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Pinball

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
The Who, Pinball Wizard, from the Rock Opera Tommy

Pinball is a type of Arcade Game 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 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. Arcade Game 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, David Gottlieb's Baffle Ball is considered the 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 The Great Depression. 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 entirely based on luck reached its peak in the middle of the 20th century, when New York banned pinball on claims that they were a form of gambling that led to delinquency. note  Although most establishments skirted the lawsnote  or ignored the bans, it remained on the books for over thirty years; it ended in 1976 when writer Roger Sharpe testified before a committee that pinball was not a game of chance, but required skill and finesse. Sharpe demonstrated this with a courtroom pinball game, capped when he announced that he would launch his next ball through the center lane at the top of the playfield, then proceeded to do so. The committee immediately removed the ban, though Sharpe later admits 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 license of some kind. Although their popularity in arcades have been diminished by the rise of Video Games, pinball continues to live on, whether it's via Pinball Spinoffs of popular video games, digital emulation of Physical Pinball Tables, or original tables made for both commercial establishments and private collectors. Even today, die-hard fans continue to collect tables as a hobby, and a vintage table in excellent condition can cost tens of thousands of dollars.


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

Major pinball companies:


Pac-ManTropeNamers/Video GamesPlants vs. Zombies
Neo GeoArcade GamePhysical Pinball Tables

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