Danni Peck reigns at National Pinball Championships

Danni Peck, 16, the National Women

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF

Danni Peck, 16, the National Women’s Champion, competing during the National Pinball Championships in Christchurch.

Pinball champ Danni Peck scoffs when asked if she ever has to practise.

“When you have 120 pinballs in your house you don’t really need to … I’ve been playing since I was a toddler.”

Peck, 16, won the National Pinball Championships at Christchurch’s Arcadia Retro Arcade this weekend, taking out the top title ahead of her father and 30 more of the best players from around the country. She is currently the world number one ranked female player.

Director of Pintech Iain Jamieson and Arcadia owner Matthew Glanville. Glanville said he hoped to expand on the section of vacant land next to the arcade bar,

Joseph Johnson/Stuff

Director of Pintech Iain Jamieson and Arcadia owner Matthew Glanville. Glanville said he hoped to expand on the section of vacant land next to the arcade bar,

The event on Saturday and Sunday, included both Peck and her father, Pukekohe’s David Peck, who is ranked number one in New Zealand.

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While competing in around 100 competitions, David has faced some of the world’s most talented pinballers and taught his daughter a thing or two about how to play the game along the way.

Danni's father, Dave Peck, when he was crowned the most talented flipperhead in New Zealand.

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Danni’s father, Dave Peck, when he was crowned the most talented flipperhead in New Zealand.

With 120 machines available at their Auckland home, the Peck family have one of the world’s largest private collections. Peck said she started playing pinball as a 2-year-old. 

The family host big tournaments that draw the fast fingers of international players.

Peck, who entered her first competition at 12, said she enjoyed playing because it was a “full bodied experience, rather than just wiggling around a joystick” as with the other arcade games.

With imported machines costing up to $15,000 each, it was not a cheap hobby. After buying his first ever pinball machine at 19, her Dad taught himself to fix them.

Having such a vast collection made around the clock training possible but for Danni, it remained just a game.

“I play quite a bit but it’s not really training, it’s just playing.”

Arcadia owner Mathew Glanville said pinball had been so popular at the city’s first arcade bar that he was bringing in new machines to keep up with the demand. Arcadia, which opened its doors for the first time on Barbadoes St in June, had 16 machines and a dozen vintage video games.

He said day-time clientele were usually parents and their children but the place came to life at night with adults heard “screaming” when competition got fierce.

“You hear lots of stories from people of them sneaking away from school on their BMX bikes and down to play at the arcade.

“They always try to beat their best score from when they were a child.”

Glanville said Arcadia planned to launch womens, youth and amateur pinball leagues as a training ground to participate in regional and national competitions this year.

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