We like our games unpredictable and addictive. We want flashing lights to keep us on our toes, balls like silver bullets to test our reaction times, and unpredictable sounds to test our focus. Thank heaven for pinball - the only game that satisfies our needs.
On the last Friday of the month, in a small room on the city's edge, dozens of retro pinball machines are switched to free play for four hours of intense, adrenaline-pumping chaos. This is Pinball Faith.
It all kicks off at 19:00 - but the faithful show up early to get first pick of the machines. Pay $25 at the door and, in exchange, you get four hours of extreme gaming action and enough pizza to keep your energy levels topped up. (And for After Hours Athletes, it finishes up early enough for us to head out on the town afterward.)
The room fills up quickly, so you can expect to wait for a machine. Watching the other enthusiasts play only heightens the excitement. For the true competitors, it's a chance to watch and learn from others' mistakes.
Pro Tip: Scope out the regulars; they know these machines inside and out. They could play with their eyes closed. Their ball pulls are refined, almost like a natural reflex, and their flipper skills are the fastest in Melbourne. If you think you've got the stuff, enter the knockout competition. Be warned: it's not for the faint of heart.
Pinball Faith has all of the movie-based classics, and each machine has its quirks, tricks, and challenges. And in pinball, every play is different, and every game is another chance. That's why we can't get enough. We're not fuelled by alcohol, prize money or fame - just adrenaline and the determination to beat our last score.
Photos courtesy of Shannon Crane.