Pinball is more than just a game for some people

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Pinball in the Valley is alive and well, and the classic game has fans of all ages competing in the Valley, and around the country.

If one would ask Rachel Bess why she's so into a retro game like pinball, she'll say...

"That's sorta like saying cars are a pretty retro thing, how do you get into cars?"

Bess has been playing pinball since she was a teenager. Now, it's not just a hobby for the pinball purist, but a livelihood. She runs the Electric Bat Arcade, and can fix just about any machine.

"I just got more and more into it until I started buying them," said Bess. "Then I owned too many, and opened an arcade."

For hundreds across the Valley, pinball isn't just making a comeback. It is back. The hobby has led to leagues for everyone, from the casual player to the hardcore.

"I play in tournaments," said Tracy Lindbergh. "I play for money. I play for fun, for trophies, whatever"

Lindbergh is one of the best players in the world, and she is a Valley resident. Lindbergh didn't even think about competing until just about five years ago.

"I met a former Pinball world champion in 2013," said Lindbergh. "I had been playing pinball for years but had never heard about competitive pinball, and when I did, I became obsessed."

Now, Lindbergh is the ninth-ranked woman in the world, according to the International Flipper Pinball Association. She's probably forgotten more about the game then you know. She founded the female only "Belles and Chimes" league, for players like her looking to keep racking up the points. She's also a part of other co-ed leagues.

"There had never been a weekly league in Arizona at the time, and we said, 'gosh, are people gonna show up on a weekly basis', and they did en masse. and we've been having over 50 players a week show up here at Tilt Studio," said Lindbergh.

So, what does it take to become a pinball champion?

"I always tell people just start somewhere, play and have fun," said Lindbergh. "If you finish last in a tournament, it's no big deal. You keep playing, you're going to get better, you're going to keep moving up," said Lindbergh.

"Practice. It's practice. It's for sure practice," said Bess. "Being able to see where the ball is gonna go, knowing where I want to shoot it, and being able to control it a little bit better."

For a lot of the players, it's really not about the wins and losses.

"What I like about pinball is that it's a very physical activity," said Bess. "If I'm spending the day at the computer or doing something more digital, this is something that gets me out of the house. It gets me doing something."

There are more than 36,000 ranked players nationwide, and if you need to get your pinball fix, you can join some of the Valley's best at the Electric Bat Arcade in the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe, or at Tilt Studio at the Arizona Mills mall.