California Extreme 2017

One arcade event that I look forward to annually, is California Extreme. Since 2009, I’ve attended every year except 2011, and I have no intention of stopping. In the heart of Silicon Valley, this annual bash is in the backyard of where many classics were designed and produced. California Extreme provides the opportunity to play hundreds of arcade games and pinball machines: including rare and prototype machines that you’re not going to find anywhere outside of private collections. Not only that, but there are always excellent guest panels/seminars, tournaments, bands, vendors, etc. It’s a blast!

All of those things are great, but what really keeps me coming back is the people. I spend a lot of time on arcade/pinball forums, and a big part of California Extreme’s fun – for me at least – is connecting with those people in real life, having some adult beverages, and getting into trouble. Cheers!


In 2016, I was really looking forward to playing Stern’s newest (at the time) pinball machine, Ghostbusters. I had one on pre-order, but hadn’t actually played it yet. Fortunately for me, I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I kept my order, and that game now resides in my collection (you can read all about that one here).

This year,I went to California Extreme with similar stars in my eyes: Star Wars! The first Pro models were starting to roll off Stern’s factory floor, so I was hopeful that they’d have some available to play over at Marco Specialties’ booth. Not only did they have it, they had like a dozen of ’em! Needless to say, I spent the bulk of my weekend’s game-playing time checking out Star Wars, getting a feel for its rules and flow, and trying to decide whether or not to keep my pre-order. Easy decision: yep!!!! It’s a really fun game, with a super-fast layout, a spectacular light show, and of course, iconic sounds and visuals. Well done, Stern!


Adding to the excitement was that Star Wars’ designer, the legendary Steve Ritchie, was in attendance. He was a really nice guy and signed a Star Wars translite for me, as well as a flyer.


Later that day, I attended a panel in which he talked all about the creation of Star Wars, as well as several of his other games.


Overall, another great year!