In the past three decades, gaming has moved from the arcade to the TV console, with ever more sophisticated technology. But recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in the retro jewel of the arcade: pinball.
From 500 members in 2005, the ranks of the International Flipper Pinball Association have swollen to more than 20,000. The association organizes tournaments around the world and records rankings of competitive players.
Tomorrow, St. Louis will host the top 16 pinball players in Missouri for the state championship. The winner will go to the national championship in Denver this May.
According to competitor and tournament organizer Brian Bannon of St. Charles County, St. Louisan John Miller will be the man to beat. Miller placed third in the world in 2010.
The tournament will be played at the Silver Ballroom arcade in St. Louis, which has 17 different games, some built in the '90s, some as recently as 2012. Because players compete in pairs by playing the same game, there’s a lot of strategy behind which game they select to play.
“Most of the people pick the games they’re most comfortable playing,” Bannon said. “If someone plays very well on one game, you may try to avoid that game later.”
“Your other option besides choosing the game is choosing order,” Miller said. “If you choose second, then you get the opportunity to go last, meaning the other player has already played and you can adjust your strategy accordingly.”
While the championship tournament is open only to qualifying players, the Silver Ballroom is also hosting a charity competition Saturday open to all. Proceeds go to Kids Fight Cancer.
Places to Play Pinball in St. Louis
“There’s right now three major locations, CP Pinball, the Silver Ballroom and the Orbit Pinball Lounge. But there’s also about 190 or so machines scattered throughout the city,” Bannon said.
International Flipper Pinball Association's Missouri State Championships
Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014
Closed professional tournament begins at 2 p.m.
Charity Tournament to benefit Kids Fight Cancer; open to all; $5 entry fee
The Silver Ballroom, 4701 Morganford Rd., St Louis
Call 314-832-9223 for the time of the charity tournament.
Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer, hosted by Steve Potter and funded in part by the the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.