June 22

News : Pinball: The gateway game : Tampa Bay Creative Loafing

Creative Loafing posted an article about the history and art of pinball show taking place in Tarpon Springs Florida.  The name of the show is Youth Gone Wild: The History and Art of Pinball and can be seen now until September 18.  The details of the show are listed below.

Youth Gone Wild: The History and Art of Pinball
$7. Through September 18. Tues.- Thurs. & Sat., 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thurs., 5-8 p.m.; Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sun.1–5 p.m.
Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, 600 E. Klosterman Rd., Tarpon Springs. 727-712-LRMA. leeparattner.com.


I am a pinball wizard.

Actually, I’m not. I do love the game, though: As a kid, we went to this restaurant in Mamaroneck called Cook’s, and they had a game room which, in the 1970s, consisted of — you guessed it — many pinball machines (they also had Skee-Ball and other pre-16-bit processor games). Pinball in the 1970s, though, didn’t have all the bells and whistles pinball machines do today.

Literally. The bells and whistles on early pinball machines — actual bells — gave way to more digital mechanisms. Pinball machine technology evolved as did other technologies, but at its core, pinball remains a game of skill in a Candy Crush world. No unlimited lives, no haptic feedback — it’s you against the ball.

The newest exhibit at Tarpon’s Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art glories in pinball, from its earliest iteration as a game called bagatelle, to one of the best-selling pinball games of all time, The Addams Family. The exhibit delves into backglass art — the board that shows the score — as well as the game’s controversial history.

Let’s start with the backglass, something I never thought about too much until I saw this exhibit. I paid more attention to the playfield, the area where the ball goes. Game companies like Bally and the now-defunct D. Gottlieb & Co. knew this, and hired playfield designers to create enticing playfields. The Addams Family‘s playfield includes clever effects, such as Thing appearing to grab the ball if you hit the right spot. Discovering these secret parts of the playfield contribute to pinball’s allure.

Game companies hired playfield designers first, then backglass artists. Often, these artists didn’t see the actual games; instead of hiring them for a certain type of game, companies sought artists for their style. Roy Parker, who worked for Gottlieb & Co., had a reputation for his “Parker blonde” and adding incredible detail into his art.

Dave Christensen, the backglass artist for the Tommy-inspired Captain Fantastic, put a touch too much detail into the backglass. The initial version featured (for the time) X-rated art, precursors to today’s Easter eggs, including a woman with her hand down the front of a man’s powder-blue leisure suit. A small number of “naughty” backglasses made it through production before anyone noticed and changed the artwork.

Even without the sexual innuendo, pinball’s had a hard history.

While a far cry from Grand Theft Auto, these games apparently led the nation’s youth to a life of crime — or so law enforcement said.

“Under the masquerade of a seemingly childish amusement, the pinball machine encourages wide-scale criminal activities involving intimidation of storekeepers and pay-offs to hoodlums and racketeers,” New York Police Commissioner Arthur W. Wallander said in the May 7, 1948 New York Times. Better Homes and Gardens, too, took issue with the game in 1957.

Read the entire article here :

Thanks to Tampa Bay Creative Loafing and Cathy Sulustri for the article and pictures.