The game of Air Hockey is well-known all over the world because of the exciting and unique gaming experience it provides. Today, the same table game can be found virtually in every corner of the world and millions around the globe enjoy playing and competing in it.
But, at the same time, many only know the most basic things about it, while many more people might have not even heard about it. For all of them, but also for those who wish to learn more about this fascinating table game, here is an overview of all of the important information related to the Air Hockey.
For over two centuries, there is a strong and growing tradition of practicing dedicated table games. While there is a history of tabletop games like chess or checkers which date back thousands of years, table games include an entire setup embedded inside of the table itself dedicated to the game.
This makes the table surface the essential place where a certain game is played following a set of special rules. The popularity of these games started in the 19th century with the spread of the so-called “cue sports” that used balls or other objects that were intended to be moved using cue sticks. These then became a range of billiard games, all of which were played on high-quality tables and other dedicated accessories like balls and cues.
Quickly, the trend of playing billiards began spreading around the world as dedicated billiard halls began to open up, allowing their patrons to come and enjoy these games of skill and tactic. But, around the middle decades of the 20th century, those who were involved in this industry began exploring other ways of creating brand new table games.
During this period, things like flippers and many more arcade gaming machines came about, but so did the game of Air Hockey. This game was invented somewhere between 1969 and 1972 by a committed and driven team of employees working at Brunswick Billiards. Their main idea was to create a game that was played on a so-called friction less surface.
This meant that they wanted to make a gaming process where any mobile element could move freely and at full speed, uninhibited by the friction of a cloth-covered surface. To achieve this, they designed a system of air ducts that are located just below the surface which releases pressurized air. With this layer of air above the surface, they added a disc object that could glide easily over it.
Soon, they began thinking of basing the actual rules on an abstracted alternative of the regular game of ice hockey, adding two goals that were slit-like and two strikers that the players could hold. The object of the game was to score as many goals against an adversity while at the same time defending one's own goal from strikes. Not long after that, the game was presented to the public and it became an instant success.
Today, this table game usually comes with a large playing surface, rail that surrounds it that stops the pucks (the discs) and the paddles (the player-held strikers) from going away from the table. Finally, the table also has slits on opposite ends that serve as goals. The cushion of air is produced by the table to make it friction less and a photocell in each goal that is used to register every time a player scores a goal.
These scores are then presented on a display that is located above the table and visible to both players. The table size is standardized at being 8 feet in length, along with both the pucks and the paddles being of a standard set of dimensions. With modern technology, some Air Hockey tables come without the air cushion and instead use a friction less surface like polyethylene plastic.
Additionally, there are even some tables in which pucks themselves use a battery and create an individual air cushion. But, regardless of the technology used for any of these, the process of playing Air Hockey always remains the same and follows the same rule book.
The US has its own dedicated Air-Table Hockey Association that was created in 1975, also called the USAA that has standardized the rules and the way competitions are being played. After its creation, the USAA has sanctioned or helped organize at least one tournament on a national level called World Championships.
These championship competitions have produced more than a dozen winners over the past decades. In 2015, an additional body was created under the name of AHPA (Air Hockey Players Association) which was designed to help the players organize in an even larger manner and also oversee this sport. While the two organizations are separate and indented, they follow a very similar set of rules and regulation. With their help, the community of players of Air Hockey has managed to grow and become very close-knit.
Aside from the US, the same community includes players from Spain, Russia, Czech Republic and many more countries from around the world. In the years to come, there is little doubt that the same community will only prosper and grow, so it can be expected that international tournaments become more and more numerous and relevant.
Just like it was when the game came out, Air Hockey is popular today for one main reason - it is exceedingly fun to play. With quick matches that are very dynamic and unpredictable, where luck plays a factor nearly as much as skill, this game is cherished and enjoyed by millions both young and old.
This sheer element of fast-paced, action-packed excitement has allowed it to continue to be present in homes, entertainment halls and every other place where table games are played. As the world moves on, it is almost certain that the game of Air Hockey will continue to prosper and spread. After all, the sight of the puck gliding with speed across the table is something that is simply mesmerizing; it would be a shame if future generations do not get the opportunity to enjoy the same Air Hockey experience.