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Blog Post Gobble Holes & Habitrails: 20 Terms for Pinball Newbies

Gobble Holes & Habitrails: 20 Terms for Pinball Newbies

Gobble Holes & Habitrails: 20 Terms for Pinball Newbies

It's hard to walk the walk if you can't talk the talk! So here are 20 pinball terms that will give you a better understanding of the silver ball and help you get into the game like a pro:


Backbox: The vertical head of a pinball machine that holds the backglass and displays the score.

Backglass: The upright glass panel in the backbox that features the game's title and artwork.

Bumper: Round, mushroom-shaped targets set into the playfield. Active bumpers forcefully kick the ball away when struck. Passive bumpers do not kick the ball but disturb the ball's movement.

Cabinet: The large box that holds the playfield. Also called the body.

Captive Ball: A pinball trapped within a small area of the playfield which can be struck by a free ball, but cannot itself leave the area.

Drop Target: An upright, pressure-sensitive rectangle that drops below the playfield when hit by a ball. Drop targets are often arranged in banks and may require being struck in combination or in sequence to score or light special features.

Drain: The area beneath the flippers where the ball goes when it is lost. Also refers to the act of losing a ball in this manner.

Flipper: A tapered paddle typically found in pairs at the bottom of the table and controlled by buttons on the left and right side of the cabinet. It is the player's primary means of controlling the ball.

Gobble Hole: A hole in the table that ends the game or current ball if the ball falls into it.

Habitrail: A wireform track for the ball to travel on.

Kick-out Hole: A small depression in the table that, when the ball falls into it, kicks the ball back into play after gaining either points or adjusting the game state.

Lane: Any area of the table just wide enough for the ball to pass through. Inlanes are situated at the bottom of the playfield and connect to the flipper area while outlanes, also at the bottom, are at the far ends and cause the ball to drain.

Multi-ball: A mode where multiple balls are on the playfield at the same time.

Nudging: Moving the machine itself just enough to influence the ball but not enough to result in a tilt.

Pinhead: A pinball enthusiast!

Plunger: A spring-loaded rod located at the bottom right corner of the playfield that, when pulled and released, launches the ball into play.

Playfield: The main flat surface of the game on which targets, ramps, flippers and bumpers are arranged. The upper playfield is closest to the backbox while the lower playfield is nearest the player.

Spinner: A rotating target that spins in place when a ball rolls under it.

Skill Shot: A bonus awarded to the player for completing a specific task when launching the ball.

Tilt: Designed to prevent players from shaking the machine too hard, the tilt mechanism when triggered ends play for the current ball.