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What Can We Learn from Playing Pinball: 14 Valuable Life Lessons 

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

While it may appear that on face value, pinball is just designed for some quick fun and an easy way to lose your pocket change, pinball also teaches life lessons that we could apply in our daily lives. 

Pinball has many transferable skills and analogies that we can apply to our daily lives. These lessons take the form of the nature of pinball and the design and history of pinball. Thus, while not always apparent, a bit of discovery and thought can help us see these life lessons. 

While the following is not a definitive list, these are fourteen of the most common life lessons/analogies we can learn from pinball:

1. Pinball Teaches The Importance Of Following Through  

When playing pinball, many players recommend pressing down on the flipper button for an extended period after hitting the pinball. Doing so allows you to follow through with your shot, meaning the pinball is likely to travel further and more consistently than if you had just performed a quick shot. 

Like in life, following through with your actions to the end and assessing your results will likely show positive results in a way that doing something quickly and haphazardly does not.

2. Pinball Shows Your Actions Have Consequences  

As a mechanical game that requires one-time kinetic energy to produce results such as hitting the pinball with a flipper or pulling back on the release catch, there is often no way to undo actions and their outcomes in pinball. 

Whether good or bad, you cannot undo your actions’ consequences. Meaning you need to learn how to deal with the outcome and adjust your plans accordingly.

3. Pinball Teaches The Importance Of Planning In Advance 

Unlike beginner players who may think that, at face value, pinball is a simple game that relies on twitch reflexes, seasoned players know that understanding the layouts of different pinball machines and how to maximize scores is essential for success. 

While you can go through life without a plan or strategy, those who choose to strategize in advance often have greater success than those who don’t.

4. Pinball Teaches Players How To Make Quick Decisions  

Despite the importance of planning, pinball is a fast and chaotic game that requires quick reflexes and thinking to mitigate any risks of lost balls. Thus, pinball teaches us that you sometimes need to make quick decisions to realign or change your strategies. 

Furthermore, making quick, intelligent decisions does not come to players automatically but requires hours of diligent practice.

5. Pinball Teaches Players How To Remain Calm 

Pinball machines are designed to have loud music, frantic sounds, haptic feedback, and flashing lights. Although this may seem like enticing players to play a pinball machine, it is also a method pinball machines use to create a more chaotic experience and apply pressure on a player during crucial moments. 

Consequently, when you are met with distractions and stresses, it is essential to keep calm to push through the noise and reach your goals. Not doing so may result in you becoming “tilted” and losing your progress!

6. Pinball Teaches Players How To Learn From Mistakes  

Because there is no end screen or overall objective to pinball, other than getting the highest score, all pinball games will end the same way, namely that a player loses all their balls and gets met with a game over screen. 

Failure is an inevitable part of pinball, which is likely due to the player losing concentration and/or making a mistake. Thus, the best way to get better at pinball, survive longer, and achieve higher scores is to learn from your mistakes.

7. Pinball Teaches Persistence And Patience

Because there is no end goal to pinball, making it a game of survival, the best players are those that can play and survive longer than others. Being patient and persistent is a guaranteed method of improving one’s score and pinball skills. 

These transferable skills of patience and persistence teach people the importance of hard work and not to expect insistent gratification/success.

8. Pinball Teaches You How To Be More Aware/Vigilant

Playing pinball requires players to understand the machine’s layout and the ball’s placement in relation to the flippers, bumpers, etc. Therefore, spatial awareness is essential for players to be successful in pinball. 

Thus, pinball teaches people the importance of being aware of their surroundings and taking stock of their resources and opportunities.

9. Pinball Teaches Players That Practice Makes Perfect 

As one of the oldest arcade/carnival games globally, people have spent years honing their skills and slowly improving their pinball scores. Thus while pinball on face value may seem like luck with continued practice and understanding, it is easy to see the skills needed to be good at pinball. 

In conclusion, pinball teaches people the importance of the adage “practice makes perfect.”

10. Pinball Shows The Dangers Of Doing Too Much At Once 

A common feature of modern pinball machines is the “multiball” bonus. Multiball is when a pinball machine rewards players with multiple balls that can hit several targets at once, improving one’s score quickly. 

However, the multiball bonus requires keeping multiple balls alive at once, meaning that it can be challenging to track their movements. Thus, while pinball teaches us the benefits of engaging in numerous activities at once, it also shows us the delicate risk-reward balancing act of trying to do too many things simultaneously.

11. Pinball Shows The Importance Of Luck  

While there is a lot of skill in pinball, there is also a fair bit of luck that can have negative and positive consequences. Although you shouldn’t rely on good luck to improve your score or blame bad luck for your losses, one needs to accept these elements of pinball. 

Similarly, while you shouldn’t rely on luck to determine your position in life, you should appreciate good fortune and learn to accept and move past bad luck.

12. Pinball Shows Players The Importance Of Evolving   

Because pinball machines are some of the oldest machines one would find at an arcade or carnival, they have faced competition from multiple modern arcade games such as redemption games or video game cabinets. 

Therefore, pinball manufacturers have had to improve and redesign their machines to change with the times to remain relevant. Consequently, most pinball machines combine electronic and mechanical engineering while featuring themed layouts to mirror popular culture. 

In conclusion, pinball machines have remained relevant thanks to their ability to change and evolve. Thus, it is crucial to make life changes and keep improving oneself.  

13. Pinball Encourages And Promotes Creativity  

Similar to lesson twelve above is how the best pinball machines are those that can entice players with unique mechanics, exciting decals, and creative layouts. Therefore, while hard skills are essential, allowing your creative side to flourish is vital.

Creative expression is an excellent method of communicating with others and understanding yourself, but it is also often an avenue for greater commercial success!

14. Pinball Encourages Players To Relax And Have Fun! 

Finally, pinball teaches us the importance of just relaxing and enjoying oneself on occasion. Although it is vital to remain focused on work and other “productive” activities, taking a break and recharging is essential for operating at peak performance! 

In short, pinball is a fun, accessible, lifelong hobby that can teach people valuable lessons!

Last Word

Pinball’s design as a solo game with no definitive end or clear objectives is a clear analogy to our daily lives. Therefore, some of the best skills and lessons we can apply to our daily lives include hard work, patience, persistence, creativity, and adaptability.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.