Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Daniel Janson who is displayed on card number 4161, from the Superstars of 2022 Collection. Daniel has been into pinball since I was 12-13 years old. In 2003, he purchased his first pinball machine (The Shadow). This was the starting point of collecting and restoring pinball machines, something Daniel had done ever since. He founded an online pinball spare parts shop in 2012, Free Play, mainly to help pinball restorers finding parts in the Nordics. Daniel was one of the founders of Pinball Brothers with a mission to save the Alien project, which they eventually did. Since January 2022 he has been appointed CEO for the company.
Daniel’s trading card and award will be presented to him personally at the Pinball Expo on Saturday, October 20th at 12:00 PM in Schaumburg, IL. Come out and see Danial and 20 other trading card awards handed out.
What was the best era for pinball gaming in your opinion?
This is a tough one. I experienced the 80’s first-hand and fell in love with game like Black Knight, Gorgar, Flight 2000… but the games from the 90’s are obviously great too. Then I realize the games being made today are really awesome! They are obviously based on the older ones, but that is life in general, isn’t it? Evolution. It might sound odd, but I honestly think the best games are made now, even though they never would have been made without the older ones. So, the deepest respect to the past while we enjoy the present.
What does it take to be a CEO of a company and what advice can you give others interested?
Well, it is a lot of fun being a CEO of a pinball company, but it is also a huge amount of work. What had been challenging under normal circumstances have in the last couple of years been a lot worse, due to pandemic and war. My general advice for anyone would be to go for what your heart tells you. The most important thing is to be passioned about what you. If you are, the chance of success improves dramatically. But unfortunately, there are no short-cuts. You must be prepared to work hard and refuse to give up when things look bad. Better times will come. Eventually.
In your opinion, are there enough or too little pinball expos and conferences held each year?
As I am from Europe, I would definitely say too few! For US I can’t really say, but you never can get enough of something as fun as pinball shows, can you?
What’s your opinion of the Console Pinball games (Xbox, PlayStation) that recreate the original machines onto the TV screen?
Being also a video games guy, I think the idea is great. However, as most pinball people probably will answer, there is nothing like the real thing. I think it is good for spreading the word of pinball though as it seems to get a bit forgotten when games are not put on location as often as they used to.
Did you agree on the pinball ban in New York City on the 1970s? What is your opinion on this topic?
Since I am born in 1971 it is hard for me to have an opinion from the event itself. But looking back it obviously is a bit weird how this even came to be. I can somewhat understand the developments, as this seems to follow the same pattern when something “new” attracts young people. But in hindsight it is just a ridiculous outcome, putting a ban on a completely non harmful phenomenon. In Sweden we suffered from this a bit later. A restricting law was put in place in 1982, a law that still applies today, 40 years later! Everybody, from lawmakers and social workers to common people, seems to be in 100% agreement the law is completely outdated and should have been changed ages ago. The law was supposed to change in 2020 (June), but then the pandemic happened, and it was postponed.
Do you remember your first pinball machine you played and what do you remember about it?
It must have been Black Knight in the early 80’s. I was completely spellbound. It was just crazy fascinating to play the ball under glass, with all those lights and sounds. Truly a life-changing experience.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of Pinball? How do you compare them to older, classic machines?
I honestly believe the new machines being made now are amazing. But to me you can’t really compare. The old classic games, like Bally, Stern and Williams games from the late 70’s early 80’s is without question stunning pieces of art and fun. For the time when they were designed and built, I think they were more technically outstanding than today’s games are for the time in which they are made. If that makes any sense. But I still believe the games made today are truly awesome as pinball machines. More action, more rules, more video content compared to older games. This said, I have a fairly big collection of games ranging from the 70’s up until now. I really love the old games too so having me choose between them is almost impossible.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Legend. I am obviously most into the things he did for video games, and that contribution alone is astounding to say the least.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
Definitely not. It is almost surreal to be honest. And completely unexpected!
What is your favorite pinball machine past and present and why?
For the past it has to be Black Knight. Great theme. Innovative and fun to play. Brilliant!
Of the modern games I would currently pick Deadpool. Great implementation of a cool theme with a great ruleset.
Are you fan of the new digital pinball machines and what makes them better or worse than the standard machines?
I think they are a compliment to ordinary pinball machines, nothing more. They will never replace the physical feeling of playing a real game (at least not in the next decade), but that does not mean I despise them – they are just something completely different to physical pinball machines in my opinion.
If you could only own one pinball machine, what would it be and why?
Lord of the Rings. Up to the point where I purchased LOTR I only owned 1 or 2 games at the same time. But with this game I realized I needed more because I simply couldn’t sell it.
Are pinball machines aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
Pinball should be for everybody. That said I realize that some themes might not be suitable for children, but pinball should be for everybody in general, I think.
Do you prefer playing pinball alone or against someone and why?
Against somebody. Whether it be socially or for competing. It is just more fun than playing alone.
Do you learn anything from playing pinball?
I think you can learn about yourself and how to control your emotions. Playing competitions for instance, you learn about getting nervous and how bad that is for your game play. So you need to develop some mental strength to succeed. Also, how to focus. Shutting all distractions out. In these days of continuous distractions from cell phones etc. it is a good thing to try being laser focused at times.
Are pinball machines good for relieving stress?
Definitely! Playing pinball is one of the best ways to forget about other things, like work stuff, and getting totally absorbed about the game for some moments. Everybody should try it!
What would your design and theme of the perfect pinball machine be and why?
To be honest Alien is one of the dream themes for me and it is also the biggest reason why I now find myself in pinball manufacturing at all. For future titles… I would love to see a pinball machine based on the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I think it would be a great theme with loads of fun.
Where do you see the pinball world in the next 10 years?
I think pinball will continue to thrive for the next decade. And also, to evolve. I don’t expect pinball to go digital by any means, but we will definitely see more of connected games and different kinds of digital add-ons for the games. It is just inevitable to me. But I don’t think this is a bad thing as long as the core of the game stays physical. It will hopefully just mean that more people discover pinball.