Friday, May 11, 2007

Pinball: Chapter 1 - Genesis

A metal ball. A surface to roll it on. Angle the surface down and put some stuff on it to impede the balls downhill progress. Make a way to get the ball to the top and another way to keep it from falling to the bottom. Make the latter challenging. Assign numbers to the impedements and make them bounce the ball unpredictably. Put some glass on the top so the ball doesn't fly out. Keep score, smirk while bending the rules, frown when you get a tilt.

Work with what you have. Early on, just wood and metal. Later, relays and lamps. Later still, PC boards and LEDs. Paint it. Hell, paint everything. Silkscreen images in bold primaries and dayglow, cover bumpers with plastic. Add cleavage. Oh crap, Pac Man. Add more plastic, make ramps. Put in a few displays. Switch from using art that riffs on pop culture to licensing popular franchises.

Watch as the institution you helped create largely disappears. Consolidate, go bankrupt anyway. Resurge and almost die many times. Pull the plug but lie dormant, let the industry fold but never send the bedside mourners away. Realize the fervent love of a few will keep the spirit alive, somehow and somewhere.

A metal ball. A surface to roll it on. Someone crazy enough to fix, supply, rewire, wax, and refinish everything else.

What more do you really need?

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