->''Ever since I was a young boy, I've played the silver ball''\\
''From Soho down to Brighton, I must have played them all''\\
''But I ain't seen nothing like him in any amusement hall''\\
''That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball''
-->-- '''Music/TheWho''', ''Pinball Wizard'', from the RockOpera ''Music/{{Tommy}}''

Pinball is a type of ArcadeGame where players score points by manipulating one or more steel balls on a playfield inside a glass-covered cabinet. Points are scored by striking certain targets and completing various objectives, and a player's turn ends when the ball drains off the bottom of the playfield. Skilled players can extend their playtime by keeping the ball in play as long as possible and earning extra balls; bumping, nudging, and slapping the table to affect the ball's behavior are legitimate gameplay techniques, but excessive force will invoke a TILT and cause the player to lose the current ball. Free games, called "Specials", can be earned either by very skilled playing or by random award at the end of a game.

Though the game is believed to be based on ground billiards games, the original [[UrExample pre-pinball game]] is generally accepted to be ''bagatelle''; invented in France in the 17th century, it was an indoor game where players would shoot balls with a stick from one end into score holes. ArcadeGame vendors in the 19th and 20th centuries added pins, spring launchers, scoring troughs, and flashing lights to these "marble games".

While it was not the first game of its type, [[Creator/{{Gottlieb}} David Gottlieb's]] ''Pinball/BaffleBall'' is considered the [[TropeMaker first commercially-successful "pin game".]] It was affordable for most drugstore and tavern owners to purchase, and quickly recouped its costs with people seeking cheap entertainment during TheGreatDepression. [[FollowTheLeader Other imitators quickly followed,]] with the term "pin ball" used to describe them after the release of Mill's 1932 ''Official'' game. Attempts by manufacturers to differentiate their games caused rapid evolution in the field, leading to elements like electric bumpers and flippers, which increased the amount of chance and level of player control to the game.

The notion that pinball was [[LuckBasedMission entirely based on luck]] reached its peak in the middle of the 20th century, when New York banned pinball on claims that they [[NewMediaAreEvil were a form of gambling that led to delinquency.]] [[note]]There was some truth to this; unsavory places offered rewards or cash prizes for high scores, and the {{Mafia}} ran some pinball arcades, just as they did other businesses.[[/note]] Although most establishments skirted the laws[[note]]It was legal to own pinball machines for personal use[[/note]] or ignored the bans, it remained on the books for over thirty years; it ended in 1976 when writer Creator/RogerSharpe testified before a committee that pinball was not a game of chance, but required skill and finesse. [[SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome Sharpe demonstrated this with a courtroom pinball game,]] capped when [[CallingYourShots he announced that he would launch his next ball through the center lane at the top of the playfield,]] then [[ImprobableAimingSkills proceeded to do so.]] The committee immediately removed the ban, though Sharpe later admits [[AccidentalHero his courtroom success was by sheer luck]].

Thousands of pinball tables have been created in the lifetime of the genre. Most tables have a theme, often with a [[LicensedPinballTables license of some kind]]. Although their popularity in arcades have been diminished by the rise of VideoGames, pinball continues to live on, whether it's via [[PinballSpinoff Pinball Spinoffs]] of popular video games, digital emulation of PhysicalPinballTables, or original tables made for both commercial establishments and private collectors. Even today, fans continue to collect tables as a hobby, and a vintage table in excellent condition can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Truly devoted players have created their own games, either by retheming an existing pin or by building original tables from scratch.

!!This wiki offers the following pinball-related pages and indexes:

* PhysicalPinballTables
* DigitalPinballTables
* LicensedPinballTables
* PinballCreators
* PinballTropes
* TropesInPinballGames

!!!Major pinball companies:
* Creator/{{Atari}}
* {{Creator/Capcom}}
* [[Creator/{{Gottlieb}} Gottlieb, Premier, and Mylstar]]
* Creator/HeighwayPinball
* Creator/JerseyJackPinball
* [[Creator/MidwayGames Bally and Bally/Midway]]
* [[Creator/{{Stern}} Stern Electronics]] and their successor companies:
** [[Creator/DataEast Data East Pinball]]
** [[{{Creator/Sega}} Sega Pinball]]
** Stern Pinball
* Creator/WilliamsElectronics
* Creator/{{Zaccaria}}