Raymond Davidson, 24, has been playing pinball since he was 5 years old, starting on an old machine at his grandparents' house and learning the basics from his dad. He continued playing pinball "in the wild" throughout his childhood, and around sixth grade, his dad brought home the pirate-themed Black Rose, a machine he used to hone his skills and still owns today. Davidson recently returned from winning first place at the International Flipper Pinball Association world championship in Denmark.
Not many people your age seem like they'd be into pinball...
You'd be surprised how much of the younger crowd is taking to pinball these days. I think a large part of this is the rise of the arcade bar, in which twentysomethings go to the bar and see pinball for the first time and immediately get hooked. It is odd for someone my age to be as dedicated, though—I travel nationally (and now internationally!) to compete in top-tier events. I got hooked on pinball growing up, and once I found out there were tournaments, I never wanted to stop getting better.
What are some of your all-time favorite pinball games?
I really enjoy some of the newer games with deep rule sets, with my favorite of all time being The Simpsons Pinball Party, because it has like a 10-page rule set with all sorts of deep, interesting strategy and every game plays out very differently.
Where are your favorite places to play?
Full Tilt in Ballard is my favorite place. It's great because they have a large selection and the machines play excellent. The operator of the games makes sure to keep them in proper working order and takes the time to make sure a game plays the way it should before putting it out (very attentive to detail, such as flipper alignment, shots working how they should, and other small things that add up).
Aside from Full Tilt, I think places like 8-Bit Arcade in Renton and Add-a-Ball in Fremont are great options for bringing new people into pinball. They both have a ridiculous selection of games, so you can always find a game you like.