ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — It might be in an arcade, but pinball is more than just a game to some.
The “Rally at the Alley” tournament took place in Rockford on Sunday, and many competitors talked about the community’s passion for pinball.
“Very exciting, because the pinball community in Rockford just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” said Connie Carlson, league manager for Rockford Pinball.
While pinball has been around for over a hundred years, it has recently seen increased popularity in the Rockford region.
“It really caught fire here in the last 20, 12 to 24 months,” said Nick Naruz, founder of Rockford Pinball. “It’s really grown.”
While Sunday’s event was a tournament, the real prize was sharing the love of pinball with other players.
“When we get these guys together, everyone talks the same way, you know, about the machines and stuff,” Carlson said. “We’re a bunch of nerds when it comes to pinball, but what’s nice, is we all have different backgrounds, all different ages. It’s just a fun machine to play.”
“Really, it’s just about fun and the community,” Naruz added. “Obviously, everyone kinda knows everybody. There will be a lot of newbies but it’s always fun to see your friends every couple weeks.”
For Carlson, pinball has been an almost lifelong love.
“I started out here at CherryVale Mall playing at ‘Aladin’s Castle,'” she said. “First pinball machine that really grabbed me was ‘Black Knight 2000.’ I do now own one of those.”
While the tournament was about putting up the biggest score, Naruz said that the real fun was just sharing the love of pinball with friends.
“I come to beat my friends. Just like playing videogames, you play against your buddies,” he said. “Sometimes they beat you, sometimes you beat them. That rivalry and that comradery, that friendship, that fun is what brings the tournaments and makes the tournaments a lot of fun.”
The next tournament is on March 19.