I've been meaning to ask a question concerning actual real-life pinball machines, but also emulated in some digitized versions such as FarSight's Pinball Arcade. More specifically, the purpose of the loud bang when a replay is awarded. Would this question be on topic in Gaming SE?

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    Real pinball isn't a video game, so I would say not. As for your specific example, definitely not -- a sound effect is for ... effect. Anything else would be speculation, so it's either Not a Real Question or Not Constructive. – Matthew Read Apr 11 '12 at 5:40
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    Given this site's audience is video gamers, an on-topic answer would be "the sound's like that in FarSight's Pinball Arcade because that's what real pinball machines do." Which isn't very satisfying: you'd want to ask people who are experts in game machines why real pinball machines work that way. – user3389 Apr 11 '12 at 8:04
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    Regardless of whether pinball is on-topic or not, questions of "Why did they design it this way" are not. – bwarner Apr 13 '12 at 17:02
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    If pinball machines are off-topic, anyone have any suggestions about where to ask questions about pinball machines? – Mars Oct 25 '17 at 22:12

Questions about real-life pinball machines should be off-topic; I do not consider them as video games, and I think most people don't, either.

Questions about a pinball video game should be on-topic - it's true they are inspired by real-life games but so are many other games and genres.

The question is what to do with games which aim for perfect emulation of a real-life game, such as the one you are describing. This has been discussed before but not in an encompassing way; so I've opened a new question about it to include your specific case as well as others that have been mentioned before:

What do we do about video games which are true-to-source emulations of real-life games?

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    TIL I am apparently the only person in the world who considers pinball machines to be video games of a sort. – Shinrai Apr 11 '12 at 20:27
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    @shinrai - You are not alone. – KatieK Apr 13 '12 at 16:15
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    I'm with you shinrai and KatieK. – PileOfDuty Apr 16 '12 at 17:36
  • I've played a Star Wars pinball machine in the '90s and that had video on a matrix display. – Cees Timmerman Jan 26 at 11:56

Consider the following properties of pinball machines:

  • I put quarters into them.
  • They're found in arcades.
  • There's a high score.
  • They require electricity (for all of the blinking lights and displays).
  • Racking up points is mostly a matter of pushing buttons at the appropriate time.

Because pinball machines share so many attributes with arcade and video games, I do consider them video games. I think that questions about real-life pinball machines should be on-topic.

On the topic that pinball machines are reliant on physically manipulated tangible objects, well, so do these:

Lastly, if a requirement of video games is to have moving pixels, consider that most pinball machines have screens to announce high score, and play the "match-for-a-free-game" routine.

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    Your first and second points are hardly relevant, they apply to gumball machines (for example). Points, lights, etc. are all enhancements to the game that can be taken away while the game remains playable and unchanged at its core. The same can't be said for video games. Your argument would make "real life" baseball a video game if they were using an electronic scoreboard and found some way to incorporate button pushing. – Matthew Read Apr 13 '12 at 17:32
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    @Matthew So can you articulate what is the defining characteristic of a video game? You seem to imply above that video games need to have points to be playable, but clearly that isn't what you really mean. – bwarner Apr 14 '12 at 13:06
  • Pins may have things in common with video games, but we could also list a number of other things that share some of these characteristics and are clearly not video games (skee ball, for example); most of the items in your list are not intrinsic properties of pins. Electricity and points are perhaps the only two that are, and those don't completely describe video games. – Dave DuPlantis Apr 16 '12 at 13:20
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    Pinball games often have goals, power-ups (MULTI-BALLLLL), hidden achievements, and announcer commentary. How does that not sound like a video game? There are tons of "how do I get this achievement" and "what does this power-up do" questions on this site. – PileOfDuty Apr 16 '12 at 17:36
  • @DaveDuPlantis - I'd call arcade style skeeball a video game. I have absolutely no trouble seeing how most people would disagree with that, though. – Shinrai Apr 16 '12 at 20:11
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    @Shinrai, there is definitely support for that perspective, but I feel as though that approach is excluding some possible support, as is KatieK's position. Rather than making the claim that other things "are" video games, I wonder if it wouldn't be better to show what those other things have "in common with" video games, and from there explain why they should be grouped together? I suspect that there are some who are opposing the motion to include simply because of the way it's worded. – Dave DuPlantis Apr 17 '12 at 13:39
  • I have made some edits to my answer. If someone would like to write a more "middle of the road" answer, I'd be glad for it! :) – KatieK Apr 17 '12 at 16:00
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    No respect for analog computing – Nick T Apr 20 '12 at 21:21

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