Since we launched Pinball PA, we are asked repeatedly in any press we do about what is better or more popular – pinball machines or arcade games. I’ve done my best to find different ways to say “they are all awesome” in every interview, but that never seems like a real answer, now does it. So let’s try here.
In the end, in my estimation, Pinball is a game of skill, while most arcade games are a game of memory. With Pinball, you can become a better player, and even a world class player, with little more than practice. When you play all the time, as some of our guys at Pinball PA do, you learn the tricks of the trade. You learn exactly how and when to hit the ball to have it generate the most points. You become an expert and unlocking the multiball. You learn exactly how hard you can shake the machine to get just the right roll you need. In short, playing pinball is a skill that can be grown in the same way you can learn to hit a baseball.
With arcade games, you need many of those same traits, although some of that can be alleviated by a strong memory. When you encounter an amazing player of an arcade game, like a Billy Mitchell, you just know that he remembers every last bit about the game he’s playing. To be that good at a digital game requires far more memory than a pinball machine. It’s also less forgiving. The arcade games are programmed to perform functions, and they do as they were written to do. Because of this, memory of these functions is what separates the great players from the average ones.
But which is “better”? In the end, it comes down to what trips your proverbial trigger. If you want to become great at one but want some wiggle room to make mistakes as you go, then Pinball would be the best. If you want something less forgiving but based on your ability to retain memory and use it, then the arcade games would be your favorite.
In the end, I’ll stick with my old standby. They are all awesome!