Williams, 1991: The Bride of Pinbot
For a certain period of time in my life, I spent a lot of time at the pinball arcade, and one of the things I loved so much about it came in the form of the quite underrated existence of the pinball tournament and leagues my local arcade hosted regularly. An ex-boyfriend of mine got me hooked on pinball—but we won't linger there for long—and from then on, I was addicted. Up until then, I had always been quite horrible at modern video games, so I never quite stuck around, but no matter how badly I sucked at pinball, I still couldn't turn away. (Full confession: I'm not the worst player, but I'm not the best player. To coin a phrase from a popular pinball T-shirt, I'm the world's okayest pinball player.)
That first arcade I played pinball at had so many great games:
Ripley's Believe It or Not
The Wizard of Oz
. . . and the list goes on and on.
Generally, during league play, we'd get into groups of four or five people, and they'd give us a list of a group of games to play from to even the playing field. And I knew I was absolutely in trouble when I saw The Bride of Pinbot on that list.
As I'd walk up to play her, I'd mumble under my breath, "This bitch . . ." To this day, I don't really know why I felt such disdain for her, but I knew that anytime she was on the league list that week, I was going to suck hard—suck really, really hard.
Created by Python Anghelo and John Trudeau, The Machine is a female robot whose sole purpose is to morph into a human female. As players get further into the game, different parts of her are activated—like her voice and her eyes—that make her look, sound, and feel more human. When her voice is activated, she says, "I can speak." Her mannerisms—as far as they can show during pinball play—are slightly seductive and sexual, so this game typically has an option to turn those more-mature features off when children are around.
But her story actually goes a bit deeper than this . . .
Bride of PinBot takes place on Earth and features humans building a rocket ship into space (who also happens to be The Bride). How do they build her? Via pachinko and a large roulette table. The subtle message of gambling will come back later in the PinBot Trilogy. Once PinBot turns her “human” she always reverts back into her robotic form. Essentially, her turning human isn't physical, but metaphorical, and stands for the human condition of sacrificing it all to win it big and the overall human ambition.
This could refer to PinBot and humanity's dreams of reaching the stars, risking a big hand in a game of poker, or both. And why is the Bride also a spaceship? Because PinBot hasn't built an actual wife, but a space station in the shape of a woman that he has named “The Bride,” because he is married to the stars and space travel.
So, was PinBot trying to build the perfect woman, or was he trying to turn his love for astronomy into something it couldn't be?
Either way, if we frame it within the act of playing the game, The Machine never could truly become human because she was doomed for a reset every time some idiot really, really sucked at figuring her out.
(No, that's not really me—I promise, I am a real, live female human.)
I had one very memorable moment playing her one night during league play. Up against two of my friends who happened to be pinball wizards (for a lack of a better phrase), I pulled it out of the park and kicked the ass of one of the best players I've ever been up against. I'm sure he doesn't think about that moment at all, but for me?
That was the night I really represented for all of us Brides out here in the real world: I became a real girl.
For more information on The Bride of Pinbot . . .
Internet Pinball Machine Database. "The Machine: Bride of Pin-Bot." Accessed October 28, 2020. https://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?gid=1502.
Wikipedia. "The Machine: Bride of Pin-Bot." Accessed October 28, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Machine:_Bride_of_Pin-Bot.
Rage Works. "The PinBot Trilogy." March 19, 2017. https://rageworks.net/the-pinbot-trilogy-pinball-storytelling-quarks-corner/.