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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

3 Comments

  1. Froborr
    January 20, 2016 @ 6:31 am

    Man, I really miss the Pinball Museum. I spent so much time on their ST:TNG machine! It really is a fantastic experience, even for someone as terrible at pinball as me.

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  2. Ross
    January 20, 2016 @ 12:09 pm

    That said, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the tacit capitalist undertones implicit in arcade gaming: Namely, being a coin-op cabinet sort of requires the machine to make money off of players, and the way many of them do this is by employing the same trick as gambling casinos: Manipulating addiction cycles to get people hooked so they'll keep pumping money into the slot until they get a new high score or advance past that tricky level that's been stumping them so they can finally “beat” the game.

    Not to mention that the pinball machine evolved directly from flipperless machines that were basically an attempt to make a slot machine that could weasel around anti-gambling laws.

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  3. jsd
    January 22, 2016 @ 5:50 am

    I play in a competitive pinball league and we have a TNG table at our local haunt. It really is a fantastic example of the genre. One thing I love is that when you lose your ball you often get a snarky quip. For instance, Data will say "had you propelled the ball on the proper trajectory, you would have been rewarded." If you hit both flipper buttons while he's speaking, Picard will cut him off with a curt "Thank you, Mr. Data", and you get 10 million points. The game is full of little touches like that that let you know it was made by fans who really appreciated the chance to play with their favorite property.

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