Pinball Vocab

Pinball Vocab

Pinball Vocab 500 648 GAD Vending

Maybe this could be a test but wanted to share a few, common pinball terms and resources to help you start a new hobby of owning Pinball Games.

What is a ruleset?

A pinball ruleset are just the rules for the game.  For example, if you shoot the ball into a certain hole, it will score a certain number of points, or on modern games maybe start start a mode or a multiball.

Modes?  Multiballs?

A mode is a “level” of the game that happens for a limited amount of time during a game where you’re typically trying to accomplish a certain task to score points or progress through the game.  Multi-balls are modes when more than one ball is in play at a time and can be some of the most exciting times in a pinball game.

Are the levels like the levels on a video game?

Yep.  And just like a video game, you can beat the game if you complete all the levels or goals in a game.


Modifications – upgrades or additions to the machine.  These are very subjective, and sometimes add little or no value to the machine.  However, if it has popular mods or mods that are no longer produced it can add significant value.

What are some basic things to know when looking at a pinball machine?

Depending on the age and manufacturer of the machine, the following may vary slightly, but here are some basics for most solid state machines. When you look at a pinball machine, there is the cabinet and the backbox. To turn the game on, there is usually a switch on the bottom of the cabinet a few inches behind the right front leg. Some newer machines have the on/off switch on the bottom of the right side of the backbox.

Basic Slang To Know? 

  • Pinhead – enthusiast
  • Panic flip – flipping before the ball has a chance to reach the flipper
  • Bumper – Bumpers are round, mushroom-shaped targets set into the playfield of most pinball machines.  They fall into two categories: active and passive.  Both types register a hit when the ball collides with them
  • Drain – when the ball goes through the flippers and that ball is over
  • Frenzy – a special feature when the machine scores a lot of points by releasing balls into the playfield
  • Multiball – When several balls are in play at one time. During multiball, there is often some sort of objective, most commonly a jackpot target that scores an obscene amount of points. Multiball is trademarked by Williams Electronics.

Where do I find more information about Pinball? 

  • Pinside – has a wide variety of forums, resources and great information.
  • Wikipedia – may not sound too cool but as usual, very comprehensive information.
  • Internet Pinball Database – not only a comprehensive glossary but lots of great information to check out.