Pinball industry veteran Barry Oursler, a game designer for more than 40 years, died Feb. 22 due to complications of cancer treatment, according to David Fix of American Pinball, the company Oursler recently joined. He was 70.
Oursler designed more than 40 pinball games over his career. His Space Shuttle game released in 1984 is said by many to have saved and revitalized the pinball industry. He was also known for other games he made with Williams, including Gorgar, Joust, Comet, Doctor Who, Junk Yard, Dirty Harry and Jungle Lord. Oursler’s first game was Phoenix back in 1978.
An outpouring of comments from his friends and colleagues over the years were shared by American Pinball:
“Barry was a great friend and an early mentor for me in the Pinball biz. We spent 15 years working together at Williams. Barry was always willing to help me out with anything I needed while cutting my teeth in Pinball design. He was also a really fun guy. We made friends almost immediately. He had a sharp mind for humor and would jab me with practical jokery from time to time. I have nothing but fond memories of our time together. Barry had a heart of gold and was a good man. I had the pleasure of working on a game with Barry — that game was Police Force. We would jokingly lament together regarding Python’s crazy ways during development. It was a great experience and I am thankful to have had that opportunity. There were so many good times over the years. Suffice it to say – Great Friend, great person, and I shall miss him a great deal. Rest In Peace, my friend.” – Mark Ritchie
“What can one say about one of the true pinball design masters of the past forty years. Barry established himself as not just a creative talent but a genuinely humble individual who never sought the outside accolades but rather the internal contentment of what he was achieving. From the first time we worked together with Phoenix and Barracora to many subsequent projects, Barry remained a very special coworker and friend. I will miss him dearly but know his legacy will endure forever.” – Roger Sharpe
“I will always miss Barry for his soft spoken nature and his support of Pinball Expo since day one.” – Rob Berk, Pinball Expo
“I was looking forward to designing new games and new mechs with you. I had a wonderful time working on all your games.” – Zofia Ryan
“I will always remember Barry’s brilliant, dry sense of humor, and always having me in stitches.” – Jack Haeger
“I was looking forward to him coming to American Pinball to work with him and enjoying all of the good cooking that Barry made.” – Dennis Nordman
“Barry’s game, Space Shuttle, was my introduction to the pinball world. It was a privilege and an honor to work with him as a new member of the pinball industry and then again here at American Pinball.”– Steven Bowden
“Barry has always come across as a gentle giant. He was a guy I was happy to bring on to American Pinball. I am greatly saddened for his family.” – David Fix
“It saddens me that we lost one of the good guys. He was known as a prankster on some occasions and possibly playing with fireworks in the offices. A great designer and a good friend. He will be sadly missed.” – Ken Fedesna
“It was a great privilege to host him at the UK Pinball Show and to have him speak at the banquet about his amazing career in gaming.” – Gary Flower