Pella Chronicle

CNHI/Southeast Iowa

January 11, 2013

Slate: Can this man save pinball?

(Continued)

LAKEWOOD, N.J. —

But to make pinball a mainstream pastime, Guarnieri must appeal to two more-skeptical constituencies: kids with dollar bills and game operators who want to separate those kids from their dollar bills. (Yes, dollar bills — while operators can set the price to 50 cents if they want, it's now typical to spend $1 for a three-ball game.)

No amount of entrepreneurial enthusiasm or technological sophistication can change the fact that pinball faces the same problems that instigated its post-'70s tailspin. In the age of Doodle Jump and streaming videos of keyboard-playing cats, entertainment options are plentiful and cheap. And compared with most anything else a bar manager, multiplex owner or arcade operator might choose to plug into the wall, pinball machines tend to earn less money, require more maintenance and break down more quickly.

This is one thing Gary Stern and Jack Guarnieri can agree on: Pinball will cease to exist as soon as it stops earning money on location. To demonstrate the challenge of keeping pinball commercially viable in 2013, Guarnieri takes me to iPlay America, a 115,000-square-foot amusement center where he's contracted to service the games. This is the ultimate Darwinian arcade environment. There's a go-kart track, a laser-tag arena, a whole bunch of rides, and — in addition to the compulsory fighting and shooting games — skill cranes that dispense iPods and iPads to a lucky few. In the days before the beta version of Wizard of Oz hits the floor, there are just two pinball games on display here: Monopoly and Grand Prix, both Stern titles from the 2000s. Neither one looks like it's been glanced at, let alone played, since before the go-kart-riding kids were born.

The Wizard of Oz, with its big, bright LCD screen and toy-festooned playfield, will certainly draw more eyeballs than an older pinball machine like Grand Prix. But that's not all that relevant when you're battling for the affections of today's overstimulated, under-flippered youth. "Stern is not our competitor," Guarnieri says. "Any other game that goes into an amusement center is our competitor."

Text Only
CNHI/Southeast Iowa
  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Former Centerville teacher drowns in Creston

    A long-time Centerville Community School District teacher and coach has been identified as the man dive teams recovered from a southeast Iowa lake on Tuesday morning.

    July 30, 2014

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • 0729 OTT Picture veteran -T -M Veteran finally receives his medals OTTUMWA — A World War II injury may have saved the life of a U.S. Coast Guardsman from Iowa, but he lost friends and a box of military awards. Francis Hardy Harbour was born on Dec.16, 1919, in Drakesville. He joined the Coast Guard in 1941 as a mach

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

Features
Facebook
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Obituaries