Talking Pinball with Pinball NYC [Interview]

Posted on: October 22nd, 2012 at 11:33 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

source: Pinball NYC

Discovering a pinball machine is like finding a fiver in your pocket, though not being able to change it into quarters to play said machine can leave something to be desired.  Better save up that coinage because Pinball NYC has done the legwork in scouting out machines all over the city. The list of bars and games is ever expanding and regularly updated, there are leagues for casual enthusiasts and wizards alike, and there are resources for event hosting. Flipper fingers at the ready!

Here’s a bit more from the man behind the mask, Kristopher Medina, on the website, the glorious arcade game, and the answer to the $64,000 question: how to keep the ball out of the drain.

Bowery Boogie: What sparked the idea for Pinball NYC?
Kristopher Medina: While living in Los Angeles I caught the pinball bug. When I returned to NYC, four and half years ago, I started to notice more and more pinball machines in bars throughout the city. Soon pinball became a pursuit, and every person I introduced the game to loved playing. These included people completely new to the game as well as those who had only a passing memory of it. Initially my thought was to simply put together an online database of where to find pinball in NYC. I would soon find out, however, that this had already been done. Nevertheless, I wanted to do something to promote the game, and I felt like the time was ripe. Eventually the idea evolved into the team league that is today, but Pinball New York City also hosts and promotes pinball related events and our website does have a fine pinball machine locator for the city.

BB: How did you initially become hooked on pinball?
KM: There was this great underground bar in LA called Miss T’s Barcade. Barcade was actually this couple’s apartment in Korea Town, and two nights a week they opened their doors to the public to showcase their arcade collection. In addition to the booze, DJ, and video games, they also had a few pinball machines. While I grew up in the hey-day of the video arcade, in my youth I never embraced pinball. Once an old buddy of mine re-introduced the game to me at Barcade, I was hooked. Perhaps I had matured, or maybe it was just the novelty of an old school mechanical game, either way I have been obsessed since.

BB: Tell us a little bit about the leagues you’ve set up through Pinball NYC – can anyone join?
KM: The Pinball New York City league is a co-ed team league that plays in bars throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Teams consists of six to ten players, and each team has a bar that serves as their “home.” Every Monday night every team plays one other team, either at “home” or at their opponent’s bar. Match play consists of two “doubles” rounds and two “singles” rounds. In “doubles” two players from one team play two from the other, and the team with the highest combined score wins match points. “Singles” games are one-on-one and score half as many points. At the end of the match, the team with the most points earns a win in the standings, and the loser a loss. At the end of a ten week regular season the top four teams in each division square off in the playoffs which ultimately lead to league champions.

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source: Robin van Mourik

The league is free to join and open to anyone. Teams must consist of at least 6 people, and no more than 10. Team registration is currently open at our website. Individuals who are interested in joining but cannot put a team together are welcome to come to our pre-season party where last minute recruiting takes place.

BB: Do the leagues play for bragging rights? Brews?
KM: Each division has a championship trophy which is held at the bar of the winning team until another team claims it (much like the Stanley Cup in the NHL). In addition, there are prizes and medals given out to the individual players. These consist of league items as well as donations from our sponsors.

BB: All-time favorite machine?
KM: I think my favorite machine, if I had to choose one, would be Theatre of Magic. The rules are deep, but not complicated, and the shots are fun and rewarding. Moreover, as my cousin once said, “There’s something magical about it.”

BB: Do you have a cool pinball story to share?
KM: One night in the months leading up to the formation of Pinball NYC I introduced a young woman to pinball for the first time. She had no understanding of the game at all, but found the machine alluring enough to try. I put some money in for the two of us to play and let her go first. She was so mesmerized by the lights, the flippers, and the ricocheting silver ball that she couldn’t step away from the machine. In a trance, she played straight through both of our games and through much more of my money before she finally gathered her wits enough to quietly declare, with great understatement, “I like this game.” This may have been the moment when I realized that I had to do something to promote this game.

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source: $imbolism

BB: What’s in the works for Pinball NYC? Any plans for expansion to other cities?
KM: Right now I would like to use Pinball NYC to play a more active role in expanding pinball’s presence in this city. I would love to have more bars with well maintained machines, and I am looking into ways to help make that happen. Currently there is a form on our website that venues interested in having a pinball machine can use to contact me. Pinball appears to be arising from a 20 year slumber, and there is a lot of energy behind the game right now. It would be wonderful to see the number of public pinball machines double in the next year or two.

BB: What’s the best venue to play on LES?
KM: Max Fish is by far the best pinball spot in the Lower East Side. It has had a pinball machine for a long time, but it only recently upgraded vendors, so now it has a great, well maintained machine. Go a little further north to Vazac’s Horseshoe Bar (7B) and you will find a couple of nice machines. However, if you’re gonna play in the East Village, then there is no better spot than Reciprocal Skateboards — 9 well working classics.  Sadly, most of the pinball machines in the East Village and Lower East Side are not well maintained. One of Pinball NYC’s missions is to correct this. A poorly maintained machine is a complete waste of space.

BB: Any strategy advice for new pinheads?
KM: To get the most fun out a game of pinball, it’s good to learn the rules. This may take time, and it’s usually harder than it should be, but the game is not simply about keeping the ball from draining – there are actual shots that reward the player more than others. The easiest way to learn is to follow the lights. If something is lit, then hit the ball there. If it’s flashing, then definitely hit it there. At the bottom of the playfield, just above the flippers, there are usually a set of lights indicating the game’s goals. Reach a goal and you will light one of these lights.

BB: Most importantly, how can we keep the ball out of the drain?
KM: If you have great ball control, and you hit the shots you intend to hit, then you can keep the ball out of the drain for a long time. For those of us with lesser skills, I would say that you should avoid hitting the targets in the middle of the playfield. While these are usually the most alluring shots, they are also the most dangerous as a missed shot is likely to send the ball straight down the middle. Of course, you can always nudge the machine – an important skill for top players.

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source: Andrew Williams

Find your favorite machine by visiting (we’re still waiting for our fave, Jurassic Park, to resurface).  In the meantime, let’s go to the source.

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