Pinball machine bites the Apple
The return of pinball machine in the world is confirmed by the success of Modern Pinball: the arcade museum in New York, celebrating this game as culture and sport subject.
A few steps from Madison Square Garden and not too far from the glare of Times Square, in the heart of the Big Apple, the Museum of Modern Pinball rises up. A place unique of its kind, halfway between a modern art museum and an arcade, entirely dedicated to pinball machine. What is certain, is that it is a real attraction for New York city and an unmissable meeting point for pinball fans and beyond. Because the Modern, already in its debut in November 2014, has immediately attracted thousands of visitors of all kinds and types. Those who approaches this game for the first time ever and who was looking for a peaceful environment for training, between a professional sports pinball tournament and another.
In fact, the Modern is also designed as a kind of headquarters of sport in the Apple and more generally in the United States, hosting prominent events to a standing appointment represented by the Super League. But it is also and above all a place of culture, established under the protection of the Board of Regents and certified by the State Department of Education of the New York State’s University. This is because the Museum of Modern Pinball offers a practical approach to understand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (multi-disciplinarity contained in the acronym Stem) enclosed in pinball machine world. In addition to hosting a EduFun program, in which The Wall Street Journal and the Columbia University are taking part too.
For a really comprehensive project that has immediately been successful in the city, as explained by Francesco La Rocca from Palermo, Sicily, New Yorker by adoption and partner of Modern Pinball. “We have immediately had an amazing impact, given that this is a unique structure and that we don’t use tokens or electronic cards, but we pay an entrance based on visiting time – from a minimum of one hour to a full day – and all pinball machines are offered for free to visitors. To date we count about three hundred visitors per week, of all classes and ages, thanks to promotions such as those on Groupon, Travel Zoo, Trip Advisor and others, and also thanks to the fact that the Modern is one of the few structures in New York where there are no age limits, so especially children are welcome. This doens’t happen in the numerous bars in New York where pinball machines are”.
But how much to support a structure of this kind in a city like New York costs? “The costs are very high between electricity, rent and staff and probably there are no big profits but a great love for this game by the promoter, Steve Zahler, and everyone who works at the Modern. But the fact that after two years we are still here is the concrete evidence that the project works. Birthday parties often held on weekends, classes for children and teenagers to study pinball machines physics, groups coming from offices and competitive sports pinball leagues help in a serious way to the maintenance of the structure as well as guaranteeing a certain cultural pluralism”.
But can we see a real backdraught from the public for pinball machine in New York and in general? “No doubt a lot of people, even after two years, continues to enter in this place and wonder that pinball machine still exists. But with the joy of knowing that we can still find this wonderful game.” What is the best thing of your work into the Modern? “Certainly the Superleague, with seven pinball machines where we can play every week for a total of 28 per month, but to which we can participate also with only one score. In this way, all people entering the Modern are challenging each other and this invites them to improve, to compete, to learn all the tricks to make big scores. For my part, I try to encourage everyone to participate in the most important league in the world, that changed the IFPA structure and that will require further changes. I want everyone to play hours and hours with the pinball machine because it is always the best mean to entertain and socialize.
We had the pleasure of also receiving the World Champion Daniel Acciari and other Italians during the week of the World 2016, and them with a single day got more points for the ranking than in other Italian tournaments. This is because the Superleague is based on my presence three days per week with no specific times and this helps people to come whenever they want.” Long live the pinball machine and Modern Pinball!