Over 400 pinball machines are switched on this weekend for PAPA 17, the World Pinball Championship in Carnegie Pennsylvania just outside of Pittsburgh and I'm not there. 

Every year people from all around the world gather at the PAPA facility to compete to see who is the best pinball player in the world. Reigning champion, and New England native Bowen Kerins of Salem Massachusetts is defending the title which he has won three times. I've gone twice and haven't even come close, but man is it a blast!

I know what you're thinking. "Pinball? Really?" Yeah really. It's been making a huge comeback lately. It had a huge surge in the 90's and now is becoming popular all over again. I've been playing ever since I was old enough to stand on a chair to see the flippers.

What is unique about pinball versus say a video game is that pinball is never the same. There are physics at play here which you can't control easily. To be a champ like Bowen, you must learn the skill of maneuvering a heavy machine to make the ball do what you want it to do. There's so much more to it then just flipping the flippers and hoping you don't lose the ball. Every game has its own set of rules and knowing the rules is the way to score the big points. Those rules can be deep too. I'm not joking when I say I study this stuff. I've spent a year studying the rules of AC/DC and I still haven't quite figured it out.

Don't let the rules get in the way of trying pinball though. There are a few places in Portland you can play. One is at Coast City Comics on Congress Street, but the best place is coming very soon: Arcadia National Bar.


Set to open before the end of August on Preble Street, Arcadia National Bar is owned by a couple of guys from a pinball league I play in so there will be plenty of pinball to have with your local brews. Not just pinball though. Classic video games like Q*Bert, Ms. Pac-Man Donkey Kong and Pole Position will be there along with grilled cheese sandwiches! I think I may live there.

I'll update you when Arcadia opens and then do me a favor. Meet me there after work and let's play Lord of the Rings pinball. I'll teach you how to play and you'll love it. If not I'll give you your quarters back.

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