Some would say pinball is a tactile experience in a digital age. Others would point to the amazing visuals and sound. Maybe it's just fun to play. It’s been a long time since the sounds of pinball have echoed through the streets of downtown Spokane like they are now. According to pinballmap.com, the downtown core now has no less than 37 of the illuminated marvels at 16 different locations. Widen your range to all of Spokane and there’s a total of 99 machines at 39 different spots, including nice clusters in the neighborhoods around Garland, North Monroe, East Sprague, and the South Hill.
Over the last 30 to 40 years, local, operating pinball machines grew scarce as video games became the preferred digital diversion in arcades, pizza parlors, bowling alleys, and other retail spaces. Not only were those early stand up coin-operating games more advanced in terms of gameplay, but they also took up less valuable floor space than a long pinball cabinet.
But local enthusiasts have seen a steady incline in pinball interest in the last few years. Beth McRae, co-owner of downtown hotspot Berserk, says they opened with three machines in June of 2018, but are already up to eight. “We love supporting the game but it was also totally driven by demand. Steadily, more and more people were coming in to play.”
MaCrae and her business partner James Hunt realized there was no league or tournament play being offered locally, so they started The Berserk Pinheads. Membership and participation in the various tournament formats are building steadily.
As Beth says, the game is fun to play, and always has been.