Stern Pinball’s recent announcement of a new line of KISS pinball machines “honoring one of the most influential and iconic rock bands of all time,” reminded me how frequently today’s coin-operated amusement games center on licensed brands, revered characters, and cultural icons.
Biologists who study the fossil record note that dramatic blooms in the number and diversity of species interrupt long periods of stasis or gradual change in animal forms. Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould termed this phenomenon “punctuated equilibrium” and wrote a book, Wonderful Life, about the sudden efflorescence of fossils during the Cambrian period about 550 million years ago.
“Finish him!” “Save the princess!” “Time is running out!” Video game designers excel at creating high-stakes environments. And television has earned some laughs depicting the obsessive players who heed these calls to action. Here are some of the memorable ways television shows have turned video games into life-or-death situations.
L. Frank Baum's classic novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, captivated generations of audiences with its iconic characters, adventurous storyline, and captivating setting. Published in 1900, the novel inspired countless adaptations in a variety of mediums including stage plays, films, novels, and video games. The Wizard of Oz film, released in 1939 by MGM, remains a legendary title and cultural icon. This summer, visitors to The Strong’s Pinball Playfields exhibit have the opportunity to play The Wizard of Oz pinball.
Statistics sit at the heart of baseball. A hitter’s batting average predicts his success at the plate, a pitcher’s Earned Run Average measures his overall effectiveness, and a fielder’s rate of errors correlates strongly with his likelihood of making a play. Since computers prove effective tools for measuring probabilities and statistics, it is not surprising that some of the earliest applications of computers for game play involved baseball simulation.
My family was cutting-edge back in the 1980s. We had a TRS-80. My father subscribed to 80 Micro. He dabbled in BASIC programming.
“For me, the Cube is a piece of art. It is more than an object with the shapes of a cube made of plastic, more than many colored stickers, more than a puzzle, and it is much more than a gimmick. Like other pieces of art, the Cube is more than itself. Though it may look ever simple at first, it is in fact rather complicated and complex at the same time.” -Ernő Rubik, 2008
Over the past two years, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) has been working to preserve pinball’s past by expanding its collection to more than 50 historic pinball machines—adding early “pin games” (flipperless predecessors to pinball machines) and electromechanical and “solid state” (electronic) pinball machines to the museum’s unparalleled collection of playthings.This summer (from May 24 to September 7), The Strong is showcasing some of these machines and related materials in Pinball Playfields, a tempo