Joey the Cat is America’s best skeeball player so we’re delighted to present his skee-tastic new San Francisco experience. If you don’t know skeeball by name, you’ll recognise it from your childhood – it’s a classic arcade game where you roll balls up a ramp and hopefully into holes. As well as being at the top of his game, Joey runs a skeeball business, renting out beautiful machines to individuals and companies all over the Bay Area. We chatted to Joey to discover how exactly he became a skeeball whizz…
How did you first discover skeeball?
“As a child I played skeeball at Chuck E. Cheese’s with my father. But it wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco a few years ago that I rediscovered the game and started playing competitively. I renewed my love for the game. Getting my first skeeball machine was a pivotal moment in my career. I now have ten machines and I rent them out.”
What do people find so appealing about skeeball?
“Well it’s a classic boardwalk game that many people have happy memories of playing as kids. It’s what’s known as a ‘redemption’ arcade game, which rewards players with tokens that can be exchanged for prizes.”
On your YouTube video, you get the ball in the same hole every time. It’s incredible. Do you have a natural talent?
“Some people have good hand-eye coordination and some people don’t. You need to be able to maintain a high level of control and make real-time decisions about what you’re doing. But mostly it comes down to practice and studying the game. It’s only after many hours of playing skeeball that it clicks. I probably did over 5,000 hours of playing to reach this level. The first time I entered the nationals I went out in the third round so I worked even harder at my game and won the tournament the next year.”
How competitive is skeeball in San Francisco?
“I play in a league called Brewskee-Ball, which is the first ever competitive skeeball league. They’re all over the country now but in San Francisco we have around 500 players, and around 125 active players each skeeson, our word for a season. There are tournaments at the end of each skeeson and then an annual national tournament, which I won as part of the San Francisco team.”
And does competitive skeeball get tense?
“It can certainly get heated and emotional. There’s some psyching out of opponents and when games go down to the wire it can get very tense. But it never gets physical!”
What can people expect from your Vayable skeeball experience?
“We’ll start at my apartment for a session of Skeeball 101. I’ll show you some skeeball paraphernalia, my national championship, and then we’ll practice on my personal machine. We’ll play about 15 games before we venture out into the city. We’ll go to some bars and music venues where people play skeeball and experience the game in different environments. We’ll try different machines, have some drinks, and maybe hustle people for games.”
Do you ever hustle people into playing you at skeeball? It’s not as if you’re going to lose…
“Ha ha, no, I don’t do that. Unless somebody is acting particularly confidently…”