FGW in the news!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Supervisors push to revise laws regulating arcade gaming

Posted by  on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 4:00 AM

click to enlargeFree Gold Watch
  • MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Pinball machine owner Shon Dolcini plays pinball at the Free Gold Watch silk-screen shop in the Upper Haight.
The decision by an Upper Haight silk-screen business to put pinball machines in unused spaces has created a vibrant gaming site. But talk about a gutter ball: city laws do not allow it — although efforts are underway to change those laws some say are meant for a bygone era.

In the 1980s, as games such as “Pac-Man” and “Asteroids” created a generation of arcade machine addicts, San Francisco cracked down on the behavior, citing concerns ranging from sidewalk congestion to “petty crimes in the vicinity of these machines.”

As gaming has gone mobile in recent years, migrating to the smartphone, arcade machines have become relics, and some lawmakers say so have the laws regulating them.

San Francisco does not allow more than 10 arcade machines per location, and the exact amount is tied to a business’ square footage. That law could threaten the gaming craze at Free Gold Watch, a silk-screen print shop at 1767 Waller St. that opened in May 2007.

Business owner Matthew Henri, 35, initially put a few arcade machines inside the store to help draw more foot traffic and added more after they proved popular. Today, hundreds come each week to play pinball or other games, some stopping in on a regular basis after work for about 20 minutes of gaming. A pinball league has even been established.

While Henri’s inventory has grown to 34 machines, existing city law only allows for six, basd on the size of the site. Supervisor London Breed is hoping to change that. Today, the Board of Supervisors will vote on legislation that would exempt the business from the current square-footage requirement.

Supervisor Scott Wiener has also joined the effort and proposed lifting the requirement for the Upper Market Neighborhood Commercial Transit District, where owners of the Blackbird bar at 2200 Market St. plan to have vintage pinball machines.

But additional measures are still being sought to address the limit of 10 arcade machines. Breed and Wiener are working on subsequent legislation that would amend the police code to allow for more than 10 machines at locations throughout The City.

Henri said he hopes San Francisco will embrace the culture of arcades as has been done in Seattle and Portland, Ore. For Henri, the gaming business is about the community that grows up around it, not the bottom line.

“We don’t pay our rent in quarters over here,” Henri said.

Any business that uses what is known as a mechanical amusement device must obtain a permit from the Entertainment Commission. The initial application costs $744 and annual permit renewal costs $297. There are currently permits for such devices in 81 city locations.


Round 8


-Hello good sir, I would like to renew my membership in the SFPD please.
-Why, that's as simple as paying 20 bucks and making sure we have your email address! 
-Oh shoot, I spent all my money on fireworks and postcards. What am I to do?
-Not to worry, you have until July 15th to remain in good standings.
-Fabulous!
-Indeed.*
*Not a real conversation.





Eight is great!

Round 8 brought in 66 players on a beautiful Wednesday evening. Jeremy had just set up his newest acquisition, Stern's Star Trek, henceforth known as Trek. It plays beautifully and it didn't take long for our members to start posting their high scores. Gene X, our resident photographer celebrated his birthday with a win in Oakland on Tuesday, and brought in friends to help him celebrate.  

James had the best round of the evening with a perfect 20+2, which propelled him up in the standings. Andrei had a good round of 19 along with Ryan H who killed it on AFM. It's a tough race around the 48th spot (which qualifies you for the postseason) right now with 10 players within 5 points of each other vying for 5 spots.

















Round 7

Good times at the Watch! 

Round 7 saw 69 players duke it out on 16 machines that included the new WHO Dunnit & Centaur. Just home from Pinburgh, Andrei showed why he is a world class player and tallied a perfect 18+3 in a 3-player group. He thereby regained the lead in the standings. Other good scores were brought home by Jeremy & Josh (19 apiece), and Anthony Rocco with 18. 

The race for top 8 is very tight, with 10 players within 4 points of each other jousting for 6 spots right now. No one is safe though, and it can all change very rapidly! Remember that the top 8 players get an automatic berth into the playoffs, while players ranked 9-48 will be competing for the other 8 spots. For more details go to the rules section.



Masha is handling it!











Round 6



Let them eat cake! Thanks Masha!!


Round 6 brought in 64 members evenly divided in 16 groups of 4. A perfect number of sorts. Just as perfect, or more, was Tony. His 20+3 points was top notch, and propelled him up in the standings. Darren had a perfect 20, and Mickey tallied his second straight Black Jack. Devon had a strong performance with 19 points. 

Pinburgh is coming up next week, and several SFPD members are going to Pittsburgh to take part in this massive event. If you're not familiar with it, go here for more info. 

See you on April 2nd!



IMO one of Steve Ritchie's top 3 machines. 

Tony! Tony! Tony!


Andy, Ted & Matt T. Is that a can ON the table? Let's hope Shon didn't see it!


Hi Chris!


Get your Pong car here!


The new favorite corner at FGW.




Round 5




















Nice sling shot. Nothing can keep Vanessa away from league night.




Round 4

Back after the break, the SFPD is still going strong. Matt shared the good news from the City Hall hearing from the night before. The entertaining video from the hearing can be seen here. Little did one know how enthusiastic the board members would be about pinball.

76 players showed up for what turned out to be a round with plenty of high scores. Chris H and Andrei shared the honors of best in show with 23 points each. Not far behind with 21 points came Matt W. A guest, Devin S from Canada/Australia/Japan took home a perfect 20. Jeremy managed to get 19 points, while South Bay tournament organizer Masha and Richard L got 18 points each.

There will be 2 tournaments at FGW in the coming week. See Shoot Again for details.


Mr. Richards doesn't like what he is reiding...


The acronym sheet - it's what the people want yo!


FGW and the SFPD. What better way to spend an evening is there? It even beats going to the DMV on Valentine's Day.



Autumn is doing the right thing. Sign the petition to keep FreeGoldWatch open as a pinball haven in the City.




Ryan: Whoa, is that move even allowed?    
Jeff: We could always sue you know.



Vanessa, one of the corner stones of FGW.



Matt W & Helene checking out the skills of Christel.



Matt & Leann, thanks for keeping this place open! The SFPD wouldn't be what it is today without your support.

Round 3

Another fun evening with the SFPD took place, with 72 eager pinballers from the City & beyond. Reid brought in a friend to spin records, and on a personal note, I think New Orleans funk makes playing pin even more awesome. Thanks DJ!

Rob C had a perfect 20 (+1) for the night, and could be seen in the wee hours still playing pin, riding his high. Chris L also had a great performance with 20 points, including 2 high scores. Head official Darren had a busy night making sure everybody got their games in since a few of them went down. That didn't slow him down a bit, and he came away with 18 points. Right behind him with 17 points apiece came Andreas and Jon D. Well played boys!

The league takes a 3 week break now, but will resume on February 19th. 

Until then, keep flipping.



Round 2

The PAPA Circuit Champion belt made an appearance, as well as Anastasia & Mark Steinman from the PAPA headquarters.


Mark is traveling the country in search for gaming personalities. And he is OK with winter in California.

Round 2 set the record (again) for number of players, with 74 pinballers taking part. We had 4 guest players, out of which one deserves special mention. Bowen Kerins, 5-time World Pinball Champion, and author of the book "Cradle Separation -Tales of a Tiger Dad", came for a visit and took home 23 points on a near perfect evening. Mark Steinman stopped by on his trek across America and shot some footage for his PAPA TV Roadshow, which you can follow here.

Other notable scores came from Devon & Jeremy, who tallied 20, and 19 respectively.

Remember that the next round is already on Wednesday Jan. 29th!








Olé!





Round 1


The first round of the 2014 spring league has been played, and a record 72 members showed up for some fun in the Haight. We went with 4 banks, which helped keep things running smoothly. We have already filled up all the spots that are available, but if you want to come and play as a guest, passes are available at $10/night.

The reigning champ, Andrei, picked, as is tradition, his own bank of machines. He apparently chose wisely, because he ended up getting 21 points on the night. (Which is slightly below his average...better luck next time Drei.) Brian O picked up where he left and scored a Black Jack as well. Matt S and Jessica T both had great rounds and picked up a cool 20 points.

See you on Wednesday, 1/22 at 8PM!













Fall Playoffs!


Lights, camera, action! Matt W made it all the way to the finals, where his fellow competitors were: Andrei, Daniel, and James.



Another season is in the bag! We have had such a fun season, with an astounding 79 members participating. Our playoffs and Flip Offs were exciting affairs, with the playoffs even going into overtime. We had the good fortune of having a sizable number of cameras on hand to document the evening, so special thanks goes out to Gene X, Autumn Swisher, and Sig & Co. Check the standings for the complete results. Briefly, here are the top 4 finishers in each tournament.

Playoffs

1. Andrei

2. James

3. Matt W

4. Daniel


Flip Offs

1. Chris H

2. Jeff

3. Gene

4. Jay



An dn ow fo ry ou re nj oy me nt....th ep ic tu re s!



The Sweet 16. Participants in the playoffs were: Top row L-R: Devon, Chris L, Brian, Bryan, Daniel, & Eric. Center row L-R: Jeremy, Andrei, Rob, Matt W, & Matt S. Bottom row L-R: James, Garrett, Per, & Andreas. Photo by Autumn Swisher.


The Next Generation! Top row L-R: Vincent van Gogh (Mickey), Richard L, Matt H, Matt T, Russ, & Scott. Center row L-R: Amber, Jeff, Zac, Chris H, & Gene X. Bottom row L-R: Shon, Anthony, Christel, Ryan, & Jay. Photo by Autumn Swisher.




James' high kicking style earned him 2nd place after a dramatic playoff with Andrei on Demo Man. Both players started with 2 bad balls, but Andrei put up 1 billion on his 3rd. Enter Squires. He had 500 million and museum mb lit when the ball drained. A match to remember for sure.




The first winner of the Ball & Chain trophy: JRS. He came oh so close to repeating.


Thanks to the O'Neills for bringing in their chilled brew for us to enjoy!


Jessica presiding over the awards ceremony. Happy birthday J-RO!


Say Geeeeeeene!

Got bubbles?


Alessandra is trying in vain to hug the video games into submission. Autumn is taking a break from snapping shots. Her work can be seen right here.


Jeff with some well deserved hardware.



Daniel took 4th! He can be seen practicing at FGW most days of the week.


Eric has just handed James his plaque for 2nd place. Awesome performance JRS!



The word on the street is that 2014 will be the year when Chris H will blow up.



We're looking forward to watching your movie Sig!


Allison & Andreas are 2 players to keep an eye on for next season. Beware!


Challisa came in from Vegas bearing baked goods. Great to have you among us even if it's just for the evening!

The winner of the 2013 SFPD fall leauge, Andrei, telling us how much he will enjoy taking home all the trophies. Congrats Dr. Drei!







Round 10



It was Judgement Day at FreeGoldWatch. Who would make it to the playoffs? Who would earn a spot in the Flip Offs? 48 members showed up and had some delicious pizza before diving in to the last round of the regular season. As a reminder, the top 16 players are in the playoffs, and players 17-32 are in the Flip Offs The Next Generation.

Brian O has been playing really well lately, and on the night he was the top scorer with 19 points. He made it all the way up to the 6th seed, which meant that he got to pick one of the playoff machines. He also stated that he'll bring a keg of home brewed beer to the playoffs on Dec. 4th! Bring a glass if that's how you enjoy your brew.

Other notables were Darren & Eric, who earned 17 points each. Darren thereby claimed the coveted 8th seed to earn himself a bye round in the playoffs. He had a busy night doing plenty of officiating as well as playing great pinball. Thanks Sweet D! Echa, Zac & Matt T each took home 16 points. In Matt T's case it meant solidifying his Flip Off spot, and Zac's strong play the last couple of weeks means that he also will play in that tournament.

Rob C took the last playoff spot with only a 1.5 point margin ahead of Chris H. It took 103 points to get in, and that comes to an average of 12.9 points/round over 8 rounds. Andrei earned the top seed with 165 points, with a monster average of 20.6 points/round. How do you think he does it? -I don't know.

Russ laid claim to the last Flip Off spot with 89 points, which comes to an average of 11.1 points. He ousted a cluster of 88-point players including Amber, Vanessa, Erin, & Tim. Tim looked to be a shoo-in, but he had the most house balls ever recorded for a round. Christel had a strong 14-point night, which meant that she leaped into the Flip Offs. Way to be clutch Christel. More than I can say for the Warrior's performance against the Grizzlies... But I digress.

For complete results and standings, go here and here!

Thanks to Vanessa for providing tasty treats and for always being so helpful!

Even if you are not qualified for the play- and Flip Offs, come on down on Dec. 4th to play pin and cheer for the players. If someone doesn't show up, you could be taking their spot!

See you on Wednesday 12/4!




Round 9

Nine down, one to go. For a few rounds now, the attendance has been steady around 55 people. This round was no different, as 56 members showed up to play.

High rollers for the evening were Bryan L & Devon, who each posted a perfect 20 + 1 bonus point. Other notables were Garret & Andrei with 20 apiece, Chris L & Andreas with 18, and Eric with 17 points. Other than Andrei who sits pretty in the 1st spot, all of the aforementioned players needed a good score to improve their chances to secure a playoff berth. Way to handle the pressure guys!

It will all come down to the last round, so get some competitive practice in this Sunday, by participating in the 2-strikes tournament at FGW, starting at 1 pm. See details here.

See you on November 20th!




















Round 8

Pin o' ween!














56 strong braved the chilly evening, and the allure of the World Series on TV, for a fun filled few hours with pinball as the center piece. There were some great costumes, but only 3 went home with a bonus point for their efforts. They were: Vanessa the Fireballer, Leann the Space Shuttle (who forgot to put her name in the hat...), & James Bullwinkle.

We also had film maker Jason Scott visiting us to shoot footage for his upcoming documentary about arcades. Some of his pictures are shown below, and a more can be found here.

Brian & Allison O'Neill had a great evening with 16 points each, and their Red Sox won the first game to boot. Others with 16 points included Andreas and Andrei. Jessica T and Josh had their best nights with 17 pts, while the reigning champ took home 18. Chris H continued his hot streak and shared top honors with Matt H. Both flipped well enough to earn 19 points.

We also voted to have a separate playoffs for the 17-32nd ranked players at the end of the season. Amber, Jessica, & Andreas have all stepped up and volunteered to run it.

See you on November 6th!














































Round 7

Make a wish birthday boy!

The night was cold, but our hearts were warmed by Brittany's cup cake laden surprise for her husband Andreas. The song was sung, a candle was blown, & then we all of a sudden had pinball on our minds. The round went well, in part thanks to Jeremy's tireless tinkering with WOZ. 

Of all 57 members who showed up, Matt W had the best score with 20 points (18+2) to add to his already impressive score card. Other notables were Russ, who had a season best 17 pts including a high score, and a trio had 16 points and consisted of: Ryan H, Damon, & Josh.

In the next few months, to my knowledge, there are more tournaments in the Bay Area than ever before, in such a short time span. If you have never played one before, make sure you try it at least once. It's really fun, and people are generally very helpful to newbies. For the most part the entry fee is $5, and the formats are varied. If you are a competitive player, this is your chance to earn yourself some wppr points before the end of the year.

For the one in Benicia, part of your entry fee will go to the Pinball Outreach Project headed By Nicole Anne Reik. Basically, she's putting pins out in hospitals, so that sick kids can have some fun and take their minds of whatever disease they are suffering from. For a complete listing of all tournaments, go here.

Remember that next round will be Halloween themed. The 3 best costumed members will each get a bonus point!

See you on the 23rd!


I wish I had a bed this comfy!




Play PINgo, it's all the rage in the Haight!





To the victor goes the spoils.







See something - Say something!





Full on Damon.









Round 6

It was Anish's night! 2 hours and 20 points later, Mr. Perfect Score stumbled out in the cool San Francisco air, unprepared for what life now would become. The media, the sponsors, the female attention. All of these he could handle. His own expectations was what kept him up that night. And what about returning to his old stomping grounds at Molotov's? Would they even have him, now that he had reached this pinnacle of pinball? Well played Anish!

A straw poll shows that 50% of SFPD members are having a great time at our events!

The miracle play of Massenkoff. He is one of very few humans who is able to play pinball while looking away from the play field. And he makes women laugh at the same time! His Achilles' heel? -Get him a beer or two and he's more human.

Sixty players showed up for our 6th evening. Shrimp and rolls were eaten. Beer was guzzled. It felt like a homecoming of sorts after our 3 week break. The above mentioned Anish, had a perfect night with 20 points, only to be bested by Andrei with a 23-pointer. Other good scores were Jeremy & Daniel with 19 apiece. Gene X continues to impress with 18 points, between taking all these great pictures.

See you on October 9th!


















Tu vuoi fare l'americano!


Round 5

Gene X is back in town. And like a wild dog, he is leaving his mark wherever he goes.


Vanessa announces that you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here! Nah, she did great in the Henri's absence.


Karen is getting a look from above of R&B.




The half way round brought in 56 players, out of which 20 have a perfect attendance record. Speaking of perfect, the score card of the night belonged to Andreas, who not only won all of his games, but also laid claim to 2 high scores. Not far behind him, Andrei lurked with 20 points and 3 high scores. James came back from the desert and picked up 19 points. With 17 points, Amber and Matt W showed that they too want to make it into the playoffs.

It feels like we have hit our stride now. The beer is flowing, the pins are working really well (thanks Shon!), and everybody seems to be having a good, if not great time. People, this is what we are aiming for.

When you look at the standings, you'll notice two additions. The last column now has a heading called "Adjusted Score". This means that the 2 lowest scores have been dropped when computing the players' score. The ranking is also based on this, and not total score anymore. Total score will still be in there, but more for fun than for actual use. While I would like to take credit for this, I will happily announce that the man responsible is none other than Andreas, who sacrificed part of his sleep for the benefit of us all. The other smaller change is that the top 6 players' names now are in shiny blue (whaaaaat?), to mark that they get to choose machines in the playoffs.

See you on October 2nd!


Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Pepsi! Pepsi! Coke? Jon is trying to soak up Andreas' flipper skills.


The man, the myth, the legend. It's Erin "Sol" Ray! The man who may just usher in a new era of clothing optional pinball.


Never underestimate the determination of an O'Neill. And Brian brews his own beer to boot.


He he he, let's see if I can screw Per out of a point here... Nice try Jeremy, nice try.


Whatcha listening to Tim? 


Round 4



Round 4, aka the Burning Man/Bay Bridge Closure session. Out of our 79 members, 59 showed up and enjoyed the additional space created by Matt & his crew by racking the store's garments by the food table. The 3 separate wait lists were also a hit. Speaking of hits, E-Wag showed why he is also known in some counties as Bottle Smasher. Thanks for the invaluable help with drawing groups, and way to get everyone's attention!

As for the competition, Michael J showed off some serious skills and bagged a 20-point performance alongside the ever present Andrei. Other notables were Richard L & Ryan H with 16 points. Erin, Darren, Vanessa, and Josh, all had 15 points each for the night. New machines for this round were: Honey, Terminator 3, (where Leann got the high score), Baywatch, and Laser Cue (2xMichael J).

In the absence of Gene, there aren't many pictures from the meeting. Feel free to send me photos if you have any.

Also, don't forget to check out what the "Ball and Chain" trophy is up to.

See you on Wed. August 28th @ 7:30. 




Round 3


SFPD member Devon believes that wallets are overrated. This young man had a great night with 2 high scores on Black Pyramid & Firepower 2, for a total of 19.5 points. Strike up a conversation with him sometime. It could change your life.


Russ & co are excited over Chris H's Medieval skills. For those interested in pinball design, AFM & MM were both designed by Brian Eddy, who also has The Shadow on his resume, as well as being involved in the creation of Indiana Jones (Williams), and FunHouse among other great games.


The toughest group of round 3 was without a doubt this one. Andrei defied his jetlag from PAPA in Pittsburgh to pull away for a victory, while league newbie Josh had a rough welcome to the SFPD. Garrett showed why he is in the top tier, while Gene X put down his camera long enough to play some great pinball. A sharp eye can spot Patty T's 12 points on the score sheet above. That's his 3rd straight round of 12 points. Way to start the season, Patty Dozen.

Judge Darren is looking for a way to make his cab fare home, while newbie John is feeling like a lethal weapon. Or is that the face of a guy who's about to start multiball?


Lil' brown dog made sure nobody put their beers on the tables.


Round 3 set a new record for most participants with 69 players, which is pretty ridiculous considering that we're a pretty young league, playing on a Wednesday night. The games were spread out as much as possible, in order to make it easier to move between machines, but there was still a bottleneck around the bathroom where the wait list was put up. To make for a better experience, we'll put up a wait list for each bank of machines in the vicinity of that particular bank, instead of one list for all the machines. That way, you don't have to wade through the masses to get to your list. At least in theory... We'll see how it works out.

The abovementioned Devon had the second best score of the night with 19.5, topped only by myself with 20. Andrei, who came bearing gifts from PAPA, had 19 points while Jonny and Rob C both had 17 for the night. 

See you on Wed. August 28th @ 7:30.


My new favorite t-shirt! Get 'em from Matt & Co at FreeGoldWatch.



How many 'staches can you find in this picture?

The crowd is responding to Andreis invitation to a field trip. Mr Massenkoff will lead anybody who's willing, to go see Tommy on Monday 8/19 at 8PM @ The Great American Music Hall on 859 O'Farrell St. Free admission! Permission slips in by Sunday! Helene (red shirt) is definitely thinking about going.





Josh and Michael talking strategy on WH2O.

A gift for Andrei? Or is it a voodoo doll? The hanging gummy bear puzzled at least some of us.




Pure pinball joy.


Round 2





What's Jeremy so happy about? Could it be that his brand new Wizard of Oz just arrived, and seconds ago he received a standing ovation for bringing said machine into our midst? Perhaps, but it could also be that he's looking forward to munching on some of the delicious cheese and crackers that Jonny O brought in. Either way, Jeremy has our gratitude for putting his machine on display at FGW. Fun fact: According to my secret source, the guy in the hat behind Jeremy is a good player. You may have seen his initials "WOO" on several SF locations. As far as we know, he has never before been captured by a camera. Nice work Gene X!








The replay is set for 40,000. Go get it!




Alessandra & Amber sharing some playing tips on Black Pyramid. This game will grow on you if you don't love it already. The replay is set at about 1.7 million.




16 new members showed up to make this round the most visited in SFPD history.





Round 2 had a record number of 54 members playing. Shon had his machines playing in great shape, especially Dr. Dude, which had been given an adjustment to the Heart of Rock 'n Roll- target. So now, it's way easier to get multiball going than before.

Newcomer Daniel had a great premiere with 17 points and a high score on DH. Other notables include Garrett with 18, James with 19, Andrei with 23, and Gene X with 17 points. If you didn't know it, Gene X is an outstanding photographer with a passion for pinball. His work can be seen on this site, as well as his own site.

The playoff rules are now set. I have tweaked them a little today to make them easier to understand and hopefully they will help make the playoffs a fun, fair, & phenomenal fest! If there are any questions, shoot me an e-mail or talk to me. I can be found in the Sunset, walking a little dog named Jimi, to and from FGW on most days.

If any of the scores are wrong, or if I have misspelled your name, please send me an e-mail and I'll correct it.

See you on Aug. 14th!

/Per


One more important thing: The September 25th meeting (round 6) will be postponed to October 2nd, due to vacation. The updated schedule reflects this change.














The official opening hours of FGW! Every day of the week is pinball day.





Round 1





Yeah baby!

We're back better than ever! The first day of the 2013 Fall league got off to a great start thanks to 52 pinheads who could have gone to the Fillmore and enjoyed The Cat Empire, but instead chose to come to FGW to light up the machines on this chilly evening in July.

A good example of this was Russ, who has been training at high altitude for three weeks, surviving only on flipper rubbers, tilt bobs, and pop bumpers, before descending to the Haight to lay claim on the night's best score on Jokerz, much to the joy of Amber & Echa. 


We had many newcomers to the league, which is really great, but also many returning members, which made for a great homecoming party. Last season's champ, James, had the winner's privilege to choose his own machines for the season opener and he picked STTNG, WW, LW3, & DH. He then managed to scrape together a near perfect score for the night with 23 points! As good as that was, he was bested by the Sultan of the Sunset, Andrei, who won all of his games and had all high scores to boot for a perfect round of 24 points. Congrats!


Have you read the rules & etiquette sheets yet?  I will work on the machine acronyms, I promise.


Thanks to Eric for doing such a great job with the drawing and remembering things that I forget. Big thanks also to Gene for the awesome pictures, which you can see more of here.


























Next meeting: Wed. August 14th,

7:30 PM @FGW.