The 10 commandments of pinball etiquette

24990748I grew up playing golf as a kid, a game in which players need to learn its rules of etiquette as much as they need to learn how to swing a club properly. It’s a fascinating game because unlike other sports that have referees or officials to enforce the rules, players are expected to rely on their own integrity to show consideration for other players and to abide by the rules.

Pinball, I would argue, is very similar to golf:  you can play by yourself or with a group (up to four people, a “foursome”).  There’s no referees or officials monitoring your every move, but they can be called in on rare occasions to help make a ruling.  And it’s a game of individuals, rather than a team sport.

Yet unlike golf, etiquette for pinball seems to be a nebulous notion at best (enjoy the alliteration). Many experienced players seem to abide by a set of unwritten etiquette, but they are hardly spoken of, and certainly not taught to new players the way etiquette in golf is.

Hence, this blog post. Let’s strive to define some basic rules of etiquette for pinball play. I will do my best to outline some rules of etiquette I’ve picked up by simply playing for a number of years.

  1. Finish your game. If you’re out in a public location or playing someone else’s collection, finish the game you started–don’t start a game then simply walk away from it. It’s rude because it’s not obvious if you are done and can be quite annoying because of the noise the machine will make unnecessarily while in game.
  2. GTFO. Don’t stand within another player’s line of sight while they are playing. This can be very distracting to the player as they are trying to focus on the game.
  3. Back off. Also, don’t stand too close to a player, give that person their space. Pinball is a physical game, and many players tend to get very animated, such as kicking their legs. Plus, no one likes a creeper, so don’t hover.
  4. Play BetterNo touching! Don’t touch, shove, or nudge a player that’s currently playing.
  5. No talking! If you’re playing in a tournament setting, don’t talk to the player that is currently playing. Wait until they have finished their turn, and respect the fact that it’s competition so they may not be feeling terribly chatty under those circumstances.
  6. Be kind to the machines. Don’t slam tilt, perform bang-backs, or death saves on machines you don’t own. Don’t take your frustrations out on a machine by hitting it, kicking, etc. It’s one thing to slap and move a machine if you’re trying to save a ball–it’s another to do so out of rage. We all know the difference.
  7. No crop dusting. Yes, flatulence is a natural bodily function but it’s not something you need to share with everyone else. Take it outside.
  8. Silence is golden. Be quiet while another player is playing. It’s fine to talk to other people near you, but the player that is currently up shouldn’t be able to hear that conversation, as it can be distracting.
  9. Don’t be a machine hog. In a non-tournament setting, invite other players to join on your game if they are waiting to play. Pinball supports up to four players (and on a few machine six), so it’s not cool to play solo when you have others interested. Plus, it’s more fun with more people. Also: don’t fire up a four player game all for yourself at a pinball show. Everyone else will think you’re lame.
  10. Mind your personal hygiene. For the love of God, take a shower.

Disagree? Did I miss something? Leave a comment and add your pinball etiquette rules below.


4 thoughts on “The 10 commandments of pinball etiquette

  1. keith brown (@triadwatch)

    In a qualifying round if machines are set for a replay and you hit a replay either have the person next in line pay you or be nice and let the next player have a free game and get back in line to play again but you do not get to play the replay.


  2. Pingback: Silverball Newsy News | Fun With Bonus

  3. Aron Boag

    Several (not just 5 and 8) can be combined. How many different ways can you say “Have an awareness of your physical proximity?” Numbers 2, 3, and 4 (and to a degree, 10) all offer the same ideas. There are other etiquette rules that should have been included:

    11. Share information about rules and/or strategy, especially if asked. Even if you’re competing against someone else, they still have to actually make the shots to achieve the goals, so playing hush-hush with such things is just being an idiot.

    12. Addendum to #10: they make these things called “toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, breath mints, and gum” now. Use them liberally, because trust us, your breath isn’t that great, and no one wants to smell it. Freshen it up, boys and girls.

    13. Don’t be an anal-retentive twitlick regarding judgment calls in a tournament of any kind. Not every single thing requires the judges to be notified. Yes, sometimes, it’s necessary to get a judgment, or if there’s a machine malfunction or ball stuck that can’t be easily shaken loose or retrieved, but don’t go overboard.

    14. Give away free games liberally. If it’s just you, and no one else is around, go ahead and keep playing your won credits, but if *anyone* else is around, even just a little kid who’s showing interest, give up the machine, and give up the credits you’ve won. LET THEM HAVE THEM. It’s a nice way to brighten someone else’s day, you might help a little kid get into pinball, and let’s face it: you’re just going to win more games anyway. Consider it part of the challenge.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s