Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Andrew Joseph, who currently is displayed on card number 3727, from the Superstars of 2021 Collection. Andrew grew up playing pinball but only started competing competitively a few years ago. Andrew’s game of choice is Hot Wheels pinball. He believes it was the best machine to come out in 2020. Andrew loves to play pinball with his kids and would like to go back to the old days when he would play with his dad.
Do you remember your first pinball machine you played and what do you remember about it?
The first pinball machine I ever played was a Stern Quicksilver. My grandfather had bought it new and set it up in his basement for the family to play. He loved playing pinball and he taught me how to play. Aside from the bright colors on the game, the main thing I remember was being able to hang out with my grandfather who to me was the coolest guy in the world. When I see kids playing pinball with their parents or grandparents in an arcade it takes me back to when I was a kid, and it makes me smile.
What does it take to be a pinball collector?
In no particular order, money, patience and luck. Once people know that you are in to pinball it’s a fact that stands out in their brain about you. I’ve had people that I haven’t talked to in a couple years reach out to me because they remembered me talking about pinball and now their aunt or uncle has one that they are looking to get rid of. Friends of friends that I helped out with fixing their machines have reached out because they just happen to come across a machine. Part of thrill in this world is not only bringing one of these machines back to life, but also not knowing what the next phone call or text message is going to bring.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
Never in my wildest dreams. This was a true honor. Growing up my generation was always told that you couldn’t make a living playing video games and now you have kids and adults alike that earn lots of money by doing it. I love seeing video games and pinball being a part of mainstream society today.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
The first time I was able to meet Walter face to face was at the 2021 Expo and it was a privilege to meet him. He truly is an icon in the gaming world. I had seen plenty of interviews with him through the years but to be able to actually meet him and shake his hand was a great experience.
What was the best era for pinball gaming in your opinion?
For me that would have to be the 90’s. There was a marked change in the type of games that started coming out. You saw more elaborate ramp designs, deeper rulesets, and a lot of tie-ins to pop culture. Twilight Zone, Adam’s Family, Whirlwind, these are titles that will stand the test of time.
In your opinion, are there enough or too little Pinball Expos and conferences held each year?
As a fan I would love to see more conferences, but I know that logistically it takes a lot of behind the scenes work to make that happen. As long as each area in the country (i.e., East, West, Midwest, North and South) have at least one main one that people can get to I think that will be great. The expos that people are putting on now are fantastic and after the last 18 months that the world has endured, I know we are all just thankful to be able to get back out and spend time with each other enjoying a hobby that we love.
What’s your opinion of the console pinball games (Xbox, PlayStation) that recreate the original machines onto the TV screen?
I love them. Pinball on a console serves several purposes in my mind. It’s a chance for people to relive playing titles that they have not seen in a while or may not have available in their area. It serves as a generational bridge for parents to be able to play a game with their kids and have family time together. Let’s face it not every parent knows how to play Fortnite or Minecraft. For tournament players like myself, it allows you to work on strategies and learn more about games that you may come across in the future.
Did you agree on the pinball ban in New York City on the 1970s? What is your opinion on this topic?
I don’t agree with the pinball ban of the 70’s, but that is the benefit of hindsight…it’s always 20/20. People fear things that they don’t understand or seem strange and there have been numerous laws that were made in our history that reinforce this belief. For me it should serve as a lesson to everyone, not just pinball enthusiasts. Don’t waste time trying to ban or put down things you don’t understand. Just because it is different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Use your time to see things from someone else’s point of view for a change. Only by doing this can we truly grow as a society.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of Pinball? How do you compare them to older, classic machines?
The games that are coming out now are in a league of their own. Today’s companies have an added benefit of newer technology at their disposal. Trying to compare older games to newer games is the equivalent of comparing a Model T Ford with a Tesla. The older machines did the best they could with the technology of their time, and they did it quite well, but pinball will always evolve and change to reflect the change in the times. I can still have just as much fun playing an EM as I do play a brand-new game because for me it’s about enjoying the experience.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Visionary. The gaming world would not be where it is now without him. Walter saw the importance of getting not only games but gaming achievement recognition out into the mainstream world and with his help and promotion, that is the reason that we professional game teams and players today.
What is your favorite pinball machine past and present and why?
For past machine I would have to say Twilight Zone and for a present machine the new Godzilla pin that Stern just put out is amazing. If I had back all of the money that I spent playing Twilight Zone through the years, I probably could have bought my own if not a couple of them. I was a huge fan of the show, and this was the first machine that I remember having literally everything in it. Even today when I come across one, I have to play it. As for Godzilla, this machine is literally a work of art. The flow, the depth and design of the game is amazing. Keith Elwin, Zombie Yeti and their whole team truly knocked it out of the park with this one. It’s not a game, it’s an experience. Game of the Year for 2021 in my opinion.
What would your design and theme of the perfect pinball machine be and why?
I am more of a player than a designer. I don’t know that I could sit down long enough to come up with an original layout for a machine, I just love to play all of them! There are features that I would like to see, and I think that we will see them come to pass in the not-too-distant future. I do see an opportunity coming soon for manufacturers to pull titles from the 90’s pop culture scene to use as inspiration. Power Rangers, Pokémon, Masters of the Universe, shows that we watched as kids would make great titles to enjoy as adults.
Are you fan of the new digital pinball machines and what makes them better or worse than the standard machines?
I am a fan of the digital machines, but I don’t see them taking over the pinball market any time soon. To me they are like the console pinball games, great if you want to practice lots of different games that you don’t have access to, but at its core pinball is a tactile experience that just can’t be duplicated with a screen at this time. Maybe in the future when we are all hanging out in the metaverse “Ready Player One” style it will feel different but for now give me a full-sized live action pinball to play.
If you could only own one pinball machine, what would it be and why?
If I could find that Stern Quicksilver that my grandfather owned, I would want that one. I want to be able to use that as a family heirloom and pass it down to my grandkids someday. I’m always on the lookout for it, maybe I’ll get lucky someday.
Are pinball machines aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
Pinball is for everyone. Go to any expo or tournament and you will see people of every age, race, religion, or gender and they are all there having a great time and enjoying themselves. Pinball is an inclusive community that anyone can, and everyone should enjoy.
Do you prefer playing pinball alone or against someone and why?
I love playing pinball with other people. Whether it’s a friendly competition, serious tournament or just hanging out with my friends and playing I have a great time. Every game I play or watch I’m always coming away with something new. A new angle to look at, a new piece of strategy to incorporate or just a good memory of a great time.
Which company makes/made the best pinball machines and why?
Asking me that is like asking me which one of my children is my favorite, I can’t just pick one. Each company out there today is doing amazing things. Stern is putting out several solid titles each year. Jersey Jack makes games with some of the deepest rule sets and visually stunning games on the market. American Pinball makes solid reliable games that needed minor maintenance if any at all. I just got to play the new updated Cactus Canyon that CGC announced, and that game is so much fun to play. There is such a great competition out there between the different manufacturers and we as the consumers are loving every minute of it.
Do you learn anything from playing pinball?
Absolutely. Aside from the benefit of practicing hand and eye coordination, you can actually learn a lot about yourself while playing pinball. Pinball is controlled chaos where your main opponent is you and gravity. You start to learn how to control stressful situations, planning out your next move and you can also learn how those around you handle themselves in certain situations.
Are pinball machines good for relieving stress?
Pinball is my main form of stress relief. When I need to relax, I pop in my ear buds and play a few games. The rest of the world just melts away. I don’t have to think about what projects I have coming up, or what deadlines that I am facing. It’s just me and in my own little world and I find it to be very peaceful.
Where do you see pinball in the next 20 years?
I can see games that have live 1 vs.1 or team play available. You could walk up to a machine and play in a head-to-head match with someone on the other side of the country and actually see them playing live on the screen with you. We will see more games being connected to each other and servers to allow for instant downloads or live technical support or tutorials. In the next 5 years I would not be surprised to see games that you can pay for with crypto currency to play. I think now is a great time for companies to start looking at bringing back some of the classic games that we had in the 80’s and 90’s. Use the new technology, update the codes. etc. I still want to see original titles coming out, but I know there is huge market potential for re-issued games.