Ideas as Pinball Machines

by James La Trobe-Bateman on May 20, 2019
pinball impact

Funny how games are often a mirror of life in some way.

I’ve been thinking about the arcade game where you launch a ball up. It hits bumpers and other gadgets that bounce it around, each bounce increasing your score.  Then the ball drops towards the flippers.  Now it’s your chance to hit the ball back up and it bounces around again.  Until, the ball drops between the flippers and there’s no saving it. End of game. Unless you scored enough to get a replay.

Think of the ball as an idea, or your contribution to the world. What does it impact? How valuable is that impact? What other impacts happen as a result of that first impact?  How valuable are they? Where does the idea come back to you so that you can put it back into play?  And have further impact?

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to work at this and become a ‘Pinball Wizard’?

We had one of these games in my college. I watched people who were good at playing it.  They seemed to get engrossed.  They would get hold of the whole machine and shake and nudge at all the right moments to boost their score.  There was no apparent logic to it, they just ‘felt’ their way to do the best thing. Do they really “play by intuition” as The Who famously sang? Totally in tune with the action and grooving with it.

It all starts with the first pull on the pinball.  The power of that first burst Is important, but not as important as what follows.  And you have no way of predicting what is going to happen. You might score nothing: so that idea is a dud. 

Or, you might have a small idea that you stay with, follow wherever it goes, watch it morph along the way…and score a record score.

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