By Sandra McNeill

ROCHESTER (WWJ) – It’s old-fashioned family fun and it’s on offer beginning Thursday night. As WWJ’s Sandra McNeill reports, a pinball expo gets underway on the campus of Oakland University where you can play, buy and even win $15,000 in cash and prizes.

John Kosmal, director of the Michigan Pinball Expo, said most kids only know the game from I-Pads and computers these days, but it’s not the same as the real live machines.

“Pinball is kind of like chess or video games or checkers, you know, video games are patterns of left to right one player shooters, where pinball machines have their own little storylines inside the game. And because it’s a 3D physical object with a bunch of geometry, no two games are ever the same, so you don’t get a lot of repetition,” said Kosmal.

The games, however, do require a little bit of skill. And you’ll have plenty of machines to choose from at the expo, because there will be more than 125 games there.

“They’re just basically two buttons but there’s different ways to push a button. You can push it hard, and the ball will go a little bit harder, you can let it go and actually drop catch the ball, you can do a little tap on the button and it will pass the ball over, so there’s a bunch of little ways to manipulate the buttons.”

It’s not just a hobby either, Kosmal said pinball is a sport. And if you really want to test your pinball skills, you can enter a tournament where the highest score nets the winner $15,000 in cash and prizes.

“There’s definitely exercise involved, I mean, you can break a sweat while playing pinball. Again, it’s a 300 pound box so when you start nudging and jostling it around, it’s a work out,”

The show runs from 8 a.m. to midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and then 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Oakland Center on the Oakland University campus. Admission is $15 adults and $12 for kids — you can then play for free.

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