13 Places to Find the Pinball Community Online (That Aren't Pinside)
One of the best parts of getting into the pinball scene is discovering the great community behind it. Because pinball is such a physical activity, that community can often start regional at your local barcade, pinball bar, or pinball league night. But, as with most hobbies with passionate fans, the pinball community extends far beyond your regional hotspots.
If you've spent any time looking for pinball resources or communities online, you've probably already come across Pinside and pinside.com. They're the top player in pinball and the go-to resource for many in the community. On Pinside, you can do a bit of everything. They have the Pinside forum for community discussions and troubleshooting, the marketplace for buying/selling pinball machines, accessories, and mods, the pinball machine directory and top 100 rankings lists, and of course the pinball map for finding a place to play pinball nearby. But, for all the good that Pinside provides, it certainly has its faults. As is common for many hobbyist forum communities, Pinside has a bit of a reputation for toxicity among its members, and if you're looking for pinball resources or answers to specific questions, it can be a bit unwieldy to navigate (try sifting through a 300 page game owners thread to see what we mean).
So if you're looking for other pinball communities to check out, either as a supplement to or a replacement for Pinside.com, we've got you covered!
Here's our roundup of the best places to find the pinball community online (other than Pinside, cause that's just too obvious for us).
Related: check out our rankings of the top 50 pinball machines ever made
Reddit Pinball Communities
Reddit is a powerhouse for niche communities on the internet, and it's not much different for pinball. It's a great place to go if you're looking for alternatives to Pinside for pinball content and discussion, as it offers a few active pinball communities in a somewhat more modern format.
Reddit's home for Pinball, /r/pinball doesn't have the volume of activity that a site like Pinside offers, however, it's generally a friendlier place to interact, and it can be easier to keep up with the flow of information. Specific questions get answered very quickly and mods do a good job of keeping everything on topic.
/r/PinballFX3 is where fans of Zen Studios' series of virtual pinball tables come to congregate. Zen is known best for their Pinball FX series for console and PC gaming. They focus on releasing their own series of original tables, plus licensed games (like Star Wars and Marvel properties), and in recent years remakes of classic Bally/Williams era games from the 1980s and 1990s.
/r/VirtualPinball is the home for, as you might have guessed, all things virtual pinball. This is where Virtual Pinball fans get together to talk about Virtual Pinball releases, building their own Virtual Pinball Cabinets, and where they talk about other virtual pinball games like Pinball FX, Pinball Arcade, and others.
Other Forum Pinball Communities
Pinside doesn't have a total monopoly on pinball forum communities. There are several others worth checking out, though admittedly few will scratch your pinball itch in exactly the same way as Pinside does.
The Tilt Forums are mostly known as the place where the tournament and competitive pinball crowd hangs out. There they can discuss upcoming tournaments, questions on specific rulings or competitive situations, scoring strategies, and more. It's typically not where you'd go if you needed to know how to clean your playfield properly, but it is where you'd go if you wanted to learn how to stack modes on Stern's Godzilla to maximize your scoring potential in a tournament setting.
Tilt doesn't have a high volume of activity, but that means there's way more signal than noise, so it's a valuable resource if tournaments and scoring optimization are your thing. Tilt also has a great collection of in depth rules documents, so it can be a great resource for learning how to play pinball, particularly the newer machines with more complex rulesets.
PinballInfo is another pinball forum community that's much closer to a Pinside clone than some of the others on this list. However, while Pinside tends to have an American slant, PinballInfo is concentrated more on the UK and larger European community of players.
KLOV is more known as a resource for video arcade games, but given the usual overlap with pinball, you can find pinball centric discussions there as well. Certainly not as large or diverse of a resource as other sites on this list, however if you're also into arcade games, then it could be a great one-stop-shop for your needs.
Discord and Slack Pinball Communities
In recent years, pinball has gotten quite active on both Discord and Slack. These are chat-based platforms that have real-time messaging, voice and video capabilities. Discord should be familiar to anyone who is into video games broadly and Slack is familiar to many people in the business community. Because of the nature of these two platforms, it can be a little hard to find where the pinball centric communities are located, but that's why we're here! While we expect to revisit this list and update with new entities as they arise, here are a few Discord and Slack pinball communities to get you started.
Ray Day Discord
The Ray Day Discord is the Discord server of Raymond Davidson, one of the top competitive pinball players in the world, plus a Stern Pinball coder, plus a successful pinball Twitch streamer. It's a smaller community of pinball players, but it tends to draw a lot of the top competitive players and others influential in pinball circles (tournament organizers, podcasters, streamers and others).
Pinball Tournament Directors Slack
It's a very on-the-nose group name, but Pinball Tournament Directors is the Slack group for, you guessed it, Pinball Tournament Directors! It's another small, niche pinball community, but if you either run pinball tournaments or hope to run pinball tournaments some day it's a great resource. Besides interacting with other Tournament Directors, it's also one of several places where representatives of the IFPA are active should you need specific support or have questions about IFPA rules interpretations.
IFPA Discord Server
This is the official Discord server for the IFPA, the organization that governs the competitive pinball scene. Go here if you want to learn more about running a pinball tournament, interpreting IFPA's rules, or other specific questions about the tournament pinball scene.
Pinball People Discord Server
Pinball People is a newer group (started in the last 3 years or so) that's developed a decent following and has robust activity levels for its size (~500 members). Conversations touch on all facets of pinball, from repair help to events and tournament play.
Facebook Groups for Pinball
Besides Reddit, Facebook is another massive player for finding niche communities online. There are tons of pinball groups to be found there, often focused around regional buy/sell activity. However, there are a few standout groups worth investigating on your pinball community journey.
Pinball Enthusiasts is one of the largest and most active pinball-centric Facebook group. Often can feel like an offshoot of Pinside on Facebook, with conversations covering a lot of the same territory (troubleshooting, showing off game rooms, general questions, etc.) and often involving some of the same toxicity issues as Pinside. But, it's large and very active, so you're likely to find some value there.
Em Pinball is entirely focused on games from the electro-mechanical era of pinball, so really anything before about 1979 or so prior to the onset of modern solid state machines in the late 70s and early 80s. Because of this, it can be a little quieter than the Pinball Enthusiasts group, but it also has far less associated drama.
Pinball Degenrates is the brainchild of pinball superfan Joe Ciarvano, and it has to be the most fun (and sometimes bizarre) pinball Facebook group. Its where the hardcore pinball people (degens) go to have fun, post memes, and do some good natured shit-talking.
As you can see, there are a multitude of places to find the pinball community online. Whether you're looking for general information and conversation, or more specific communities that focus on a certain era or type of pinball machine, there's something out there for everyone. We hope this list provides a good starting point as you explore the world of pinball online communities.