Monday, 29 December 2014

Festive Pinball Gathering 2014

Festive Pinball Gathering Tournament
Sunday 7th December 2014
At Special When Lit, Salisbury

The gathering lasted the whole weekend with the Festive Classics competition on the Saturday and The Festive Pinball Gathering Tournament on the Sunday - due to running the I Am Making Art workshop on the Saturday I could only attend the Sunday.

Sunday was sold out so I put my name down as a reserve, thinking I'd at least get along to play some of the games and meet some players.

Checking the website I was happy to see my name had moved up so I was in the league! Eeek! Early start for a Sunday morning and a nice 90 minute train trip to Salisbury, leaving enough time to grab a quick breakfast before heading down to find Special When Lit where the league was taking place.

Special When Lit is a brilliant little place with loads of pinball machines hidden out of the way in an industrial estate - only 5 minutes from the train station. Location here.

Special When Lit is open to the public every Friday evening, and they have around fifteen pinball machines at any one time. After paying the entrance fee, all machines are free to play. As well as this they host the Special When Lit League which was also played on the Saturday of the Festive Gathering. This place is great for improving skills on a good selection of different machines and players.

Arriving it was already busy with around 20 people there. Everyone is friendly and welcomed me to join in on some practice games. I was surprised to see all the machines picked to play in the tournament were switched off - players were not allowed to practice before hand, seems this rule is fairly common - to make it fairer meaning no one can practice and learn the machines and therefore have an advantage over other players. Personally for me this made the day quite difficult - being a beginner I need all the practice I can get and with most of the machines being new to me - quite hard when it came to qualifying time... That's my excuse for being rubbish!

My main gripe with this setup is that the players who are really good actually do benefit from this. Now I'm not going there to try to win I just want to play and have fun, so my argument is a bit weak. But the players that are good - are going to be good/brilliant/amazing and the inexperienced players are going to be just that - a bit of practice time would have loosened everything up. Also the chances are the players that are good have played these machines before - and most likely these exact machines. Anyway it's a game! It made a pretty serious beginning to what I guess was a pretty serious day.

I took a while to pluck up the courage to play my first of six qualifying games - sticking to the practice machines for a while. I do find it quite hard to get into the right frame of mind of concentration and looking back, all the games I played after the tournament were better. Maybe the pressure!!?

My first game was Terminator 2. I got what turned out to be a pretty poor score of 7 million - so another player Mike Addis, who also came down from Bristol, told me anyway - on his go he got 57 million. Wow! Not a good start for me - great start for Mike.

Next for me more practice, followed by Black Night with a score of around 120,000. Kev, who I had previously met in Newport and via Pinball Info, was guiding me through the day a bit and playing quite a few practice games with me - he said I bet his score on Black Knight, but I think he was just being nice!

Attack From Mars scoring 90,00,000, White Water 32,000,00, Genesis (think I did OK here - but forgot to take a note), Twilight Zone 24,000,000. All-in-all low scores.

It was interesting to see the players crowd around the score screen to see their scores. The score system itself was great - you can see the stats overall and per machine too. What most people were doing was a bit of tactics, checking scores by machines to see what their next choice of machine would be to play and the scores they had to beat. I wasn't this clever only sticking to machines I wanted to play!

The games I played on some of the older machines I seemed to do (slightly) better - if I had that practice time I may have learned that and could have played that tactic throughout.

I was clearly not in it to win it but I did pretty poor coming in 43rd overall - missing out on a qualifying place by miles!
After the qualifiers the knockouts went on freeing up some of the machines meaning I could just play for a bit. In hindsight I probably could have just gone to one of their weekly meets to do this but it was worthwhile and a good experience overall to see how a league works.


As I left to catch my train back to Bristol the final game was still in play - it was quite tense and the final scoring was very close. Andy Foster was first place followed by Martin Ayub, Matt Vince and Ad Jonker. Well done to all who played!

What's this all about?
This post is from my journal on MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking.
I am currently proposing a project based around arcade games, specifically Pinball (see the assignment brief).
Part of my research and understanding is to play see the seperate post about the machines I have played recently

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