The tournaments at Pinball At The Zoo are organized by PH and his family and friends, the same people who run the Blind Squirrel League and the various festivals in Fremont. They know how to drive up the International Flipper Pinball Association point value of their tournaments. The things that are easy to do are to have lots of people play, and have high-ranking people play. Getting lots of people to play is easily done: give everyone who attends Pinball At The Zoo a coupon for a free entry. Even if they only play one game, that brings their mass to the tournament's point value. Also, they run several tournaments at the same time and place. To really count in the IFPA's eyes, a person needs to play at least three tournaments and this is why, Friday, PH and crew were hosting the Main Tournament qualifiers, the Classics Tournament qualifiers, and a Daily Tournament. Plus a Kids Tournament for exactly who you'd think. There may have been some more on the side. It's easy to lose track.
We've played in their tournaments several times. This time, we went a step farther, along a path that might come to overwhelm our lives. They need scorekeepers, people who can log and verify what entrants are putting up in qualification. bunny_hugger volunteered for two one-hour shifts and, after some pondering, I did too. They took volunteers by a widely shared Google Docs spreadsheet, which is apparently just something people do these days, as if that were normal.
The scorekeeping's done on tablet computers, iPads and the like. Somehow the It Never Drains In Southern California pinball empire has expanded to tournament scorekeeping applications that, must say, work really well. Each of our tablets had a pretty nice system in place. Players could ask to be put in a queue for one of the twelve main-tournament or four side-tournament tables. When their turn came they'd play. If the player put up a new persona high on that machine, the scorekeeper logged that score. If not, the game was voided. The player goes back into a queue, for that machine or for another. And the whole thing is surprisingly smoothly designed. I was confused, initially, that when you put a player in the queue for a different game, the app showed who was in the queue for the new game rather than the old. I'm not saying that design was wrong, just that it confused me and confused bunny_hugger. We needed a little more briefing to understand it.
Considering the chaos, though, we were trained up to competence very well. And we were lucky in that our first hours were relatively calm ones. There were almost always people on machines, but the queues weren't growing out of control and players were not getting overly anxious about getting games in. After an hour of this, we had some free time to eat and to peek at games and consider how easy the whole thing was, really.
So, now, after our dinner-snack we had the other hour of scorekeeping and that was much more madness. Suddenly there were way more people there, and getting more desperate about getting their scores in. And as they will, they were getting worse about sitting still until we could get the scores we had logged. Plus, of course, the wireless network at the expo center got slow and spotty. This is not the ideal thing for a couple of mild-mannered introverted people. I had it easier, of course, thanks to being a tall, bearded guy. I can tell people ``stay there a minute, the network is down'' and have a fair chance of compliance. So while bunny_hugger has sworn off ever scorekeeping again, I'm open to it.
Part of volunteering for scorekeeping was to do something to help tournaments that we enjoy a lot run successfully. That would have been enough reason to do it, in fact. But there was a tangible reward. Each hour of volunteering came with ten tournament entry tickets.
Trivia: Josiah Wedgwood arranged in 1767 to have five tons of Cherokee clay imported from North America, at a cost of £ 500. Source: The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made The Future, Jenny Uglow.
Currently Reading: The Vulgar Tongue: Green's History of Slang, Jonathon Green.