Politically-themed Reskinned Dirty Harry Virtual Pinball at CPAC Exhibition Hall

By Todd Russell May9,2024

This is the kind of article we’d typically sidestep because we do gaming here, not politics.

However, sometimes topic paths collide in curious ways. Stay the course, we’re not going political here, but it does involve a pinball game with a political theme.

Take, for example, this political controversy piece describing a virtual pinball reskin called, J6: The Insurrectionist (playfield pictured above and below, links below).

The machine’s gameplay mechanics are not just about high scores and flashing lights; they’re a journey through a pivotal moment in recent American history. The inclusion of real audio recordings from the insurrection adds a layer of authenticity and gravity to the experience, making it more than just a game. It’s a conversation starter, a piece of political commentary, and for some, a controversial artifact that blurs the lines between entertainment and political statement. The creators at Freedom Dawg Games have ventured into uncharted territory, marrying the world of gaming with that of political discourse in a way that’s bound to elicit strong reactions from all sides of the political spectrum.

Controversy Flips: The Insurrection-Themed Pinball Machine Making … (bnnbreaking.com)

After reading the article linked above, I thought Freedom Dawg Games had created a real pinball machine and it was available for play on site for exhibition. Turns out it’s the following virtual pinball game that is a reskin of Dirty Harry, see the developer’s comments:

J6 Insurrection Pinball is an interactive multimedia exhibition project, not a commercial product. Table is based on Dirty Harry pinball table by Williams (1995) and mod of the open source VPX table by authors in the Visual Pinball community. For education and entertainment only. Produced by Freedom Dawg Games, a custom game development and services company.

J6 Insurrection Pinball Game | Freedom Dawg Games

Put aside the political angle here in our discussion and explore labeling a vpin a real pin so much that in reporting the story virtual pinball is never mentioned. Am sort of mixed on this being omitted.

Gaming pubs like Kotaku have made the distinction in the body of the story: The January 6 Insurrection Just Got Its Own Pinball Machine (kotaku.com).

People at this event playing the game are much more concerned by what the gameplay is about than the technical nature of the game. In a way, that’s pretty interesting, because I don’t come across many news stories that frame virtual pinball as real pinball.

Reskins? That’s a topic in/of itself. This author is not a big fan of most reskins. It’s a somewhat common practice in both the virtual and real pinball world. Stern reskinned the pin Seawitch as The Beatles Spike 2. They also did a Heavy Metal limited promotional run that was a reskin, and they’ve created other reskins through the years. They aren’t the only pinball company that has.

Reskins in the vpin community are much more commonplace. I don’t know what the numbers are, but there are a high percentage of reskinned games. For those reading that might not know what a reskin is, it’s essentially using the same layout and often even the ROM, but changing the artwork and cosmetics. Some reskinned games include additional and/or custom modes. Something can start out as a reskin and morph into a hybrid reskin-original.

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