When I was younger, my dream room was in a sewer, with a TV, lots of video games, pinball machine and a rat that would teach me ninjustu. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized that sewer idea probably wasn’t my brightest, but owning a pinball table still seems like a good idea. And a rat teaching me how to be a ninja, that’s still a good idea too.
It seems pinball machines are making a comeback in local taverns and they owe this to their popularity on smart phones and consoles.
“We’ve seen sales up by 30 per cent in the last year, so there is absolutely a resurgence in interest,” Stern Pinball president Gary Stern, whose company has been manufacturing pinball machines for the past decade, tells the BBC.
Private collectors are also growing in numbers. Andy “The Legend” Netherwood says he is carrying out repairs at least four days a week compared to the one or two jobs he was handling when he started 12 years ago.
Of course if pinball machines are going to flourish again, they need to keep up with the times. Instead of just flashing lights and quirky noises to keep people’s attention, newer machines will integrate LCD screen that can display explosions and other graphical effects. Also, things like online leader boards and being able to post your high scores on Facebook have been added.
“There’s been a huge boom in pinball smartphone and console games over the last few years,” says managing director of new company Heighway Pinball, Andrew Heighway. “Many of the kids that play them have probably never seen a real pinball machine. A whole generation has missed out – but thanks to these video games, there are plenty of kids that have been primed for the real thing.”