Pinball Showdown Grows and Returns to Denver

Photo: courtesy Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown and Gameroom Expo Facebook page

Photo: courtesy Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown and Gameroom Expo Facebook page

Marriott Tech Center Hosts Special Event

By Steve Graham

Dan Nikolich has a cure for your addiction to Helix Jump and your other iPhone games: pinball.

“It’s very analog and we live in a very digital world,” Nikolich said. “It’s a ball and a piece of wood and it rolls around. It’s got a unique feel that you can’t replicate in the digital world.”

He is offering more than 32 hours of that analog feel this weekend at the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown and Gameroom Expo, which he co-founded 16 years ago. The show is expanding this year to a 25,000-square-foot space at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. 

Nikolich is an engineer who used to fix arcade games in high school. He bought a pinball machine off eBay and was instantly hooked. Within six months, he launched the Pinball Showdown, one of the largest pinball and gaming expos in the country and the only one in the Rocky Mountain region.

The event has grown from 80 games and 200 attendees the first year to more than 300 games and 3,500 expected gamers this year.

The move to the larger Marriott will accommodate the crowd and some new events, including a haunted pinball tournament designed and operated by Denver’s own Bloodshed Deathbath Productions. 

Nikolich said the horror movie company will set up props and post actors in each room to distract and scare players attempting to play themed pinball games in the Horrorhouse Fest Pinball Tournament of Death.

There are also plenty of other pinball and game tournaments and trivia sessions for players of all ages and abilities. Or attendees can just play the games for fun — and for free. No quarters are required after paying the admission fee.

The event also includes the world’s largest Space Invaders game and a collection of patriotic pinball games in honor of Memorial Day weekend.

The festival brings plenty of guest speakers and seminars, including master pinball designers and programmers. Learn how to play pinball, succeed at tournaments and even engineer your own pinball game. 

One-day passes cost $35 for adults, and $18 for kids under 12 (kids under 6 are free). General admission hours are from 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday, May 25, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, May 26, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, May 27, at the Denver Marriott Tech Center, 4900 S. Syracuse St. 

For more information, visit http://www.pinballshowdown.com.

Photo: courtesy Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown and Gameroom Expo Facebook page

Photo: courtesy Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown and Gameroom Expo Facebook page