Our next Trading Card Spotlight features George Gomez who currently is displayed on card number 269, from the Superstars of 2012 Collection. He is also featured on card 758. George is an industrial designer, video game designer, and pinball designer who has worked for Bally, Williams, and Stern Pinball, among other companies. His most famous games are TRON, Spy Hunter, Monster Bash, Revenge from Mars, Lord of the Rings, Batman, Sopranos & most recently Deadpool. George has designed 18 pinball titles and was Executive Producer of Midway’s NBA Ballers franchise for the consoles. On October 4th, 2008, George was inducted into the Pinball Expo Hall of Fame for his contributions in both pinball and the video game world. In 2011, he was appointed Executive Vice President of Game Development at Stern Pinball. His current position is EVP/Chief Creative Officer.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of Pinball? How do you compare them to older, classic machines?
The entertainment experience in today’s games is so much more evolved and games have much deeper rules and they have a lot more play value. The old games are fun to revisit but I’m more attracted to the stuff we are making today.
What was the best era for pinball gaming in your opinion?
Right now, is the best era for pinball. The games are deeper and more evolved than they’ve ever been.
Do you remember your first pinball machine you played and what do you remember about it?
I think that it was a space theme. I discovered pinball while on a cross country trip with the Boy Scouts. We were staying at military bases as we traveled, and every base had a game room. I spent too much of my spending money the games.
In your opinion, are there enough or too little Pinball Expos and conferences held each year?
As far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier. It means that the fan base is growing, and that worldwide interest is very high.
Which company makes/made the best pinball machines and why?
Well clearly, I have a bias. Without a doubt Stern Pinball. The most well rounded and reliable games are Stern games. Most interesting layouts, the most comprehensive rule sets that have something for everyone, best interactive toys, best video production for the displays, best sound design, and the best art. Oh, and we actually mass produce them so you can get them fairly easily.
What’s your opinion of the Console Pinball games (Xbox, PlayStation) that recreate the original machines onto the TV screen?
It’s a different medium but I think it’s great. They extend the way people interact with the concept of pinball.
Did you agree on the pinball ban in New York City on the 1970s? What is your opinion on this topic?
No, pinball is clearly a game of skill. The ban was created by people that did not really understand the game.
When did you first meet Walter day and where was it at?
I don’t recall but I think it was at an industry show, like AMOA, not at fan show.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Driven. I think his energy and commitment to the myriad gaming hobbies is remarkable.
What is your favorite pinball machine past and present and why?
That’s hard to say; sort of like asking what your favorite music is. I’m currently loving our Godzilla game. I like my own Deadpool a lot also.
What would your design and theme of the perfect pinball machine be and why?
That’s also a hard question, because I’m always trying to make something better or more fun. There are lots of themes that I think would be great for pinball. I think King Kong is a natural. A theme has to have a lot of different elements that you can build on.
Are you fan of the new digital pinball machines and what makes them better or worse than the standard machines?
I think they have a place. It’s a different game. I think that digital pinball needs to focus on the things that can take advantage of the medium. I think fantasy fits better than simulation. Simulation will always face the challenge of comparison and the physics just aren’t quite there.
If you could only own one pinball machine, what would it be and why?
Wow, that’s hard. I’d be happy with my Deadpool game; a game for all times.
What does it take to be a pinball designer?
Creativity, perseverance, mechanical aptitude, an open mind and you have to be into the game.
Do you prefer playing pinball alone or against someone and why?
I like both. One experience is strictly competitive against the machine but when you play against someone you face both, the challenge of the machine and the opponent.
Do you learn anything from playing pinball?
You learn about people by socializing around the game. You learn about physics and mechanical devices and the feedback elements that create entertainment. When people talk about the game, it's really the feedback elements that they are discussing, even when they talk about score or how something feels or what they like or don’t like.
Are pinball machines good for relieving stress?
Yes, because when you engage with the game, your mind wanders away into the focus required to interact with it.
What was your first reaction when you found out you were inducted into the Pinball Hall of Fame?
I was shocked, I had no idea what was going on, even as it was happening.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
Ha! No absolutely not!
Where do you see the pinball in the next 20 years?
I see a great evolution that will revolve around our new Insider Connected system that allows the games to engage players in new ways and extends every aspect of the game into the connected universe that we live in.