Interview with Pinball Designer John A. Popadiuk, Jr. on His Work and the Ben Heck`s Zombie Adventureland Project

Posted by Christophor Rick (TheSuperGuido), Mar 21, 2012 17:26

John A. Popadiuk, Jr. might not be a household name, but for many of us who remember the John A. Popadiuk, Jr.s Pinball Designerglory days of pinball machines and arcades, he is an icon. He is an award-winning American pinball designer and artist who is dedicated to keeping the spirit of pinball alive.

I got a chance to talk with him before we head off to the Midwest Gaming Classic this weekend where he will appear with Ben Heck to talk about their latest project, Ben Heck`s Zombie Adventureland, a new pinball they made.

How many pinball games have you helped design which are in production? There’s Theatre of Magic, World Cup Soccer, Heroes vs Villains, Tales of Arabian Nights, Atari Classics pinball, Cirqus Voltaire, Star Wars Episode I and?

Well that’s about it. I have made many whitewoods that were never made like Destroyer for Bally and the Alice in Wonderland game. At Zizzle we made 5 models of our pinball, the Atari Arcade Classics was not put into production but was really a great looking pinball package. As a designer I would chime in on other games, but nothing major was ever put into production. I was very lucky to get into WMS with the help of Jim Patla, and get WCS made. 

World Cup Soccer pinball

Which was your favorite?

Many people have been asking me that. I do not have a real favorite, I like old games from the 40s and 50s very much and they are inspiring. For sure Magic Girl is my best game, at this point. It has a lot of new ideas and great pinball artwork. I am very proud so far and can’t wait to get it completed.1950s Gottleib woodrail pinballs at Pacific Pinball Museum

Are you still teaching at Columbia? Is that more theory or practice or both?

At Columbia I teach in the Art & Design Department. We have a BFA that covers product design and interactive design. Last semester, I taught Toy Design which is a very theoretical and very hands on course. We learn to draw, prototype and make powerful presentations. Adjunct members that have real studios are most prized as well as they can speak from practical experience in today’s design world.

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