I’m back with another round of “Amateur Tips” – advice for novices and from a novice. Today’s installment is all about pinball etiquette. It’s easy to commit a faux pas when you are new to the world of competitive pinball. Fortunately, PAPA’s Player’s Guide to Competition Play is a wealth of information for the new player and contains a whole section on etiquette. It’s important to note, however, that local customs may vary. With that in mind I will help you understand how each of the etiquette rules is interpreted here in the Lansing Pinball League.
PAPA on swearing: “If you must swear to relieve tension, excuse yourself to a private location or do so under your breath.”
Lansing version: Try to limit yourself to one f-word per game. Use them judiciously; they are best reserved for cases of total bullshit. If you find yourself inclined to swear too often, consider alternatives such as kicking Tekken or writing something dirty about TotAN on the restroom wall.
PAPA on wandering off: “If you must leave mid-game for any reason, even temporarily to use the rest room, inform the tournament director prior to leaving. Leaving without telling anyone, expecting them to wait for you without knowing when you will return, is discourteous to the other players… PAPA rules allow three minutes for the player to return before the tournament director will plunge the ball in question…”
Lansing version: Avoid going to the bar to get your fifth PBR when there’s a big line. Instead, make the league organizer go get it for you. If you’re waiting for a player to return to his or her game more than three minutes, use the additional time to draw an insulting caricature of the absent player and stick it on the backglass.
PAPA on trash talking: “Rooting for particular players is a fun by-product of competition. Don’t hesitate to cheer for your favorite player, but keep any negative comments within the bounds of good taste. There is no need to disparage other players or openly root against them.”
Lansing version: We believe in trash talking only the people who we know can take it. That way it’s as fun and as harmless as shooting a duck with a squirt gun. Note: if someone has won a previous season, that is considered very strong evidence that he can take it.
PAPA on waiting after a tilt: “Waiting for a tilt mechanism to settle is allowed. If the amount of time you plan on waiting is significantly longer than normal for any reason, please explain your situation to the tournament director so he or she may inform the other competitors in your group of the reason for delay.”
Lansing version: Feel free to stand there petting the machine to calm it down for 30 seconds after some ruffian has tilted. If you plan to wait significantly longer than that, we will have Joseph explain pendulum physics to you.
PAPA on cleanliness: “Clean your hands often, especially after eating or using the rest room. All players are forced to touch the same flipper buttons, and all players should work collectively toward cleanliness. ”
Lansing version: Make a point of rubbing the sweat and pickled egg brine off your hands before starting. In a pinch you can use your jeans for this. Better yet, go wash your hands; think of it as an opportunity to read the latest anti-hipster diatribes in the women’s room. (That’s if you’re a woman. Joseph tells me that the men’s restroom walls do not reach quite that level of erudition.)
I hope this translation of PAPA’s etiquette advice will help you settle in to our happy little league. The next league night is coming up on Tuesday; I hope to see everyone on his or her best behavior then!