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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 11, November 2010, Posted On: 11/1/2010

New Documentary Gives Hollywood Treatment To Air Hockey

Nick Montano
Way of the Puck, air hockey, documentary film, Eric D. Anderson, Mark Robbins, Shelti Inc., Major League Air Hockey, Michael Rosen, coin-op games, coin-op news, coin machine business, arcade game, amusement industry

Way of the Puck

HOLLYWOOD, CA -- "Way of the Puck," a revealing documentary about coin-op's fastest sport game, arrived on DVD on Oct. 29. The film is the brainchild of director Eric D. Anderson, who spent six years following the many personalities surrounding air hockey and the coin-op industry.

"Way of the Puck" examines in 81 minutes air hockey's brief history -- from its unlikely connection to NASA during the Cold War to the contemporary brand of ESPN-ready, high-octane, professional-level play, to its current existential crisis. Anderson's film depicts air hockey's tangled roots and discovers a passionate community of players who devote their lives to the mastery of a forgotten arcade game.

"Air hockey has had a brief but tumultuous history," the filmmaker said. "And like many of the classic, non-virtual arcade games like darts, pool and foosball, it has a small but devoted following. My goal was to document this passionate subculture and its history, even mythology, and to spread the word to the masses that this coin-op classic can be cool again."

Major League Air Hockey commissioner Michael Rosen said "Way of the Puck" insightfully exposes the bonds between people and their passions. "In the modern time crush, working hard and playing hard are now part of our souls," he said. "'Way of the Puck' shows how air hockey is quite revealing and still quite relevant."

Industry veteran and air hockey devotee Mark Robbins is featured prominently in the film. "Air hockey has a lot of characters," he said, "but the movie doesn't simplify them into cartoon characters. You've got the positive, the negative and everything in between. But you also have a lot about air hockey itself, which is why we're here. And it's exciting. I think it's a great balance."

Robbins, who is best known in the coin-op industry for bringing air hockey to Dynamo Corp. in the 1980s, is now the owner of Shelti Inc., a Bay City, MI-based a maker of pool, dart, foosball and air hockey games. [see story]

"Way of the Puck" is now available for $19.95 on DVD at wayofthepuck.com, where visitors can also view a trailer. It will soon be offered at Amazon, among other online retailers, to buy, download or stream. A region-free version is available for international air hockey fans.

A special collector's edition also is in the works. Bonuses will include feature-length audio commentary by Anderson and Robbins, scene selections and cuts and the original trailer, along with enhancements for widescreen TVs, and 5.1 surround and stereo 2.0 mixes.

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