One man stood up to one machine Wednesday night. That man was Barry Beck, and that machine was a “Lord of the Rings” pinball machine.
When asked if pinball was considered his passion, he said no. But then he added, “It’s readily becoming a passion.”
Beck began playing pinball at Pinball Jones, a pinball arcade located in Old Town Fort Collins, a year ago when it first opened.
He then joined the league, which is where he was Wednesday night, at the beginning of the league for this season.
The running leagues last from eight to ten weeks, which began when Kim Jones opened the shop a year ago. This league is rotating locations for the first time.
Jones works with Otterbox, who has a pinball machine at each location in Fort Collins, as well as other businesses with machines including Chippers Lanes, Tap n’ Handle and The Lyric.
Chippers Lanes and Tap n’ Handle are the locations being rotated during the league this season.
When it comes to the league, Beck enjoys the “old fashioned interaction and not just staring at a TV screen.” His favorite game is Attack From Mars, which was the mini tournament game at the league Wednesday night.
“It’s nice to meet other people and learn about games. It’s a fun environment for friendship,” Beck said.
Jones wanted to model the league after Lyons Classic Pinball Mile High Pinball League, which is going into its 15th season as a league. The Lyons pinball league has over 30 members while PBJ has a more modest number at 11 to 15 players.
Jones, who regards herself as an average to above-average pinball player says that playing with skilled players has helped her learn what moves get the most points and all the skill shots.
“I’ve learned more about the games in league than I do just playing by myself,” Jones said.
She worked with a pinball arcade in college and wanted to develop interest in it and to increase exposure to the game, which the ultimate purpose of the league.
“It’s to grow the interest in the community to pinball and it’s a way to learn about all the machines without having to learn and discover it all yourself,” Jones said.
Jones considers a pinball league comparable to a bowling league at a bowling alley.
A league night includes two machines. Everyone plays the machines three times and takes the two best scores.
Finally on the third machine they have a tournament. The machine used in the last tournament was called Black Hole.
Whoever gets the best game walks away with the cash, which was $18 one league night. The prize is derived from contributions each player gives to be allowed to play.
Eventually, Jones hopes to have businesses and friends build teams to play tournaments against each other.
“Some people don’t like the whole individual thing about pinball, but if you are with your friends you can still have a good night,” Jones said.
“It brings people together that wouldn’t normally come together,” she said.
Levi Fels, a junior at Rocky Mountain High School, is the youngest member of the league at 16 years old.
Fels got into pinball after stumbling into Pinball Jones one summer afternoon with friends. He now comes to Pinball Jones to fix and clean machines, and play pinball of course.
“I spend about ten hours a week playing pinball,” Fels said. “It’s school and then pinball.”
His favorite game is the Champion Pub at Chipper’s Lanes.
“I hate having to turn the machines off at the end of the day,” Fels said.
“If you love pinball, then come play and learn more,” Jones said. “And plus you’ll just have fun.”