REACTION: Pinball Does Not Need Virtue Signaling, Hollywood is a Clueless Guide

By Todd Russell Mar3,2024

Just saw this from PGM Member Kevgret. Wanted to show you his comments first along with a link to a pinball-related article I hadn’t read before his comments in Discord. Here is what I saw first:

Was curious by Kevgret’s spirited commentary to read the linked article below. It sounded from his reaction, that it was yet another article targeting a certain group of people — but in pinball, a place that I’ve always seen as an open place for players of all races, creeds, religion, beliefs and ages to play competitively or just for fun against each other.

Anyway, the article, which will be quoted and linked below starts out really good. If you want to read it for yourself, before reading my take, scroll below and click the link, read it and come back here when you’re done, please.

Back? Good.

So, the article: it’s about 20 year old named Emily Cosson that is rising in the ranks of competitive play pinball, beating many of the regular, older players. Her father, that owns dozens of machines got her into the hobby.

This, I think, it’s great seeing both women and younger players getting into pinball. Parents getting their children interested and excited about the hobby.

But then the article descends into a different, and totally unnecessary social battle cry. It highlights Professor Daniel Johnson bearing the title and distinction of “director of QUT’s games research and interaction design.”

This, unfortunately, is where the article stopped being a nice story about parents encouraging younger people to get into pinball and hitting readers over the head with virtue signaling for the game, something no hobby needs.

[Professor Johnson] says there is a desire for more diversity in the niche sport in both age and gender.

“There’s some really interesting stuff going on, where there’s a lot of younger players who are coming into the sport and doing really well.

Arcade game pinball, an old-school craze, given new life as Gen Z dominates world rankings – ABC News

Sigh.

Seriously, I have never said to myself or had any discussion with anybody else in pinball that we need, or “have more desire” for more diversity in both age and gender in pinball. If there are people discussing this, Mr. Johnson, then I’d counter they are the same group of people too busy ruining Hollywood and contaminating other entertainment.

Those shoehorning characters and agendas into stories to fill out quotas and check off lists instead of because these people and conflicts actually fit the work.

You know, where they rewrite almost perfect movies like Terminator, reskinning it, changing the sex of the main character and promoting it as a new movie. This, the trash known as Terminator: Dark Fate.

An absolute travesty story that never needed this horrific retread. Or maybe Charlie’s Angels unnecessarily rebooted, when director Elisabeth Banks decided to cast herself as Bosley, the hoarse sounding male character from the original TV series. Come on, now. I could go on and on with plenty more examples, but won’t sully readers intelligence and patience further.

With all due respect, very young people aren’t the demographic buying pinball machines, nor spending significant amount at arcades, barcades and the like on location. My son is turning 34 this week, he’s buying his first pinball machine. It’s his age and mine that are keeping pinball alive, because we’re out there spending money on the companies making pinball machines and the businesses that put these machines on location.

Generation X (older, too) are celebrating and spending money on it, because we love it, teaching our children — boys and girls, mind you — that it’s a fun hobby. And they, in turn, will teach their children. That’s one organic way diversity in anything happens: generationally.

Not because of preaching from some game expert. Or to fill out some sort of age and sex quota. There must be X and Y people in pinball for it to be diverse?

BS.

The IFPA is already established and welcomes both men and women, as well as all ages, young to old. There is already diversity in the competitive system.

Heck, Stern Pinball just released a competitive tournament this month UPDATED Stern Pinball Insider Connected March Machine Mania Has Arrived – 007 Tourney + Increased Logout Time + Surprise Quests. In this competition players are grouped simply by what state they live in, not by age or sex or any other reason. How much more diverse can this be?

I wish the article wasn’t being passive aggressiveness toward old guys like me. If the truth be known, I feel discriminated against by articles like these (the latter half, not the first part) like this. I’m not middle-aged, no, am in my fifties, but feel more and more like I’m being targeted as a reason there aren’t more “Emily’s” in 2024.

Of course that’s total BS.

I’m promoting the love of pinball. Teaching my son in his 30s how special this hobby is and in return, we’ll both teach the grandchildren more about the excitement of pinball, both at home and on location. He’s spending almost $10,000 USD on a pinball this month. He’s what this Johnson guy is referencing we have too much of in the hobby. We need more of him! Yes, he’s white. Yes, he’s middle-aged.

So what!

Some people may disagree. Whatever, believe what you want. Society needs people to stand up and call out when somebody cries at the town square “need more diversity!” by saying this is an attack on the people who are already here.

It’s targeting instead of celebrating the people who are already in the hobby, enjoying the hobby, and in many cases financing the hobby. We need these people every bit as much as bringing in new people. Again, welcome all races, ages, sexes, disabilities, etc. Discrimination does not have any place in any civil society.

Including discrimination against “middle-aged” (or any age, for that matter) “white guys.”

When “middle-aged white guys” are gone from the hobby, will there be enough “Emilys” to keep pinball financed, thriving and growing? Emily, bless her heart, seems like a nice girl from the article, but will she help bring the next generation into the hobby in the same numbers as others that are already here? I hope she does and will, but don’t have to hope about the people already here. We already know what these people are doing for the hobby. And I’m very thankful and appreciative they are here.

Mr. Johnson? If you’re reading this. Maybe next time you get asked for your opinion, you’ll use words a little more carefully. You’ll ask yourself how the hobby has survived as long as it has (well over 50 years!), what people have made it survive, and appreciate that it’s still here because of these people. Roger Sharpe, look up who he is. Right now. Hey, here’s a link to learn more: Bought, Watched Pinball: The Man Who Saved The Game + 8 Roger Sharpe Designed Pinball Machines and 6 VPIN Recreations

When Roger Sharpe saved pinball in the 1970s, guess what age he was? Hint: he wasn’t Emily’s age.

There you go, Kevgret.

No, I wasn’t excited about the second totally unnecessary half of the article. Maybe I didn’t have as visceral reaction as you and others might have, because not many people in pinball are going to pay much attention to Mr. Johnson’s opinion. His opinion, and others sharing it, have had no impact or influence on my son’s interest in the hobby and buying his first pinball, thankfully.

It’s interesting that you noted as well seeing more women playing pinball on location. When my son and I first played Jaws Pro on location there was a lady behind us, watching intently. She wanted to play, so we let her in when we were done with our game. She handled that new pin rougher than we did, lol!

We need to encourage generational pinball promotion like Emily’s father is doing — like myself and others are doing — not the nonsense being spewed from the likes of Mr. Johnson. Making extreme social examples out of young women, painting an uninformed, irresponsible and unnecessary narrative.

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3 thoughts on “REACTION: Pinball Does Not Need Virtue Signaling, Hollywood is a Clueless Guide”
  1. Todd I tend to turn away from any form of Entertainment that gets overrun with political messages. Support the little companies that provide message free entertainment and let the big corporations die from lack of your financial support.

  2. The ABC article was good….until the last paragraph. I do agree that there needs to be more “Emilys”, the only identifier being she is a younger person. While the middle aged/older generations may be keeping the hobby alive currently, hobbies like arcades/pinball/retro gaming need an influx of younger people exposed to it, whether it be from older relatives, or in a commercial setting. Like anything, when the younger people cease to be interested, things will eventually go away.
    The original article could have put a little more “opinion” in the last part. What are they “shaking up”? How is having an influx of more diversity going to help the hobby?
    I agree with your statement regarding “checking the boxes” for diversity in film/tv. Give me a good original story. Don’t remake something and just swap roles. Stuff like that is a big reason why I focus more on games (more retro) than tv/movies. Today’s media is more about agendas than entertaining.

  3. Well said. You expertly critiqued a great article (first half) ruined in the end by virtue signaling. The last paragraph doesn’t even fit the article and went over like a fart in church. I don’t know the author, but judging the entire first 3/4 of the piece by the last 1/4, I’d use the term sellout to describe them. I am not sure if the agenda pushers are ever gonna learn, but when you start spreading BS as fact in everything you do, and then rub it in everyone’s face, it ends up having the opposite effect of your desired outcome. Just ask Bud Light and Nike how it worked out for them.

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