Pinball’s Struggle

2000 Words8 Pages
If someone told you pinball was cool again you may disagree, or wonder when it ever was. Still, it can’t be denied pinball’s popularity is on the rise again. Sales of pinball games on computers and video game systems are up. A prime example is that the hottest new gadget, Apple’s iPad, has a surprise top-selling game called Pinball HD. Its gorgeous visuals and fast paced play have seduced the new tech-savvy generation (Saltzman n.p.). Generally, pinball’s popularity has always come in waves and its demise has been foreshadowed many times. Yet, once again it refused to vanish. However, to be part of its most recent resurgence pinball had to be innovative and resilient for well over a century.

Pre 1900 pinball was nothing more than a box with an inclined board full of nails called a Bagatelle. Some had legs while others lay upon a table. A small wooden cue stick would knock a ball onto the playfield where there were valued holes drilled into the wood so the ball could drop in and tally a score (Rossignoli 61). Seen mainly at fairs and amusement parks its lack of excitement was the first and most obvious hurdle. With curiosity being its main attraction there was little to keep players coming back.

Pinball’s bland format did add new features during the 1930’s like bells, bumpers, and buzzers. But, by adding payouts like in slot machines, gambling provided the spark it really needed. Soon, many enterprising pubs and clubs incorporated pinball into their business plan. Pinball was now electric too and inserting a coin would give you a number of balls. Then, pulling the spring-loaded plunger would launch each ball onto the play field. As the ball ricocheted off pins and bumpers one hoped it would eventually drop down a high value ho...

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