This is a great post, so I’ve taken a little while to think about my answer, so in no particular order:
I really, really, really like playing pinball and used to be quite good at it. (Made 2nd place twice in local competitions and in one national competition. Never won. Dang.) Walking down to the cellar to fire up Surf Champ always puts a little smile on my face and it’s great to forget the worries of the day for a few minutes with the silver ball.
The basics plunge, flip and nudge are explained in seconds, yet it takes years to master. Most people – myself included – never truly master it.
Art and Design
Within tight financial and engineering constraints designers manage to create beautiful little worlds under glass that comprise of largely identical components yet play totally differently, even games from the same era and series. And I love the mostly fantastic artwork.
From the warm and friendly ting-a-ling of EMs to the hair-on-your-arm raising roar of War Machine from a pimped ACDC Luci, I love that pin sound.
I love KISS, but it’s unlikely that I will almost certainly ever sit down with Paul and Gene for a beer. Pinball is a relatively small business, where you can meet and greet your heroes without shelling out a couple of grand for the “meet and greet” package.
I have met or communicated via forums with many really great guys and one or two great gals. 99.99% of all pinheads I have gotten to know or done deals with over the years have been friendly, albeit sometimes a bit shy and reticent, as well as helpful.
Hunting for pins in the wild to play
I used to hunt them down with a view to a purchase, but due to my family situation and “governmental” restrictions I can now only own max three games. A few years ago when I had a much larger collection I met someone who had reached the finals in a national competition, but owned no games. I couldn’t understand it and asked him how he practiced. “Oh, I just look for them in pubs,” he replied. And so for several years, Thursday night is pin-hunting night. It’s hard to find playable pins out in the wild, but thanks to the internet, it’s relatively easy to find the ones that are out there. Within a 30 minute drive I have access to: TWD, GOT, Metallica, X-Men, TAF, RS, Corvette, Baywatch, IM, Transformers, T2, STTNG, POTC, JY, KISS in either bars, cinemas or bowling alleys. If I were to add to this, pins in private collections that we could access, I could add another fifty to that list.
Live Streaming of Tournaments
As I’m no longer able to attend tournaments, this is a massive plus for me. I know how hard it is to make those shots, even under no pressure, and it blows my mind to see the big guns calmly beat the High Score to Date in the final rounds of a major tournament. (I’d be trembling like a leaf) So a big shout out of thanks goes to tournament organizers, technicians and commentators.
So basically as long as my brain is more or less working and can send signals to my fingers I will be staying in this fantastic hobby.