Do you learn anything from playing pinball?
Patience and a sense of humor. Why is it that the first drop target you hit was the last target you needed on your previous ball? I believe it’s my Higher Power having fun with me. Since I’m more of a tech than a player, the question can be applied to under the playfield or behind the backglass. Trying to troubleshoot a problem, sometimes it can be easy, hard or quite troublesome. The satisfaction I experience when I finally figured it out is wonderful! The really tough ones, I believe, is my Higher Power trying to teach me how to become a better tech. Then, when I discover the bug, whatever it might be, just laughing at me, I smile with gratitude as I fix it, knowing that I didn’t fix it by myself.
Do you remember your first pinball machine you played and what do you remember about it?
As a kid, at a bowling alley or neighborhood deli, it was either Cow Poke or Buckaroo. I didn’t have enough dimes to play enough to figure It out. It wasn’t until my Junior year in college when a Gottlieb Sheriff grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and forced quarters out of my pocket. Then it would be casual relationships with other PinGames until Captain Fantastic. I pumped more quarters into the Captain than any other game.
What was the best era for Pinball gaming in your opinion?
I believe it was in the late ’70s. I know for myself, I pumped more quarters into PinGames than any other time of my life. As a player, I really appreciate the creativity and depth of rules of games in the ’90s. Lately, I really enjoy the new stuff made by Stern. I think Stern’s next platform is going to be awesome!
Which company makes/made the best pinball machines and why?
That’s like asking who makes better cars? Ford, Chevy or Mopar? It all depends upon who you ask. What year, make or model? You’ll find brilliance, greatness, and garbage.
Are you fan of the new digital pinball machines and what makes them better or worse than the standard machines?
I like all the bells and whistles! In most cases, more is better. Modern pins create an awesome multi-sensory experience. At first, I didn’t care for LEDs. They seem to have gotten so much better! I love the eye candy LEDs create. Then the audio package on the new stuff is incredible!
In your opinion, are there enough or too little Pinball Expos and conferences held each year?
The original Pinball Expo in October is the one show I like to make. Although, it sure isn’t like it used to be with big displays by the various manufacturers and vendors. In answer to your question: Just like collecting, I think more is better. Regional shows are great for those who don’t care to travel long distances.
What’s your opinion of the Console Pinball games (Xbox, PlayStation) that recreate the original machines onto the TV screen?
I like the idea that it exposes a generation to the concept that playing pinball is fun. Also, you can play on dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of different pins you wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to play. However, it’s kind of like watching pornography: it might give you some satisfaction, but, it isn’t the real thing!
Did you agree on the pinball ban in New York City on the 1970s? What is your opinion on this topic?
I’m all in favor of protecting our youth, but it shouldn’t be legislated. In answer to your question: That sure was pretty asinine! Way to go Roger Sharpe.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of Pinball? How do you compare them to older, classic machines?
I like the analogy to cars: there are great vintage classics, average and “what were they thinking?” same is true for the new stuff, too.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a Video Game Trading card?
Not specifically, but, as a kid, baseball cards were popular. The fantasy of my own card did cross my mind a few times.
When did you first meet Walter day and where was it at?
I remember seeing him at the Pinball Expo banquet. A few years ago, I really got to meet him when we rode together in the hotel elevator.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Passionate. The man loves what he does. Then he’s turned his passion into a mission.
What is your favorite pinball machine past and present and why?
Sheriff and Target Alpha because of all those wonderful drop targets! The Captain because of its playability.
Tommy because of the music and all the modes. Only a few times in my life have I completed all 13 in one 3-ball game.
What would your design and theme of the perfect pinball machine be and why?
I’ll leave that to those who have a passion for designing games. I know, how about a Rocky Horror Picture Show pin?
If you could only own one pinball machine, what would it be and why?
TOMMY. Same reason, music and the challenge.
What does it take to be a Pinball Journalist?
Passion. Ever hear of a Sports Reporter not passionate about sports.
Are pinball machines aimed mainly at children, adolescents, or adults?
Pinball can appeal to anybody at any age if they are open to the idea that “Pinball Is Fun!” For years, my mother refused to play. When she finally came around, she really enjoyed it. Also, a lot depends upon the game and the license. I can see a segment of youths enjoying playing Shrek compared to another group enjoying Family Guy. (Or the really twisted enjoying one with the others audio turned on.)
Do you prefer playing pinball alone or against someone and why?
I’m much more of a tech than a player. I enjoy it both ways.
Where do you see the pinball world in the next 20 years?
It’s going to be awesome! I have no idea. Surprise me! Playfield holograms interacting with the ball? (Oh, wait, Pinball 2000 format was almost there but the technology wasn’t). Interesting you say 20 years. 20 years of no display. Then back lit illuminated numbers. 20 years of turning mechanical numbers followed by Nixie numeric displays then 20 years of dot matrix displays. I have no idea what it will be like after 20 years of full color monitor displays. Whatever it’s going to be, it’s going to be awesome!
This is one of an ongoing series of articles based on the Walter Day Collection of e-sports/video gaming trading cards – check out more information at thewalterdaycollection.com.