Travis Johnson, of Lismore, has competed in a pinball marathon, known as Death by Pinball - a 24 hour competition in Brisbane.
Travis Johnson, of Lismore, has competed in a pinball marathon, known as Death by Pinball - a 24 hour competition in Brisbane. Marc Stapelberg

Pinball wizard proves comeback of the sport

THERE'S an art to the old school pinball game, which takes about 80 per cent skill and 20 per cent luck according to Lismore man Travis Johnson.

The 28-year-old has been playing for around three years after some friends introduced him, and now he travels as far as Melbourne to play in tournaments.

He bends slightly over the machine resting on his arms with a concentrated face, bouncing the ball delicately between the flippers, before sending it high up the playing field.

Each hit generates a flurry of electronic noises and flashing lights which for some could be a fun and distracting mess but for Travis, each is a clue to the timing of his next move.

"I played in three competitions in Melbourne last week, one at a pub with about 27 people, another one at a convention with about 70 people," he said.

"I probably play competitively twice a month.

"I've also been to Newcastle, Sydney, Brisbane, and head to Tweed Heads two to three times a month."

Travis won The Cooly Rocks On Pinball Challenge last year.

He's also competed in a pinball marathon, known as Death by Pinball - a 24 hour competition in Brisbane.

It's an event that separates the pinball wizards from the pinball muggles, and those talented at mashing buttons from the folks that are happy when they get flipping lucky.

The last event attracted up to 40 people, and Travis said it is a workout for the thumbs but he managed to stay awake for the event.

It takes some serious concentration he said, with the aim to get the highest score, "no matter how long it takes".

"There's also fun events like two people playing the one machine.

"People come from America to play here.

"I like the history, I like the art. The machines have changed over the years, I've played one from 1932 that didn't have flippers. They were all mechanical...there was no electronics."

Travis said he'd like to see more of a scene in the Northern Rivers, and hopes to one day compete overseas.

Travis' hot tip - "don't double flip and press both button's at the same time."



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