Pin­ning his pas­sion on retro gam­ing

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By DUBBY HENRY

When he was a teenager Clive Pedersen dreamed of own­ing his own gam­ing ar­cade some day.

His plans were thwarted but the Franklin man has man­aged the next best thing – 32 func­tion­ing pin­ball machines are crammed into his garage.

His col­lec­tion started out in­no­cently enough in the late 1990s when he and his wife Sarn­dra had a spare room and no kids.

She did not ob­ject to the pur­chase of one pin­ball ma­chine for about $300.

‘‘I got one. It turned into two and then it turned into three and the search was on. I knew when it got to two that it wasn’t go­ing to stop,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s turned ob­ses­sion.’’

When video games came on the mar­ket in the 1980s, pin­ball sales plum­meted so mak­ers started adding spe­cial features like ramps, mul­tiball op­tions and an­i­ma­tion to draw in the crowds.

Those games were more chal­leng­ing but they also cost more and new games with all the bells and whis­tles now sell for up to $15,000.

It is the older ver­sions Mr Pedersen loves the most, with their sin­gle balls, big flip­pers and pop cul­ture art­work.

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Iron­i­cally the col­lec­tor says he has never been very good at pin­ball – but that adds to the ap­peal.

‘‘If I was to prac­tise and be­come really good it would take a lot of the fun out of it,’’ he says.

His col­lec­tion is now worth more than $80,000 but he avoids dip­ping into the fam­ily bank ac­count to buy new games, in­stead sell­ing parts and fix­ing machines with a like­minded friend to fund the hobby.

‘‘If we fell on hard times we’d have to start sell­ing but I’d hate to do it,’’ he says.

‘‘Ev­ery time I’ve thought of thin­ning my col­lec­tion I’ve spent an hour think­ing about which ones will go – and then I’m de­pressed for two hours.’’

The cou­ple’s three chil­dren are all pro­fi­cient gamers and both of his daugh­ters beat him when they were just three years old.

His long-suf­fer­ing wife also plays oc­ca­sion­ally but ‘‘she doesn’t have the pas­sion for it’’, he says.

‘‘It’s not ev­ery­one’s cup of tea.

‘‘Some peo­ple bored out of minds.’’

His the­ory is that most women lack the ‘‘man against ma­chine’’ men­tal­ity.

‘‘But any­one can play,’’ he says.

‘‘I heard

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of one guy that had one arm. He bought a ma­chine and had the but­ton moved to the other side.’’

A high pro­por­tion of pin­ball fans are men who work in IT and love clas­sic cars, which he says is ‘‘really weird’’.

‘‘It’s like we grav­i­tate to this stuff.

‘‘But it’s bet­ter than col­lect­ing stamps, right?’’

Mr Pedersen’s lat­est ac­qui­si­tion is a Guns ’ N Roses game which Slash, him­self a pin­ball player, helped de­sign.

Just three more machines would com­plete Mr Pedersen’s dream set but he is hes­i­tant to name his wishlist be­cause he might jinx it.

Fierce bid­ding wars can erupt over machines on Trade Me if it is known that a buyer is af­ter a par­tic­u­lar piece.

New Zealand has sev­eral big pin­ball col­lec­tors, in­clud­ing a Pukekohe man with more than 80 machines, but as retro has come back into fash­ion more buy­ers have ap­peared who want just one ma­chine.

That has dried up the sup­ply although Mr Pedersen reck­ons there are ‘‘still a few out there’’ hid­den in garages.

He says he will buy machines wher­ever they are found, even if they are bro­ken.

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