoted from dyopp21:

    ...and I'll add one to the list that some may quickly discard, but along with all the other things you listed in the choices, it's what got me to PAPA for the first time-- and that's the documentary "Special When Lit." Sure it has some goofy bits (Pingeek sub story being chief among them- it should've been on the cutting room floor) but it also had some high points in the interviews of designers, former arcade owners, operators, and competitive players etc. But more importantly, it showcased PAPA and competitive pinball for folks like me that didn't even know such a thing existed anymore. So, I'll tip my hat to that documentary, even with its flaws.

    Thanks for saying this. I own a copy of "Special When Lit" and I totally agree. While I love the film, I am waiting for a documentary about pinball to come out where the story of the history of the game is told well (developments in structure/features/elements) and interwoven with insight into the people who make the industry and the hobby what it is WITHOUT pandering to the "these people are geeks, squares and socially awkward" bit. Yes, I go to pinball events and I know that some pinheads are odd or whatever, but I think that the whole concept is way overblown. I run a brewpub for a living and I could say the same thing about SOME of my customers, but they're not the core of my story. Go on YouTube one night and watch many of the shorter docs that are popping up about the resurgence of the game. Some great stuff there!

    I love this thread and the awesome comments that keep coming up!

    #72 3 years ago

    this is the only correct answer and sad it was not in the poll

    #73 3 years ago

    Who saved pinball? Short answer, everyone has contributed in some way.

    After acquiring a couple more machines this past year, I put one of them in my local Video Game Center (that I own half of) and just set it for a quarter per play just to help cover any maintenance or upgrades I put into the machine. At first, it did get some play and I was able to weed out any issues with the machine as those who played loved talking to me about it and sharing their experiences.
    Now dedicated players regularly show up a few times during the week to get a few games in. The most common question I used to be asked was "Have you fixed *insert minor problem* yet?". Now it's "When is the next one coming so we don't have to wait for our turn!".

    And just like that...a little spark that I've had since roaming arcades in the early 90's had been rekindled in a new generation.

    Now my dilemma is to find another fun to play machine that is dependable, simple, and reasonably priced. But looking around is just part of the fun.

    #74 3 years ago

    Pinball never died.....so it never needed "saved"...

    #75 3 years ago

    No Lionman option on the poll.

    #76 3 years ago
    Quoted from SilverBallKid:

    Pinball survived - and will continue to do so - because of PEOPLE, period.

    Well said. Ultimately it is the demand for pinball that saved it. Economics 101. But it may be the supply of pinball machines that keeps pinball around for many years to come.

    Some of us remember when pinball machines were being replaced by those evil upright video monsters. Okay, maybe not so evil, but when your favorite arcade moves out pinball machines and moves in video games, they can seem pretty evil. And then, the home video gaming onslaught took the industry by storm. People found it more convenient and, in some cases, cheaper to play their favorite video games in the comfort of their family room. Arcades began to die and what was left of many of the pinball machines in public died with them.

    So, why has pinball survived and even grown in popularity? One reason is because of the Baby Boomers. They are nostalgic for anything from their youth when life was simple and entertainment was only a quarter away. Home use of pinball machines has grown perhaps for this very reason, but most people can neither afford a pinball machine nor find a way to get one fixed when it broke down. Operators are growing in numbers because they believe that they can make money from the pinball rebirth and the Boomers interest, maybe not a lot of money just yet, but the future of pinball holds promise for those wanting to make a buck. Pinball machines are popping up again in bars and arcades that are now devoted mostly to pins and not video games. It is only a matter of time before more machines make their way into the public. I doubt we'll see them in laundromats, convenience stores, bowling alleys and the like in the numbers that we saw in the distant past, but I do think they will be seen once again in these venues.

    People still like to go out and be entertained, and pinball is cheap entertainment. The question remains what will happen once the Baby Boomers are gone. Will another generation take their place? Will the youngsters of today carry on the tradition and find the silver ball irresistible? Maybe, if enough pinball machines make it out to the public in the next decade. And then in 40 years time perhaps they will cause a resurgence, once again, in the popularity of pinball when they remember their simpler days when entertainment was only a buck away.

    #77 3 years ago
    Quoted from onetaste:

    In my view, if Gary Stern had not kept the lights on at Stern during the 2000's there would no longer be any pinball.

    I think if Gary would have quit pinball someone else would have bought the assets and continued. I know of at least one party that was ready to jump in and there may have been more. Aside from that, I'm pretty sure that if Stern would have quit at some point a new party would have stepped up to fill the void. Who knows what would have happened then.

    As far as the poll/question goes, I think Barry Oursler's Space Shuttle came at one of the most critical moments of the pinball industry. I don't want to take anything away from Roger Sharpe's achievement, which certainly boosted the industry, but at that point in time, the industry wasn't in such a bad shape as it was in the mid-'80s. Apparently, at some point no company made any new games for a period of 9 months. I don't think we've seen that in the post 2000 era. Also keep in mind that once pinball got back on its feet, it was Roger Sharpe again to reintroduce licensing into pinball, leading to some of the best and best-selling games ever (and some of the worst as well, but Roger wasn't involved in those). So it depends on how you look at it.

    #78 3 years ago
    Quoted from unigroove:

    I think if Gary would have quit pinball someone else would have bought the assets and continued.

    They were for sale for several years. No one stepped up to buy Stern.

    LTG : )

    #79 3 years ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    They were for sale for several years. No one stepped up to buy Stern.

    Sounds more and more like pinball was saved by default. Th fault that there were no buyers.

    #80 3 years ago

    If you own and maintain pinball machines then you saved pinball.

    #81 3 years ago

    I would say that without a doubt, the real people that 'saved' pinball are the hobbyists and peopel willing to collect, fix, and share the knowledge to keep them running.

    The current resurgance can all be tied back to those people IMHO.

    Roger Sharpe > sure it is a cool story and all, but pinball was not dead then and was actually doing fine. That happened in April 1976, a year when Bally made over 10 titles... Just sayin.... Pinball seemed to be fine in 1976 despite some archaic laws on the books that need to be overturned.

    IFPA > Sorry, just no. Competitive pinball is fun but go to any show and you will see the demographic is 90% people that dont care and even avoid the competitive aspect of it. Sure it has been part of the resurgance and growing but cant even come close to being a savior.

    Gary Stern > Again, sorry but nope. he is a business man and just making money. If there is a market for pinball then someone will make them. He did not save anything and when pinball manufacturing almost disappeared there was still enough market to keep them in business, that market was because of the people that bought the games and operated them and played them, not because the company made them.

    Pinball Arcade > LOL

    Pinside > I guess this is the closest thing but Pinside is merely a tool to allow the virtual community to gather. The community would be around even without Pinside and even without the internet. I would give the internet more credit than Pinside. The web made it all more accessible and easier to find and share the knowledge.

    If you want a singlar pinball moment that came at teh exact right time, then it is for sure Barry O with Space Shuttle.

    If you want the real reason pinball is alive and well (saved) it is because every single person that makes up the community.

    #82 3 years ago

    Whysnow. You made some excellent points, but pinball in its current resurgence has more to due with virtual pinball like TPA. That is the gateway drug for much of the recent converts to the hobby. Most younger millennials first exposure to pinball was playing in the virtual arena. That being said, it was a combination of everything that helped save pinball. If there was no Space Shuttle, High Speed or Pin Bot and later Funhouse, Addams Family, etc, the industry would have suffered a lot more a lot sooner.

    #83 3 years ago
    Quoted from Frippertron:

    Whysnow. You made some excellent points, but pinball in its current resurgence has more to due with virtual pinball like TPA. That is the gateway drug for much of the recent converts to the hobby. Most younger millennials first exposure to pinball was playing in the virtual arena. That being said, it was a combination of everything that helped save pinball. If there was no Space Shuttle, High Speed or Pin Bot and later Funhouse, Addams Family, etc, the industry would have suffered a lot more a lot sooner.

    I agree that the pinball app/games have helped bring over some new people, but it is far from the savior of pinball. It is aweful physics and I think that quite a few people that play pin arcade actually get put off by real pinball because it does not feel the same.

    #84 3 years ago
    Quoted from Frippertron:

    but pinball in its current resurgence has more to due with virtual pinball like TPA.

    But pinball, especially for collectors, was taking off when Williams closed.

    There wasn't virtual pinball then.

    I do wonder if Williams closing was the trigger that started people grabbing everything in sight and caused the growth ?

    LTG : )

    #85 3 years ago

    There was a time when pinball was EVERYWHERE - not just arcades, but grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, waiting rooms, bars, theaters and restaurants (But seldom in homes, except for the very rich). Everyone played, not just because games were available, but because they were easy to understand. After three balls, it was pretty clear what you needed to do to get a high score or a special. And that took maybe five minutes.

    Conversely, Stern's games are not designed for the uninitiated - home players and competitive organizations keep pushing for deeper rule sets and more challenging gameplay, which just confuses and frustrates non-hobbyists and deters them from coming back.

    In short, I think Stern, PAPA and the IFPA, are in some ways an impediment to the mainstream success and cultural saturation pinball once enjoyed.

    #86 3 years ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    Pinball Arcade > LOL

    Hey now, don't be so quick to shrug off TPA. I'm only one example, but I can tell you if it wasn't for Farsight's Pinball Hall of Fame games I wouldn't be involved in this hobby. It might not have saved pinball, sure, but I think it's safe to say it at least helped bring new people into the hobby.

    #87 3 years ago

    This is completely dependent on the specific period of pinball history from 1930s to modern times along with actions of society of the period. It is different answer every 10-15 years as the cycles perpetuate with generations of new people in the hobby and industry.

    "Saved" is not the accurate word. Pinball has never completely disappeared, it just keeps getting revived over and over again. Only the people change, not the game. That term is just used because it sounded catchy when coined by mass media many years ago.
    It is more akin to the phrase, "Allowed pinball to survive or return to public interest".

    Roger Sharpe as great and humble giant as he is a person, pinball enthusiast, designer, manager, license expert, and supporter did not save pinball. That is a misnomer of representation. Even he can tell you that directly, if a person wishes to ask.

    The correct answers were not listed.

    As a pinball historian, I can state the actual answers in no specific particular order are:

    Players
    Operators
    Manufacturers
    Marketers
    Collectors

    For example, during the 1970s, it was players, even though in some parts of the United States remained "outlawed" (AKA Roger Sharpe "He called the Shot" for the New York City Council meeting in 1976)

    starship-troopers-wyltkm.jpg

    2 months later
    #88 2 years ago

    Without a question, Humping Robot likely saved pinball from going extinct.

    5 months later
    #89 2 years ago

    OK, having read through all the posts again Barry Oursler (for Space Shuttle) gets mentioned more than any other individual on the list, and the community gets mentioned over and over. If I could change the poll I would add Barry Oursler and amend "Pinside" so it reads "Pinside & the community more broadly".

    #90 2 years ago

    Write in...this guy! Affectionately know to me and a few friends only as "Belly Man"

    00-ips02 (resized).jpg

    #91 2 years ago

    Need vote option for Steve young and the pinball resource. Got to have parts to keep the game going.

    #92 2 years ago

    vid1900 saved MY pinball... does that count?

    All jokes aside - the champions on here that document in detail ( high_end_pins is another name that jumps to mind) their repairs and restores have been played key roles in "saving" pinball.

    And others that jump in and help with repair threads on a regular basis!

    My hat's off to the lots of you!

    #93 2 years ago

    Steve Ritchie saved pinball several time.

    just after Atari coming to Williams with Flash (first background sound and flash lamp) and Firepower (first lane change)
    High speed (first system 11) blow out the market)
    Terminator (video mod came in)
    ACDC (perhaps the biggest sale for Stern)

    #94 2 years ago

    the people buying 5k and 8k pins.

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