Thursday, October 22, 2009

Paintball Media: When More Is Less

Confused? If not I'm losing my touch but all will come clear quickly. (Alliteration rocks!) This is, by the way, Part 2, of a paintball media series begun with 'Paintball & Media, part 1'. If you're wondering about the title switcheroo just thinking about typing Paintball & Media, part 2 bored me blind--so I didn't. Sure, it might've been easier for you but since when did that matter? That's right, never. Good to see we're on the same page.

The first part concluded with the observation that with the demise of the paintball magazine (mostly) that no other media had really taken their place as a portal into the game for those who don't already play. [Okay, of the surviving mags we all know APG has the greatest reach and has always been a significant first point of contact--and probably still is--even if that knowledge makes us cringe just a little bit. Or is that just me?]

A magazine was (is) an easy access, all things paintball to all people that offered, often unintentionally and even passively, an invitation to join the fun. Maybe it's me but I don't get that from most paintball media today. Modern media outlets and sites are fragmented and their products are targeted--mostly to existing players. Each one designed to serve a narrow purpose. There are stores, forums, blogs, team sites, video sites, dedicated business & team & player sites on places like Facebook, more stores, local field information sites, gossip sites, tournament series sites, industry sites, online magazines and a few general interest and/or paintball information sites ( that often go long stretches without being updated or only provide generic content.) Most of these are niche elements focused on serving a specific function and, as a practical matter, are aimed at existing players. Sure, there is some overlap and any one of these sorts of sites might grab the attention of a non-player but that isn't what the sites are about. Hundreds and hundreds of different paintball-related sites and almost none of them are dedicated to communicating the thrill of the game to those who haven't played it already. And that goes for other media as well. Stuff like DVDs and free webcasts and, despite their best intentions, much of what has made it onto TV was, at best, a display of paintball but seldom a celebration of the game or the sport. A reason to want to participate.

Today, right now, more (and more diverse) media is less because the paintball-related outlets that exist tend to specialize and focus on attracting and serving elements of the existing player base. But there isn't any blame to be assigned here. Many of the media outlets were never intended to be paintball outreach and for the few that are it's difficult to find ways to make it feasible if not profitable. It's a new and developing world and we're still learning. Things can (and will) change. Right now the challenge is to find ways to exploit the opportunity that exists, to find new and creative ways to attract non-ballers to try paintball. For example, could a new broad-based outreach campaign be a part of what the PSTA becomes? And there are already some websites looking to act as clearing houses for news and information. How many steps beyond that is it to becoming something more, an enticement, an open invitation to the non-baller to get into the game?

Paintball needs, maybe now more than ever, to inform, educate and excite non-ballers to the thrill of the game.


Anonymous said...

The market is different now. For the purposes of being a self centered American I will make the US the sample from which I will pull my imaginary statistics.

Everyone in the US has heard of paintball. Either they saw it at some multi purpose action park that had a field or they went to a birthday party, batchlor party, church outing, etc.

At this point I'm prepared to make the leap and say either a person has played paintball and made up their mind already or they have a close friend or family member who has played and has given them enough information that they have made a decision about the game off that.

Sure there are plenty of people who have never played, but how many of them have a big brother or friend that went and came back and told him how getting shot was a being hit with a 90mph fastball or that there was a ton of pros there with full auto guns and they didn't have any fun because they couldn't keep up because of the shitty rentals.

The only thing that is going to change this is to find those people who havn't played and the people who played once and had a bad experience. Take them by the hand and convince them to try. A magazine isn't going to do that. Baca you've always written very interesting articles, but they are directed at paintball players and its often a very cynical view point. What does that bring for the person who's never played before.

Your "support Paintball" campain is a better approach by 10 fold becuase we need paintball players, speaking possitivly about the sport, trying to get new people invovled, get word of mouth going and people having a good time at the field to turn this around.

Plus be honest it took knowing exactly what two stores near you had a paintball magazine and then another 5 min digging to the back to find them. No one ever stumbled into a paintball magazine and said HOLY SHIT! What is this crazy thing I've never heard of, I gotta try this paintball thing!

Years ago the sport was all new to everyone, people had more discretionary spending money, and the people that played were all still very positive about the sport and getting new players involved.

Start the battle cry back up SUPPORT PAINTBALL!!!!!!

Crusificton said...

At least Mike Phillips has made an effort to provide information to new players via video fireside type talks.

Reiner Schafer said...

APG is still around and there are plenty of resources for new players. New players don't want to stay "new" for long, if that makes sense. Anyone that wants to take up the sport has lots of places to go. Almost every paintball forum for instance has a new player section.

I agree with Frank in that there are very few people who haven't at least heard of paintball. Very few stumble onto paintball magazines or internet sites. Most are at that point looking for information.

raehl said...

Lots of people have heard of paintball, but I think there are still a lot of people out there who have not heard that paintball is fun, totally new experience they can do with their friends this Saturday for $50.

That's what we have to figure out how to tell people.

- Chris

Anonymous said...

I think the Support Paintball idea is a good one. More people need to realize that they can be ambassadors of the sport. Try being a stand up player at a field rather than being a douchebag and lighting up newbs during recball. I think we are too hunkered down right now protecting what very little we have and promoting everything from within. The problem is also since our resources are so limited and time is precious, we spend it keeping what player base we have satisfied with the media outlets we can. I too have been guilty of not doing my part. I was asked to do a park promo video about a year ago, and have not found the desire or interest to make it happen. So I think we can all do more but I would like to see a movement within the industry to consolidate and maximize our efforts. Whether that be grassroots our some industry group.

Baca Loco said...

And I agree with Frank too--since I made that very point in Part 1--and it's part of the problem but y'all are putting the threshold at the wrong point.
Do new players want to progress? Of course they do but they are, by definition, already players. And Mike doubtless provides useful understandable information but again--wrong threshold. And forums attract players and are aimed at players--not non-players.
At a time when paintball no longer attracts many players due to discovery that means paintball must now compete for the interest and choices of current non-players (future players) and that is a dynamic not being addressed.

And since this is the second time Faction and I are in basic agreement lately I'm going to have to assume he's coming around. ;-)

Reiner Schafer said...

"he's coming around." Or vice versa.

Crusificton said...

But the videos at least give something for people curious about the sport to look to. I can understand how magazines may spark the curiosity of a few readers, but every time I've gone to Barnes and Noble or Borders, the magazine has been hidden. Only the trained eye would know where to look for it. Typically somewhere between guns and ammo and skateboard magazines.

I think for the next 10-20+ years paintball will still mostly rely upon word of mouth recommendations rather than advertisement. Every sport went through a long period of being unappreciated.

This is no different. It's a modern sport with modern telecommunication mediums that must also pay its dues. Just like Football, Soccer, Basketball, Baseball, etc.

The cause for determining the best course of attracting non-players will elude us for sometime. Just as attracting more women to the game has.

Baca Loco said...

The real way to build paintball from the ground up is thru amateur paintball in the university system and high schools.

Crusificton said...

Trying to win over a system that follows the axiom "Zero-Tolerance" will not tolerate paintball. It's a stigma we really can't shed, nor are we likely too.

The 17 and younger age group poses many unique problems. You must win over the conservative PTA, school board, parents, and faculty. And, even after you win them over your market hinges upon the whims of the parents pocketbook.

I don't feel there is a clear cut answer such as saying Universities and High Schools are the solution.

It personally took me years to get into the game even though I was interested. No one I knew took me so I never went. When I finally got it together and organized a day of going out it was also almost my last time playing. I played with friends and rentals that were better for shooting around corners than straight, until some experienced players joined in and bunkered or lit us up each game.

How many players quit after their first time playing? It's hard to say. How many people just don't feel comfortable of going out to a field by themselves to try it out? I would say there is a huge majority of people like that.

There is a significant difference between bouncing a basketball in your driveway and donning paintball gear. If a group of kids play baseball and smash a neighbors window then they were just being kids and replace the window or some other minor penalty. If kids shoot each other with paintball markers in their neighborhood and hit a neighbors window then they're vandals and bad seeds.

Does our style also retard attendance? How many people just feel uncomfortable by all camo and motocross type clothes?

Would more women play if it hurt less? Maybe .50cal will help with that.

There are so many things we have to look at to better understand why people don't play or why they stop.

Reiner Schafer said...

I know this sounds simplistic, but people play paintball because they have fun and they don't come back a second time if they didn't have fun. How do you get them there the first time? Make sure their friends/coworkers/neighbors/aquantances had fun when they played.

The problem is "fun" is a subjective thing. What's fun for one person may be boring or too intense for another. I can guarantee you that if we tone paintball down, a larger number of first timers will have fun. But is that what we want, paintball to be toned down for the sake of more participants?

Personally I think we can have both. Toned down paintball for new/casual players and more extrem paintball for those that want to go onto that. Hell! Isn't that we used to have 15 years ago? Back when paintball was growing like there was no tomorrow? Yeah we did. But we changed it. Now when the new player goes to his local rec field he's met with the same equipment the "extreme" players have and paintballs priced low enough to enable that equipment to become lethal. Why did we change it? I don't know, but the more important question is, how do we get back?

Baca, too funny!

Anonymous said...

Baca I'm starting to worry that your password has been compromised....

raehl said...

Amateur college and high school paintball isn't the direct solution, but it can be the carrot that gets the kids who are already serious paintball players to reach out to non-players.

Crusificton said...

I think the easiest sell for non-players is going to be woodsball rather than tournament/airball. It makes more sense to non-players to see people play soldier rather than run into air filled bunkers and attack each other at close range while wearing moto cross gear.

anonachris said...

You make attacking each other while wearing moto cross gear sound more exciting.

Just introduce a little bit of American Gladiators and we're gold!