The silly animations displayed on bowling alley screens when players get strikes, spares or gutterballs serve to entertain and engage players and have become a staple in the bowling experience over the years, especially for beginners.
When a player rolls a strike, the animation will often include the famous “X” symbol, indicating a strike in scoring notation, which may be accompanied by graphics such as dancing pins, exploding balls and pins, or animated characters celebrating the strike.
Spare animations can vary widely and often feature amusing scenarios, such as a pin getting saved at the last moment, or pins celebrating a near-miss before eventually falling.
On the other end of the spectrum, when a player fails to knock down any pins and achieves a gutterball, the animation will typically aim to lighten the mood and make players smile, often featuring exaggerated reactions from the pins or other silly cartoon situations.
Many animations feature the pins coming to life and breaking into a lively dance routine after a strike or spare; in others, pins rearrange themselves in amusing or unusual patterns, such as forming smiley faces, spelling out words, or mimicking famous landmarks. They often reenact slapstick situations like those seen in cartoons.
So who actually makes all these funny screen animations? In almost all cases they come as part of the scoring software employed by the alley, so whatever company they use will create a set of animations. This is the reason why you’ll often see the exact same graphics at many different alleys.
The software usually runs on a dedicated computer, which a savvy alley staff member can use to create and upload custom animations.
Smaller independent alleys sometimes put together rather amateur-ish looking animations (although some great ones have been made too!) while large corporate bowling chains may have dedicated staff to create custom animations alongside other digital job tasks.
These screen animations even went viral on the internet for a period of time. According to Know Your Meme, “Bowling Alley Screen When You Get a Strike refers to a series of memes referencing celebration animations typically shown on TV screens at bowling centers when a player manages to score a strike. The trend received significant spread on Reddit in mid-May 2019.”
Do you have a favorite bowling alley screen animation? If so let us know in the comments below.