Pinball tournaments roll out the retro

Babin Dinda

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  • Elliott Layne plays a game of pinball at the Pinball Jones Campus West location during the last night of the summer league. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

  • Kim Jones plays a game of pinball at the Pinball Jones Campus West location. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

  • A pinball machine lights up with a high score following a game of pinball at the Pinball Jones Campus West location. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

  • Natasha Kalda, left, and Elliott Layne discuss pinball tactics and the intricacies of pinball machines while Jcob Kalda, right, writes down his score following a game of pinball at the Pinball Jones Campus West location. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

  • Two players compete next to each other in a game of pinball at the Pinball Jones Camus West location. The stance of a player is very important, and there are many different types of stances, according to Kim Jones. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

  • Kim Jones, in front of machine, plays a round of pinball at the Pinball Jones Campus West location during the summer league of competitive pinball. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

  • A glass of beer is illuminated by the lights of several pinball machines at the Pinball Jones Campus West location. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

  • Kim Jones, a partner owner of the Pinball Jones Campus West location holds out a handful of quarters as she prepares to play a few games of pinball. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

  • A pinball machine lights up at the end of a round at the Pinball Jones Campus West location. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

  • Natasha Kalda plays a game of pinball as part of the summer league of competitive pinball at the Pinball Jones Campus West location. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

  • Elliott Layne plays a game of pinball at the Pinball Jones Campus West location during the last night of the summer league. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

  • A pinball machine is pictured in action at the Pinball Jones Campus West location. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

  • Pinball machines featuring all different types of science fiction movies are seen at the Pinball Jones Campus West location. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

    Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

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When asked to choose between a gaming system and an arcade, there may not be a lot of people who would choose the “old school” route.  

The final novice rounds of the pinball tournaments held at Pinball Jones have ended, and the professionals have stepped in for their turn. This is a monthly happening at Pinball Jones where individuals from all enthusiast levels gather for two things in particular: pinball and good times. 

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“This is where you meet your first date,” owner Kim Jones said. “Pinball serves as a brilliant icebreaker, you don’t have to have a conversation to have a good time.”

Pinball Jones has been holding these tournaments since its start in 2011 and all of the leagues are monitored by the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA). Elliott Layne, the organizer of these tournaments and a semi-professional player himself, said that Pinball Jones holds tournaments throughout the year, as well as training sessions.

These training sessions are mentored by a professional to disperse the strategies and techniques of the sport. Layne also said that with this growing fan base, there are resources like pinside.com where users can go to locate establishments that own a pinball machine.  

Summer league pinball tournaments are located at Pinball Jones Campus West with a $5.00 entry fee. All skill levels are welcome.

There is a misconception that this modern generation lacks the psychological set up to appreciate old-fashioned machinery. However, these tournaments at Pinball Jones just might flip that entire notion on its head.  Jackson Fry, a competitor at the tournament used the example of Escher Lofkoff, the 13-year-old pinball world champion from Denver.

Kim Jones plays a game of pinball at the Pinball Jones Campus West location. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

When asked whether the younger generation  is slowly moving toward the digital world of gaming and leaving behind the arcade machines, the response was the same across the board. 

“I am a gamer myself, and the hand-eye coordination that you develop playing games are translated to these machines,” competitor Natasha Kalda said. “The only difference is that pinball is a little more physically connected than any video games.”

This tournament and the atmosphere at Pinball Jones goes far beyond a sense of competition. The people of Fort Collins have learned to personalize things with the essence of family. 

Jones also highlights a new trend that she is seeing in pinball bars across this city. Parents who have already been exposed to this trend are introducing it to their kids. If people were to say that this enthusiasm stays for a year or two before reverting back to the world of ‘Halo’ and ‘Call of Duty’, they have Escher Lofkoff to prove them wrong. 

Competitor Karen Ellis also said that one can find enthusiasts from all age groups and professional backgrounds.

“Pinball brings people together,” Ellis said. “I once found a CSU professor playing with a cop.”  

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People here treat this as a space where individuals from all social and economic background can come and have a good time.

“We don’t talk about work or ask what they do for a living here,” Kalda said. “This is a judgment-free zone.”

Jones says the tournament is designed to feel more like a gathering of friends and family than a competition.  

A glass of beer is illuminated by the lights of several pinball machines at the Pinball Jones Campus West location. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

With the influx of the younger generation, countering the stereotypes, there is also a growing interest in pinball amongst women.  

Whether one does this for winning prizes or for friends, one thing is very certain from this experience. These events and their hosts have given more to this city than engagement. These small-scale gatherings serve as a “judgment free” bonding place, a place to escape from the all the hustle-and-bustle of your life.

Whether one goes to this event to let out steam from a days’ work, participate in this tournament or to play pinball for the first time, a night at Pinball Jones is highly recommended. Pinball Jones has more to offer than just arcade and bar.  

Collegian reporter Babin Dinda can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @Babin39443894.