Over at Colossal I spotted something seriously rad that took one of my favorite arcade games to a whole new level. Netherlands-based graduate student Sam van Doorn modified parts to an old pinball machine to create his own tool for design. The machine uses standard flippers to control an inked-up pinball as it’s flung across the game board. For each use, temporary poster paper with a printed grid with light blue ink is placed over the game board to record each user’s progress.
Sam calls his modified pinball machine “STYN” and of it he says:
STYN is an installation I build for my graduation. I have always been interested in building my own tools in design. In a time of digitalization of the work proces, you can easily forget the freedom and fun of play. By creating new tools, you give yourself the opportunity to break free from standards in design. As result of this idea I deconstructed a pinball machine an reconstructed it as a design tool.
Originality is something to be admirable of, especially when people seem to think it’s so scarce these days. Not only is Sam’s design one-of-a-kind, but each drawing it churns out is completely original as well, dependent upon the abilities of the pinball player. The machine makes it possible to chart the unpredictable movement of the pinball, recording the physics of the chaos we normally register through blinking lights and abrasive tinker noises. The machine measures users’ skills not through high scores, but through the ability to stay in the game as long as possible. The better one is at playing pinball, the longer you’re able to play, and therefore create a more complex pinball drawing than those who can only get a few ink strokes in before the ball disappears from the game board.
I suppose it’s time to polish those motor skills, eh folks? I wonder if STYN takes quarters…