PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some 500 pinball players are taking aim at the 17th annual World Pinball Championship in Carnegie.

Tournament director Mark Steinman says he’s played every one of the 479 machines in the 45,000-square-foot warehouse. There’s a 3-D feel that video games can’t match.

“Nudging and moving a pinball machine, a 300-pound box, is a skill that you have to develop if you want to play at a high level,” he says. “And no one’s playing Donkey Kong and shaking the game, trying to get the barrels to move in different directions. So it’s a more interactive, physical type of entertainment.”

After three days of qualifying, the top 24 enter the final round on Sunday. World Champion Bowen Kerins of Massachusetts has won three of the 16 titles.

“It’s very similar to the kind of mentality a pro athlete might have when you’re trying to make a free throw to win a game,” he explains. “You want that last second free throw to feel exactly like 100 free throws you made in practice. You’ve just got to go up and perform, in the moment. In fact, the games for the final day aren’t revealed until that morning.”

“We have games from all the way back in the 40’s and 50’s, to games that have just been released this year,” Steinman adds.

There’s also a Seniors competition, and Juniors, like 7-year-old Logan Manne of Buffalo. Admission is free to spectators, who can play hundreds of other machines for $.50 a game.

And if it gets a bit stressful, World Champ Kerins advises, “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong. Because it’s pinball.”

The competition continues, noon to midnight, through Sunday at 501 Keystone Drive in Carnegie. Admission for spectators is free. For more information, visit papa.org.

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