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Bringing old-school gaming to The Black Clover

Kelsy Polnik is bringing pinball machines back to Prince George.
Kelsy Polnik, left, and his wife Naomi Polnik, take a turn on their pinball machines at The Black Clover, ready for guests to come try their hand at some old-school gaming.

Inviting people to join a Pinball League so soon after having the machines in place was kinda like watching your ball get caught behind the flipper.

Kelsy Polnik saw it was a little too early to start a robust league so he did a quick redirect and is nudging people into the pinball world with free play Tuesdays every other week starting March 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. at The Black Clover.

That way people can see what’s new in the hands-on game-play world.

At The Black Clover there’s three pinball machines including Iron Maiden, Marvel Avengers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

There are actual story lines built within these new games but there’s still flippers and balls and high scores and just the right nudge might get you that extra boost off the bumper you need for your bell ringing, light-flashing win.

“I just want people to come and try the machines out and hopefully bring their kids down and have some fun,” Polnik said. “Once we’ve got a big enough group of players coming relatively consistently then I would like to retry that league.”

It all started when Polnik, who used to own Game Quest, got the urge to bring something fun back to the people of Prince George.

“People haven’t played pinball in 20 or more years up here,” Polnik said.

“I love all sorts of gaming – table top, video, pinball, so I have a friend who operates all the machines down in Vancouver and I sort of picked his brain and thought I would give it a try up here,” Polnik said.

Polnik was on the hunt for sites where his pinball machines could provide entertainment for people around town.

“Troy (Mackenzie) who owns Black Clover is super enthusiastic about it,” Polnik said. “So when I had my first machine I was going around to different businesses to see if they’d be interested in putting one in and when I went into The Black Clover I talked to the day manager and as soon as I said pinball he said ‘you gotta talk to Troy’ and I didn’t even finish my sales pitch and Troy said ‘yup, let’s do it, bring it down,’ and he’s been really awesome about it.”

Pinball machines offer a glimpse into simpler game times.

“Five-year-olds and 80-year-olds can be on a pretty equal playing field and everyone can have a really good time,” Polnik said.

And Polnik doesn’t want to stop at three machines.

“I would love to have machines - kind of like it was in the 70s and 80s - where you’d just walk into a car dealership and there’s one, you’d walk into the laundromat and there’s one and into a restaurant and there’s one and there’d be different ones at each location and you’d find your favourite and keep going back to play.”

And thinking even bigger he’d like to bring something like the Family Fun Centre back to Prince George where people could be in a big indoor arcade play space, especially suited for the winter.

“It would just be something cool for people to do inside and stay warm and have a lot of fun together,” Polnik said.

It’s just not the same when you play games virtually.

“There’s something really special about physically touching a machine, hearing all the bells, seeing all the lights going and when you hit that big jackpot and see all the numbers flying up and even being able to nudge the machine – there’s really nothing like it.”