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Find a Pinball

Tap. Tap. Is this thing on?

Posted Oct. 15, 2010 by Colin O'Brien

Welcome to Find a pinball. A small pet project of mine that's been developing on the side, during evenings, weekends and time away from client work.

As you know if you're interested in the subject, Pinball is no longer the ubiquitous source of entertainment it used to be. Stepping into any bar would just about guarantee spotting a high-score display blinking alluringly at you from a corner.

Nowadays, with only a single manufacturer left and the closing down of many locations, finding a place to play is more a question of luck or hearsay than anything else.

However, the pinballs are still out there and the people who want to play them too.

I know that when a friend tells me he spotted a game somewhere I'll head over there and drop a few credits in, and I'm certainly not the only one.

So how do you find these places? There are lists online, I found some of them, mostly focusing on specific regions or cities, many no longer updated and left to die. The main reason for these abandonments seem to be their need for manual updates, usually by a single person.

With this in mind, I decided I would build something that could be edited by the community itself. Initially, I was planning on making it local, but once the technology is there, it's no great leap to expand it to the rest of the world, so that's what I did.

As it stands, the basics are in place but there's much more functionality planned (baby steps…).

A mobile version that uses geolocation is in the works, using your phone's GPS to pinpoint the closest pinballs; an early iPhone application is also being tested right now.

Obviously, as the site just launched, the database is practically empty at the moment. I'm hoping you'll all help change that.

If you want to see what it looks like, try searching for Brussels, Belgium, that's the richest area at the moment.

There are still a few code and design bugs that need ironing out and any feedback you have is greatly appreciated. There are also issues on what data to collect (opening hours? phone numbers? etc) and how to input search data. For example: how do you get the state or county for countries that use them? At the moment, you have to enter them freeform, but that may change.

Photo uploads need improving etc etc. As always, suggestions are welcome.

Please also note that this site is built with recent standards-compliant browsers in mind. It will work on older browsers, but won't look or feel as good. If it looks downright odd, you're probably using an old version of Internet Explorer and, unless you're forced to use it, you might like to switch for a better experience.

Colin