Get the Ball Rolling: Pinball comes to Pawtucket

This could be the start of a sitcom: two friends, living together, decide to pick up pinball as a hobby, and bring along another friend for the ride. The next thing they know? They’re opening Electromagnetic Pinball in Pawtucket. Michael Pare, Emily Rose and Joe Paquin have come together to bring not only their own collection to the public, but a love of pinball, gaming and community. 

The housemates started collecting about five years ago with one single pinball machine, and the hobby continued to grow. Emily Rose says, “We didn’t have couches, we had maybe 20 or 25 pinball tables, some stored underneath each other. It was like [stacking] cartridge games; even though they’re pinball tables, we were putting one under another and moving them when we needed them.” 

Rose has always had a love for games, but found a particular love for pinball and the pinball community. She said, “We’ve met a lot of friends, been to events, there’s just been a resurgence in pinball. It’s such a good response, we just keep going.”

Each of the three business partners have their own talents when it comes to the business, and through Joe, they spent a lot of time connecting with the community. They’re running a summer camp this summer, and plan on having group homes come in. Rose says, “We’re also working with a charity called Project Pinball that puts machines in hospitals and Ronald McDonald houses.”

Rose talks about a return to pinball as a “classic” style game. She said, “The gaming environment is kind of dying, we’re trying to go against that.” Rose stresses the need to have players be in the moment and focused on what’s happening in the game. There are two problems she’s identified in the gaming world — first and foremost, an issue with most games being digital. She says of the pinball tables, “We like it because it’s real, each pinball table is its own thing. Virtual? It’s not the same without the ball.” Second, she mentions how people forget the art of the games and how to play them because they’re focused on the prize. She says, “People don’t appreciate games when they focus on the prize or the money; they miss out on the experience of the game.” Because of that, the arcade does have prizes, but you can buy them if you want. The experience is about the game itself. She says: “Play games for the sake of playing games, it’s fun!”

Rose reflects on her past as she looks to the future of the business she helped build. “We’re trying to put in as much into the gaming community as we got out.”

Electromagnetic Pinball (881 Main St, Pawtucket) will hold a free grand opening party on July 2 from 2-5 pm (suggested donation: $10). Play pinball, visit their neighbor, Lighthouse Skatepark, and have an early dinner at Smoke and Squeal BBQ, which also is in the building. For more info, go to fb.com/ElectroMagneticPinball