MAKING PINBALL COOL
Date: 3rd May, 2014
Report by David Dahl-Hansson
The Silver Ball Planet is a new pinball arcade located in Big Step Mall in Osaka, Japan. Osaka is the second largest city in Japan and the arcade is located in the part of town known as Amemura (America Town).
This part of town is the fashion district. It is analogous to the famous Harajuku in Tokyo and is overrun by hipsters, cosplayers, and the tourists who come to gawk at them. It is also filled with trendy clothing stores, record shops, hip restaurants and cafes, and one world-class pinball arcade.
In their efforts to promote pinball, the Silver Ball Planet recently commissioned Japanese street/pop artist Buggy to live paint a piece to hang over the reception desk in their entryway.
They promoted the event for weeks and on the day they set Buggy up on the landing of the main staircase along with a DJ booth and a Kiss pinball machine. The stairs in front of the landing function as bleachers and Big Step often hold special events here.
Buggy then painted off and on between 1pm and 6pm. Hundreds of people sat and watched him paint and hundreds more played pinball throughout the day.
The four machines above the bleachers (Shrek, Spider-Man, AC/DC, and Metallica) were in constant demand throughout the day as all manner of people from young children, to hipsters, the elderly, and everyone in between gave pinball a go, many playing pinball for the very first time.
Playing pinball at this event is one of my greatest pinball memories. To play in a public venue, in the sun with a light breeze blowing, surrounded by hundreds of Japanese people, while a DJ played tunes and a renowned artist painted was a surreal experience. This is how cool pinball should be. This is how public pinball should be. This is how pinball should be promoted.
Just as many a barcade owner in America is discovering that pinball can be trendy and an activity for hipsters that is akin to collecting vinyl, SBP is clearly trying to tap into this market in achingly hip Amemura.
Hipsters are of course a fickle bunch as this week’s ironic moustache quickly turns into next week’s ironic Nintendo cartridge collection, but some of these new converts are bound to remain faithful regardless of where the herd migrates. This will ultimately be great for our hobby in the short and long term.
© Pinball News 2014