Pinball isn’t as random as it seems

Pinball isn’t as random as it seems

Hint: Go for the flashing lights.

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When you look at a pinball machine, you might think it’s nothing more than a bunch of flashing lights. Many people think the game is random, but it’s actually carefully laid out in groups of targets that correlate to specific objectives, called modes.

These modes, along with the multiball, are the key to achieving higher scores in the game. Once you learn to control the ball using the flippers, start aiming for the targets that are lit – that means they are activated. Once hit, the game will light something else to tell you what to aim for next. is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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76 Responses

  1. Sam Looney says:

    You could say that we’ve *Pinned* down the strategy!

  2. Reza Mahendra Kurnia Mellenium says:

    This is so interesting, now i want to play pinball

    • Syn's Arcade says:

      You can find Mom-n-Pop arcades still. I recommend playing an actual pinball machine over a video game version as they do feel dramatically different.
      They are challenging, but that is part of their charm. Do not get frustrated your first few plays. Study the board before you play or if possible, watch someone else play it first and you can notice how the flow and map work. Most importantly, have fun! Good luck

    • willis bunch says:

      If your up in arizona we have d and d pinball up here

    • Syn's Arcade says:

      +willis bunch
      Is that the Tucson spot off 4th ave?

    • Syn's Arcade says:

      Dave and Busters still have pinball machines too, I believe.

    • willis bunch says:

      +Syn’s Arcade yes is is and Dave and busters in tucson did not have them last time I checked…

  3. Mr Wilson says:

    Listen.. Tap the bell icon in my photo, Enter the weird side of youtube

  4. biokaese says:

    Somebody remember the Windows Pinball 3D?
    Spend to much childhood on it xD

  5. ggAntique says:

    Who in the heck thinks Pinball is random???

    • Guille Puerto says:

      People who think Minesweeper is just luck

    • HildebrandJohnson says:

      Americans? People from the country where electrified pinball machines, with solenoids and lights, were invited? Americans, from the home of Gottlieb and Williams and Bally and Midway? Those Americans?

    • August Greig says:

      Ben Wangler There’s nothing elitist about it. The rules are written right on the machine with further details on the screen. It is just absurd to think a game has no rules, or that a game with words like “SKILL SHOT” in giant letters involves no skill. The modern machines, the ones with the screens, even talk to you. “Shoot the ramp!” and stuff like that. Why would you put money into a machine before reading the rules? Why would ANYONE play a random game?

    • Ben Whittington says:

      mogur00 oh god, get a life, are you really that insecure that you have to blame it on ANOTHER COUNTRY? lol get a life loser

    • Ben Whittington says:


  6. Liam Vance says:

    I’ve never actually played it in real life, just on windows XP as a kid haha

  7. SkeleCrafter says:

    When I was a kid I thought it was random but after playing Pinball FX3, I realised it’s much more and actually, it’s pretty fun trying to grind higher scores.

  8. George maine says:

    People who grew up with a computer but no internet already know about this

  9. nd4spd says:

    Only a moron would believe that a game with a list of rules on it, is totally “random”.

    • nd4spd says:

      Slot machines are certainly not random either, they’re heavily biased to the ‘house’.
      Yep, rules engineered to pay out at a specific measured rate to keep people playing while taking their money.

      Now, many pinball machines also employ similar techniques to make money, but considering all you’re expected to get from the game is joy of the game itself or a high score it’s a bit different.

      In a sense, the rules of slot machines etc exist specifically to deceive, whereas rules of pinball tend to be more about the fun/challenge of the game itself, which in a roundabout way could get the game more players to spend their change on it.

    • Dhruv Menon says:

      Skinner’s box.

    • Lil Novi says:

      There are games with rules that are random. Monopoly, uno,

    • August Greig says:

      Lil Novi No, they have random elements. Huge difference.

    • merickful says:

      Ignorant maybe but moron is a stretch. I will say that this video is not one of Vox’s best. It’s just a condensed interview that inadequately covers the topic.

  10. Austin Natan says:

    Only 90’s kids will remember…

    *_Pinball Space Cadet for Windows XP_*

  11. The Overlord Girl says:

    God, I miss this game! 😭

  12. overlycreative1 says:

    You can lead your life by accident or by purpose. Pinball is an example of those two different types of thinking. People who play purposefully accumulate points, people who rely on accident find themselves out of the game very quickly. Life is a pinball game, pull the plunger and go for it or do nothing and watch the balls disappear into the holes of poverty. Education is the key to success.


      Luck plays a big role too!

    • ToxicKlay says:

      while true a lot of the time, I find that sometimes, stepping up to a machine with only a basic knowledge of the ruleset allows me to kind of figure the game out as I go, and I’ve had some of my best scores posted on first or second-time plays

    • fluke196c says:

      Institutional education is the key to debt. Self directed learning combined with curiosity is the key to success.

    • Dean Notarnicola says:

      Luck favors the prepared

    • Droucko says:

      +fluke196c Well, not everywhere you end up in debt. I agree, that staying curios and to learn something new, that intrests you or to atleast try out things is probably Key to a fullfilled Life…self education is great too, but esspecially at more difficult things or if you habe trouble with motivation/getting through or done with something, an experienced tutor could help wonders.

      I also wouldn’t say that institutional education is complete bullshit…yeah it has it’s flaws…but it’s a great system for teaching the basics and later on higher the bar of the basic education lvl. in a country.
      It’s not the right way for everyone after the basics are learned, but with some work (talking about germany atleast) you could modernize that system just a bit and change that…e.g. If you let the students choose more of what they are intressted in and what they wanna learn, if you could make the school into a place were everyone could get to know themselfds,their intrest and abillitys, were you show those students what each field/class can teach them, let them choose were to learn deeper theories and were they just get teached the most important or a bit generialzed stuff.

  13. stanj85 says:

    I know I’m not the only one here that learned this game from Sonic Spinball. But that being said, I didn’t even know multi ball was a thing…

  14. overlookers says:

    You might say….that Roger Sharpe… a Pinball…Wi-
    **is shot**

  15. m says:

    I learned this all from Pokemon Pinball

  16. DEAD FLIP says:

    This was extremely well done @vox, Bravo!

  17. Hybrid Trap says:

    Hybrid Trap loves pinball!! 😭

  18. Hybrid Trap says:

    That was beautiful, just played the Batman one yesterday! 😍

  19. John Smith says:

    I think that the main reason many people don’t like pinball that much, is that it is a score-based game. You’re just trying to get points, which are meaningless to a lot of people. There’s no objective. There isn’t even a level 2. By modern standards, that is very primitive. People who love pinball likely love it because it is almost totally real. A real ball bouncing around in a real machine, actually being hit by real flippers, and bouncing around real tracks with actual light bulbs blinking behind physical elements of the game. Unless it’s a board game, modern games are all digital simulations of things happening, rather than the fact of them happening.

    • Superstarlight867530 says:

      John Smith – totally agree. I’ve been a mad keen pinball player since my dad got me into it when I was a child, and though it’s a bit disheartening these days when an arcade will have one or two machines compared to 487 digital games, I’ve often explained to friends that it’s the organic realness of the game that is of such appeal.
      It’s just as you say…in pinball it’s a real ball that you’re controlling in real time & making real-life reactions occur on the playfield, rather than a largely pre-ordained set of actions & levels; of course, as with a video game, you’re trying to achieve certain goals, but it’s that realness factor that makes all the difference!
      Show me a one-dimensional video game that can compare to the thrill of real-life multiball…I still remember the Judge Dredd machine that had an 8-ball multiball – the exhilaration!! 🤩

    • MrLem says:

      So you haven’t played a machine made after 1990? Yes you can play for points but most modern pins are mode based where you play different scenarios that build up to something bigger. There’s what are called mini-wizard modes when you complete a certain number of tasks, then there is the final wizard mode that you get when you complete “all” tasks.

  20. We The Animals says:

    Yo pb machines are *lit* af

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