Regionless Map

After nearly ten years of creating new pinball map regions, we’ve amassed 95 of them. So we think we have good coverage of most of the pinball hot spots in the US and Canada (and now one part of Australia). But even so, we get regular requests to cover MORE lands. In the past we’ve waffled on this issue. But now the voices are too loud, and we cannot ignore them.

So we made a map that has all 95 regions merged together, and it also contains locations that aren’t within those regions.

Introducing the beta version of the One Big Pinball Map!

It’s not yet as fully featured as the regional maps. But it’s still very usable and cool. We’ll be adding more to it. But for now, use it and give us feedback!

Other, related news is that we’re doing a complete rewrite of the app. Like this regionless map, it will allow you all to browse all the data without having to switch between regions. It will be great!

Roanoke, Tucson, Bend

Hey. HEY!

We added three new regions recently:

Roanoke, Virginia

Tucson, Arizona

Bend, Oregon


The Bend locations haven’t been added yet, but will be soon. They have a nice growing pinball scene there.

If you live in any of these areas and know of locations that aren’t listed, please submit those locations! Roanoke’s gotta have more than three locations, right? We want them ALL listed!

Updated Criteria for Creating New Pinball Maps

As much as we want to consider this site to represent anarchism in motion – with anonymous, equal users contributing bits of knowledge – there is a hierarchy of roles. Scott and Ryan are gatekeepers, allowing or denying the creation of new regions. And admins are sub-gatekeepers, allowing or denying the creation of new locations. This made us think: What if we (scott and ryan) are a weak link in this process. We don’t think we are… but still, it made us wonder for a minute there.

People regularly email us asking for a new region. Some of these requests don’t go anywhere. They usually don’t go anywhere because 1) the requests don’t say anything about wanting to administer the data for that region (and they don’t respond when we ask them about that), 2) the region only contains one or two locations, and/or 3) the request is made by an operator.

So, in an attempt to codify this, we’ll elaborate a bit on those three points. They are necessary points when creating a new map.

1) Each map must have a local person acting as an administrator. The administrator must care about the integrity of the map! They’re an overseer. It doesn’t take much work to be an admin. But a good admin is the difference between a languishing, sloppy map and a maintained, clean one. And regular users get a lot more out of a well-maintained map.

So if you request a map, but don’t want to be the admin, then you don’t get a map.

Fun fact: right now the site has 73 regions and over 90 admins.

We’re often looking for NEW admins. If you want to help maintain your local map, hit us up. It never hurts to have more.

2) When areas just have a couple locations with pinball, the maps usually don’t see much action. Ideally, a new region will have 10 (ten) or more locations. But of course, this isn’t always the case. However, we’re going to try and stick to this. The more locations an area has, the more active the map. It’s really cool that your area has one giant arcade with 40 machines. But do you need a map for that?

3) Admins can’t be operators. We’ve had a couple bad experiences lately with admins who are operators failing to remain neutral. In one case, we deleted the region because the guy only added his own places (and did a terrible job with the data entry) and ignored all other location submissions, and in the other case that admin resigned because he steadfastly refused to add his competitors locations (followed shortly by that region experiencing the most malicious edits that we’ve seen in nine years of doing this).

There is a major difference between operators and all the other people who use the maps: operators are in it to make money. It’s their business. And that’s great – part of the mission of this site is to promote pinball, and operators are at the foundation of this. They put machines on route. This map doesn’t exist without them. For everyone else (including us) it’s purely for pleasure. But since operators have a financial stake in contents of the site, they sometimes take it really seriously and personally. For example, to one operator, a “right flipper broken” machine comment might be responded to in the comments with, “oh, thanks, I’ve fixed the flipper.” And another operator might respond to that with, “A++ Machine, Brand New LED. Plays Perfectly, You Gotta Come Down Here And Check It Out!!!” Did this latter operator fix the issue? Not sure. What is more clear is that the comment resembles an advertisement.

It’s flattering to us that operators think this website impacts their business. We want to help them and encourage them to maintain their machines. But… bottom line, they can’t be admins.

New England Pinball Maps

The Boston Pinball Map was a big map. How big was it, you ask? It covered a good portion of New England.

But if you live in Connecticut, would you know to look under the Boston map in order to locate pinball machines in your area? Probably not. So, in order to make the regional maps in that area more intuitive for people, we split them up in state regions. So now instead of a Boston map we have:

Massachusetts Pinball Map
Connecticut Pinball Map
Rhode Island Pinball Map
New Hampshire Pinball Map

We didn’t create Vermont or Maine, because there are already two city-based maps in them:

Burlington, Vermont Pinball Map
Portland, Maine Pinball Map

We’re looking for administrators for Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire! If you live in those states, love pinball, and enjoy punctuating things correctly and helping keep data clean, then please contact us.

A Weekend In The Life of the Portland Pinball Map

Activity on the website picks up on the weekends. The weekends, after all, are when many people get a chance to hop around and play pinball. Friday and Saturday evenings, especially, seem to produce the most updates. Some of these updates are drunkenly typed machine comments (which can be pretty entertaining!), but many are quality map updates: machines added to spots, machines removed, comments about machines. We’re always thankful that people have their local pinball map in mind when they’re out and about. It’s cool that they (you) take a moment to make sure it’s up to date.

We thought we’d use this last weekend’s updates to the Portland Oregon Pinball Map to try and produce a narrative. The data are based on machines being added to places (as seen on the RSS feed), machines removed (these notifications are emailed to us), locations suggested (again, email), and comments left (email). Put together, this can provide a decent story about site usage (the only – fairly major – thing left out is analytics… which we didn’t bother to look at).

We’ll start it off by showing an example email. This is the first comment of the weekend, left on Friday at 8:08pm.

Stugots Drop-gate is bustered.
The Sopranos
Paymaster Lounge
(entered from via PinballMap/21 (iPhone; iOS 8.4.1; Scale/2.00))

This message tells us that someone left a comment on The Sopranos at Paymaster Lounge, stating that “Stugots Drop-gate is bustered.” And they were using the iOS app.

Fortunately for this person, Paymaster has three other machines to play.

An hour later, someone else, also using the iOS app (but with a different version of iOS) was playing at Speakeasy Gil’s. They left a machine comment on the Attack from Mars, saying, “No ball related at start of play.” No ball related? Not exactly sure what that means… It’s an autocorrect mistake. No ball launched at start of play?

A few minutes later, at 9:28pm, someone was having fun at Red Flag! Actually, they had a frustrating time. And they had some helpful advice for others.

On AC/DC (LE): “Upper right side rubber broken. Ball stuck. Don’t play.”

One minute later, on Lord of the Rings: “Balrog is fucked. Do not play.”

Luckily, Medieval Madness seemed to work well for them, though it was tough to put up a score: “Plays very well. Difficult replay score(s).”

At that same moment, someone else was playing at B Side Tavern. They noted that “Left flipper soft and super sticky” on The Sopranos. Bummer. No one loves a soft and super sticky flipper.

And then everyone went to bed.

The next day, Saturday, someone submitted a new location for the Portland Map. Except they spelled it, “Portladn” and the machine as “Fash Tales.” Luckily, our trusty Portland Pinball Map admin swooped in and corrected these spelling errors, and added the location!

That’s actually the only map edit/activity on Saturday. So, this example weekend is a slow one!

But it’s not over yet. On Sunday, Twilight Zone was added to Pinball Outreach Project – POP HQ. Interesting story: when that location was first submitted to us, it was submitted as “POP HQ – Pinball Outreach Project.” And when the words are in that order, people have trouble finding it on the map. We received numerous location submissions and messages, even though it was already on the map! So I switched the order of the words, and now everything’s cool.

Also, Twilight Zone was added to that location at 6:37am. Never too early to play some pinball!

Moving on. At 2:37pm, someone got bummed about the left flipper dying on the Attack from Mars at Slingshot Lounge. Let’s hope it gets fixed soon!

Sunday at 4pm’s a good time to hit up a strip club. And that’s exactly what this Android user did, at Hawthorne Strip. Bad news, though: they removed The Simpsons Pinball Party and WHO Dunnit! When machines are removed, often times another one is added in its place. In this case, two more machines were added later Sunday night: Eight Ball Deluxe and Harlem Globetrotters. I would guess that the operator, Rose City Pinball, added/removed these machines.

Remember 2:37pm when that flipper at Slingshot Lounge broke? At 5:18pm, someone using the same device type reported that the flipper was fixed! It either fixed itself, or the operator, Quarterworld, is super on top of it. Probably the latter.

Sunday ends on a sad note. Two machines were removed from Bunk Bar Water. And they didn’t replace them. What gives, Bunk? Bunk actually has two other locations on the map, so perhaps they’re not altogether giving up on pinball. Let’s hope that Bunk Bar Water gets them back.

Welp, that’s all we have for you! It definitely doesn’t give a full picture of what’s happening on a weekend in Portland, Oregon. But these anonymous updates help us form some sort of narrative. Jeb Bush is right that “things happen.” In this case, the things are new discoveries (machines added), setbacks (machines removed), glitches, and – we can presume – a whole lot of fun. But people are more apt to share their problems than their triumphs. We just want you to know: we hear your frustrations about those broken machines, and we hope they are soon resolved. And thanks to cool ops who use the map, chances are they will be.

  • Posted on October 13, 2015
  • Tagged regions