"Jersey" Jack Guarnieri Gets It

"Jersey" Jack Guarnieri Gets It
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"Jersey" Jack Guarnieri Gets It
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"Jersey" Jack Guarnieri Gets It
Published on
January 12, 2024
Updated on
January 12, 2024
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This is something that would normally be shared in a weekly TWIP update, but since I'm still working on moving some of those pieces around and getting TWIP set up on a new platform, it's going to go here for now!

And on that front for those of you who are curious - I hope to have the bulk of that work more or less complete in the coming weeks. Regular This Week in Pinball readers will find a large majority of the site's historic content now on Kineticist. Things like interviews, game reveals, and educational content. Most of the news style content that's a little more ephemeral will be migrated to the new TWIP platform, which is where I plan to resume the regular weekly updates. Since Kineticist is becoming quite large in scope, I always recommend using the search function if you ever have trouble finding something you're looking for.

This week we welcomed back The Super Awesome Pinball Show to the pinball media scene after they took a year-long hiatus from pinball podcasting. The episode released this week was part one of a two part 2023 review special, featuring interviews with industry players like George Gomez, David Van Es, Jack Guarnieri, David Fix, Bug Emery, Josh Sharpe and Barry Driessen.

There's no indication that The Super Awesome Pinball Show will be back with any sort of regular cadence, but it was nice to hear the trio of Christopher Franchi, Jeff Parsons and Christian Line (Dr. Pin) on the mic again. They have a natural friendly banter that's both entertaining and oddly comforting (Jeff's radio voice helps). And it's interesting getting a mix of industry insider and hobbyist perspectives on the scene.

There's a lot of good information in this particular episode, including interviews with David Van Es and David Fix and what amounts to a light interview with Christopher Franchi at the start. The idea to have manufacturers complete a "self-review" of sorts was quite fun and I thought was a good way to surface some candid responses from everyone.

I would encourage everyone to listen to the whole thing, but what really caught my ear was a passage from the interview with "Jersey" Jack Guarnieri, which I've transcribed and copied below.

Some of you have been along for the ride over the last few months so will have some deeper insight into why this particular section resonated with me personally, but even if you haven't necessarily been keeping close tabs on everything, I think the gist of his point is largely universal. If you're trying to be a part of the larger pinball community, try to be a positive ambassador for pinball. Pinball is an extremely niche hobby, and the only way it continues to grow is if it continues to be a place where people feel welcomed and encouraged to participate. As Jack states, good, healthy criticisms of something like a game release is ultimately productive for everyone (and fun to talk about). But at the end of the day, treat people with kindness, with respect, and try to make a positive impact on the world and the pinball community.

Life is already difficult and stressful enough - pinball shouldn't be contributing to that for anyone.

Again, listen to the full episode! But this is quoted from a section of the Jersey Jack interview that starts around the 1:40 mark.

Passage from an Interview with Jack Guarnieri

SAPS (Jeff Parsons): “Jack, what do you think pinball needs to attract a wider margin of gamers? I think you talked a little bit about this, but can you expand a bit?“

Jack Guarnieri: “It's come a long way in these last few years. It really has. You have a variety of companies making games at different price points and you need people to be, I think you need people to be pinball ambassadors all the time.

I think the negativity that's in the world and the rush to instant gratification and rush to criticize things right away, it's really heightened in a lot of different parts of our lives. And we really don't need to bring that into pinball. When somebody releases a new game, there are a lot of criticism of it, whatever it is, the theme, colors, artwork and all that stuff. And that's fine. That's good, healthy criticism and opinions and everybody has an opinion. But consider that there are people at work, at companies all around the industry and their livelihoods depend on success of those products.

And think about what have you done in your life that you have that you can criticize somebody else's work and time and effort and energy and money that they're putting into something.

It wouldn't be good if there were no pinball companies. Would that make everybody happy?

Maybe people would say, 'Wow, my game's going to go way up now because the artist died and my picture is worth more money because the artist can't paint anymore.'

I would just say a little more positivity. Like I said before, my blood type's B positive, so I can't be negative. A little bit more positivity, a little bit more happiness, treat each other a little bit better with more kindness and try to do something good.

I try to mix things that we do with charities and with our pinball machines. I'm going to a concert tomorrow night at the Count Basie and Mark Tremonti is going to be there singing Sinatra. And Mark has told Challenge for Down Syndrome all the money from the show and everything and we donated a game to them too to be used to auction off or whatever they want to do with it. If we all do a little bit, it makes it a lot easier for everybody.

I think that's the way we could spread the word of pinball. Pinball is fun, it's positive.

Imagine being somebody that doesn't know anything about it and they fall into one of these groups and they start reading some of the posts in the group. They don't want to be part of that. Get out of here, I'm walking into a ballroom fight, I'm going to get punched in the left side, punched in the right side.”

SAPS (unknown voice): “I’m in a hornet's nest, ahhh!”

Jack Guarnieri: “Well, you know, it's something to think about. But I think we're on the right path though.

I think there's a lot of choices for people and there's a lot of places to get games and I certainly hope that you get your Jersey Jack games and have fun.”