Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Joe Kaminkow who is displayed on card number 273, from the Superstars of 2012 Collection. He is also featured on trading card number 793. Joe has had an amazing career in the pinball industry. He has worked with such companies as Data East, Sega and Stern pinball. Some of the most popular games have been worked on by Joe. Among some of the memorable games are Apollo 13, Jurassic Park, Batman, and The Simpsons. Joe has been inducted into the Pinball Hall Fame among being CIO of Aristocrat gaming after a career at IGT as SR. VP of Design Joe is also a member of the Gaming Hall of Fame and the first Inductee into the Slot Machine Hall of Fame.
What was the best era for pinball gaming in your opinion?
I think we are all partial to an era that reflects our personal likes – My Era is from Space Shuttle through South Park – Both games I had a hand in and I’ll extend a PS to Batman 66 and the Beatles. It was a time of innovation Stereo, Solid state flippers, auto ball plungers and Dot Matrix displays – All Pioneered by our company.
What’s your opinion of the Console Pinball games (Xbox, PlayStation) that recreate the original machines onto the TV screen?
They are fun – I like the I pad version on long flights – some are very well done – I get a kick out of playing Phantom of the Opera and other games I designed.
Did you agree on the pinball ban in New York City on the 1970s? What is your opinion on this topic?
It was, well just poorly informed masses of people that could not tell a pinball from a bingo and it took a skilled player like Roger Sharpe to prove it was a game of skill.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
Start with I’m smiling, a trading card for video, pinball and slot machines, total nerd fest, never ever considered it!
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I met and knew of Walter back at the beginning of the video game Boom when my father was a VP at Bally.
Do you remember your first pinball machine you played and what do you remember about it?
I more recall the first pinball I enjoyed and our family owned a Bally Million BC pinball with multi-ball, I really enjoyed it – the first game that really hooked me was 6-Million-dollar man, Xenon and Firepower one of my all-time favorites.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of gaming? How do you compare them to older, classic times?
Today’s game may be a little complex on the rules – I need a little more keep it simple stupid – Like laser war light locks, lock balls, release balls shoot jackpots. Today’s game work very well from Stern and are very reliable.
What was your favorite pinball or video game you can designed and why?
Hard Question as so many of the have different meaning in different moments in time. Space Shuttle had a ramp and saved Williams from going out of business, Lochness Monster a stepping Stone, Laser War, the first, Check Point first Dot Matrix, Jurassic Park loved the T-rex, Simpsons Really cemented out place on the map – SouthPark – so much Fun – Batman 66 best theme ever!
What is your favorite pinball machine past and present and why?
Favorite all time game was South Park, Batman 66, Space Jam, Beatles – they were all so much fun to play – great sound and Speech and fantastic shooting games.
What would your design and theme of the perfect pinball machine be and why?
Today – I would create Harry Potter – I’m finishing a Match 3 Potter game at Zynga – stay tuned to see the future Hog Warts could be in your future. For now, I will define perfect as Star Ship troopers – it was an amazing high energy game and Apollo 13 had the best multi ball ever – Twister was really great as well!
Are you fan of the new digital pinball machines and what makes them better or worse than the standard machines?
I’m a fan of ant style of pinball, one thing leads to another and exposure eventually drives players to real physical pinball. I love anything pinball.
What does it take to be a game developer?
Unrelenting energy and the understanding of many disciplines to make a commercially successful game – but must of all you have to answer the question – what’s fun about that know the answer.
Do you prefer playing pinball alone or against someone and why?
As the old Gottlieb games say – it’s fun to compete.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
All the time – good etiquette – just that is a game is well constructed and tightly put together.
Are pinball machines good for relieving stress?
Think it depends on the level of competition – but for me it’s fun to kibitz around for a while and play a game or two before the end of most evenings.
If you could only own one pinball or arcade machine, what would it be and why?
Southpark – I just have more fun playing that game than any other pinball – it’s really funny – as to Arcade dual Daytona was the best driving game of all time and my favorite Video game was Atari x & O football and Defender – those were my games to play.
Where do you see the pinball and gaming world in the next 20 years?
Highly connected to networks – 100 ball multi-ball – glass over the playfield that is a transparent LCD screen to have not interactivity with playfield effects, better yet, the projector like Stranger things – now that’s amazing!
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.
Todd Friedman is heavily involved in the video game community. He is currently writing for Old School Gamer Magazine, Retro Gaming Times and The Walter Day Collection. He has Co-Promoted the Video Game Summit in Illinois for the past 13 Years. Todd's first book, Walter Day's Gaming Superstars, Volume 1, was released in February of 2020. Volume 2 of the Gaming Superstars was published on December 24th, 2021. Todd is also on the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Nomination Committee for the International Video Game Hall of Fame.