Monday, March 29, 2010

The Monday Poll

It's time, once again, for me to climb up on my soapbox and lay the smack down on the whole paintball as war that is commonplace in much of scenario paintball. I was reminded by this post over at The Catshack Reports for the annual Oklahoma D-Day event.

I don't like it much but I don't want to ban it. I don't think it's wrong in any moral sense, it's pretend after all, but I personally find it disrespectful and I find myself concerned that it trivializes reality. (But so does Call of Duty and most people, even teenaged boys, still understand the difference even if they have no experience that drives that difference home in a meaningful way.) I also think there are degrees involved. For instance, if some promoter wants to reenact Agincourt or Thermopylae I'm fine with that. D-Day and the Tet Offensive, not so much. So maybe I'm inconsistent but even the promoters can't argue it doesn't matter. Ever seen the folks in Oklahoma (or the northern plains) try to run a game based on the Battle of the Little Bighorn? Or the folks in Texas play act the Mexican-American War or even the Alamo?

I also gotta say that ten years ago competitive paintball (and the industry) were busy trying to pretend that combat paintball was the crazy but harmless uncle living in the basement. Today industry considers competitive paintball the One Percenters while they market look-a-like AK's--so go figure. The industry will do whatever turns a buck and that shouldn't surprise anybody.

What's your take? Is the scenario or Big Game tied to actual historical military (combat) events different somehow? Is it a concern? A problem? No big deal? Vote early, vote often. (No, you only get to vote once. This isn't Chicago.)


Mister Q said...

I think you need another option, replica markers are bad for paintball always have been and always will, Europe hates them and the authorities are changing over here.

anonachris said...

Europe loves them from what I've heard. Just not the "right" (err... left?) kind of Europeans.

Your poll is lazy. Options 1 and 2 are basically the same. Option 4 could be true for several of the other answers. And it's very likely for some people option 3 and 6 are true -- it's bad for paintball but I like it. I'd probably put myself in that category. I mean really, who doesn't just smile when you pick up one of those Tippmann or Tiberius guns?

But generally I wish the sport would get away from that image.

So your poll should just ask if milsim style play should stay or go and then we can have some meaningful info.

Anonymous said...

War-Disney is what males have wanted their whole lives, since the begibnning of man - hence 'Cops & Robbers'. 'Cowboys & Indians' & 'Army' games.

Its natural and makes more sense than the 'clowns in bouncy castles' phenomenon.

Baca Loco said...

I appreciate you making the extra effort to keep me on my toes but your crticism is a bigger stretch than me on my toes.

8 year old males, sure. But the facts is most competitive games either have martial antecedents or act as relatively harmless stand-ins. Scenario, on the other han, is "playing army" for those afraid to actually risk winning or losing.

sdawg said...

I don't play tournaments, but I play tourney style paintball. The guys who are into the "milsim" paintball thing strike me as, on the whole, idiot man-children.

sdawg said...

But, then again, so do a lot of the "tourney-style" players I meet. Maybe paintball is the common denominator...

J-Bird said...

i enjoy scenarios...they're a fun time to kick it in the woods with some buddies and have a good time; but i gotta agree with the whole mil-sim thing, it mostly just seems destructive. however, i live by a base and the military guys eat the stuff up; always buying the new BT attachment for the a-5 or something. but yeah, i dont particularly agree with the reenactment of war. dont hear of many Vietnam based games.

anonachris said...

I never thought I could get you on your toes. That's much to presumptuous.
I suppose the poll is about a discussion, not about results.... I just couldn't pick one, because I could probably say, "all or most of the above" would be my answer since they aren't mutually exclusively.

But for argument's sake I'll say bad for paintball. By the time the wrong kid (senator's son or something) or a bunch of kids in the woods gets shot up by the police, or go out pull a columbine and the news reporter shows off the BT collection in his bedroom, we'll be screwed.

Just like the crap that Germany is trying to pull. Years ago, you could point to JT, Dye, etc. and say, "see look paintball is moving away from that."

Try saying that now... paintball is actively pursuing that. How can you actually say, "that's not paintball" when that is pretty much the only thing that is being sold right now! And it's selling because it's cool as hell. And just happens to be bad for the future of the sport.

J-Bird said...

sport vs. game is what it boils down to.

Reiner Schafer said...

As the operator of a recreational paintball field, I have to admit that the dressup that those playing soldier take part in when playing paintball makes me cringe a little. The fact that most seem to feel the need to shoot huge amounts of paintballs on recreational fields doesn't help.

I don't cater to tournament style paintball at my field, but in all honesty, if I had to choose, I'd rather see tournament ball be representative of paintball than Milsim taking that roll.

Don Saavedra said...

I think people are smart enough to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

Reiner Schafer said...

Don, you are right. But having to go to war and possibly killing people isn't something to trivialize, in my opinion. I'm not fanatically against people playing make-believe soldier, but I have to admit that I do find it a little wierd.

I certainly don't feel it shows honour or respect for the guys that are doing the real thing. I have met some people who have gone through some horrific things in combat and I'm sure they wouldn't think much of these man-children playing fantasy soldier.

anonachris said...

Well hell if we can't trivialize death, violence, and disfigurement what they hell can we trivialize?

Anonymous said...

Tribes under the big red... always fighting each other. :)

Anyway, lets follow the money.

Obs. there is two large groups that bring the paintball industry its cash. Rec-ballers and sport-ballers. If we look at paint consumption, sports require much more high grade paint than rec, but there is synergy. All the patches that wont fit the sports category are sold for rec usage. Paint firms prefer both, more paint consumed happier they are.

Gun manufacturers prefer sports by high margin. Recballer guns are sold cheap and often rented, yielding low profit margins. Sport guns can be sold for much more profit, and often with yearly release. We saw what happened to SP, sell too cheap sport guns and you end up done. The few who make milsim markers are so small, they have no impact on grand scale of things.

Clothing, is more about branding than anything else. Everyone likes good looking, good quality clothing, but the money is on sports side. Even recballers who own their gun, do not buy nearly as much clothing as sports side does.

TLDR: Money is on the sports. Problem is its not growing fast enough.

Desperation reeks in and paintball industry taps into milsim and tries to embrace the gunnuts, forgetting the 2 main groups in pb, recballers and sports. This however, is a stupid act. Not only they cause problems to the image of pb, but fail to understand that airsoft is taking over the milsim world by storm and young kids who go for milsim-oriented stuff, will take airsoft over pb.

So not only pb is screwing their own future by trashing the reputation built in last 10 years, but they are doing it into target group that is not going to grown because better alternative (airsoft) is going to take the milsim market in next decade.

What is the fix? Disown milsim, encourage recball growth to general public as fun past time like go-carting or similar activity. Promote the speedball as a sport, not just extreme sport but as tactical and innovative sport. Trash agg-shit and encourage the team aspect of the sport over individuality. Organize age groups and set different rules for them, just like hockey has.

Too long, I know.

Missy Q said...

Or we could just make it an over 18 sport, and stop worrying about the kids altogether. At that stage does it really matter what incarnation of paintball is being played? You can't say "what are we doing to our children" if they arn't allowed to play.

Anonymous said...

Anon disagrees Missy!

Its not about making pb over 18 sport. Its about regulation. Kid or teen playing any other sport is not allowed to do things as adults do on the field. Why? Simply because child is not suited to carry responsibility that comes with that.

In paintball, kids shooting mens or even pro ROF's, they mimic attitude and manners of men in very competitive situations and apply these on everyday play on their local fields.

Without rules and restrictions that imply that you are still a child, playing with rules tailored for juniors and enforced would clean up pb scene alot, same way it does on other sports.

Problem is that in pb, kids play with men and this is even encouraged, what is a doomed practice, especially in high adrenaline, extremish sport.

Without telling the child, kid, teen or whatever you call it, that he is not yet capable of handling same rules and equipment in its full potential and actually paying attention to this, would change atmosphere and attitudes towards new players faster than anything else.

All this, I can be just like pro, shoot the guns pro shoots, act like an arrogant athlete comes down to simple fact that there is no restrictions for children, that teens are, from doing so.

Age groups should govern things like ROF, game length, ramping or semi, overshooting and penalties from attitudes.

Reiner Schafer said...

Anon. That's fine for the tournament end of play. I've been saying for years that it would make more sense tohave the lower divisions in competitivie play under different rules with limiting technology, ROF, or both. Since ost of the younger players are in the lower divisions, this would accomplish very much what you are talking about. once a plyer hits the big leagues, than they are most likely mature and resposible enough to handle more limitless rules.

But it doesn't work well in recreational (woodsball) play. It doesn't make sense to limit some players in a game just because they are younger unless they are all in the same category in the group (ie kid's birthday party). Having said that, I am a firm believer that recball should be played differently anyway, that the ROF should be severely limited. For everyone, not just young players. If players want to play like the Pros, then they should join a team, work their way up the ranks, and play tourney ball.

As an aside, I believe this is the biggest reason tournamen paintball has seen such big declines over the past years. As technology increased and paint prices dropped at the local recreational field, players that once got their high adrenaline jollies moving on to tournament paintball, haven't needed to do that for quite a while. They can get those jollies in the woods, buying cases of cheap paint from the desperate stupid recball field owner.

J-Bird said...

problem is, if you're only allowed to play with people around your age, you're going to see the number of teams drop dramatically; and then you're going to have a huge difference in skill. If we're talking about classification by age, that would put me playing with 90% of division 2+ players (20 years old).

id be interested to see what the group on here could come up with as a way for a speedball field to be "profitable" and successful; even with limited teams in an area.

Reiner Schafer said...

I agree J-Bird. That is why I would have different rules limiting technology and/or ROF by divisions, not age. Give new players and those not that skilled a considerably less stressful environment to learn the game in. I know this happens already automatically because the better players move up, but make it severely more handicapped.

This accomplishes two main goals. First, new players aren't immediately thrown to the wolves where they have to cope with huge volumes of balls that will hinder them learning the basics. Second, those that just can't stand to be limited by technology and/or ROF will want to work that much harder to make it up to the higher levels, where they won't be handicapped as severely.

Paintball is one of the few sports where we have physical contact (yes, paintballs hitting another player is physical contact), where we let beginners play by virtually the same rules as pros. It really makes no sense, to me anyway.

Anonymous said...

The age brackets do not have to be so brutal at older age. We could have something easy, like, x->16, 16->men and it would achieve the culture change. If more restrictions would be deemed in time, another bracket could be created for 16->18.

x->16, ROF 5.0, major penalties for overshooting, semi-auto, no ramping.

16->18, ROF 10.5, ramping, normal rules.

Men, ROF 15.0, ramping, normal rules.

Just an example. Might even generate more teams to leagues.

Anonymous said...

Regarding profitable speedball field, I don't think you can make field that solely gets income from speedball profitable.

Reason is the price of practice paint, teams can't practice enough to keep the booking full. If you look at booking for lets say, any more established sport you will notice that their fields are rented monday-friday from 1600->2300! And on weekends, its full booking from 0800 onwards.. Single team often practices 4 days a week on that field!

Problem is that our sport relies on paint so much, everyone outside top pro tier can not finance practice more than once a week. Growth of speedball as a sport is hindered that you are required to pay up to 120 bucks per single practice! (2 cases, entrance, transportation)

No other popular or even fringe sport costs that much.

Until a cheap, 5-10 bucks practice paint is made or new technology figured out paintball teams can't practice as a sport teams and your speedball fields booking will look horrible in terms of usage and not profitable.

And don't mention reballs, something you shoot indoors at 250fps to get it fly straight and have constant issues in trying to figure out where you hit or not, is not the solution.

Reiner Schafer said...

Exactly anon. I have always said that tournament paintball is not a good thing to build a business model around. Sure if you happen to have a field in a highly populated area and your field is THE field that everyone wants to gather at (much like THE bar or nightclub that happens to be the flavour of the month), you can be quite successful. Overall though, it's a tough business model. That will never change. People used to think that it would change when pazint prices dropped from $120 to $90. Then they thoght it would get better if prices dropped to $80, $70, $60, $50, and $40. But it hasn't, has it? It's not going to change when priced drop to $30 or $20 either.

The other side to that dropping price situation is that as the paint becomes more affordable, more is shot on any given day. As more is shot and the game gets even more extreme, a smaller and smaller amount of the population will want to take part. That's the reality of the situation, even if those that are involved now don't want to see it.

anonachris said...

I've never played paintball where people did not have fun because too much paint was shot.

I've seen people/kids get shot way too much and get pretty mad about it (and go back out the next game and shrug it off).

But I don't know where you equate more paint being shot on the field with less fun. Maybe it's simply your preference since you show off your stock class gun with pride?

But I know the rec games I've played, where I was the guy shooting a ton of paint, giving people I didn't know "cover fire", moving up the field with strangers, etc. they all had a great time and were pretty happy that I had 700 rounds on my back each game.

I guess it depends on how it's played though. When in a rec situation I find it more fun to move forward and backwards on the field, shooting a lot of paint at various guys, helping people move up, probing for an opening/weakness/lucky shot and if nothing comes, I work my way to another side of the field. In a rec situation that is.... It doesn't mean dumping so much paint into a single bunker for an entire game, or shooting a guy 20 times just because you can.

But it's fun as hell to shoot a lot of paint in the middle of a gun fight with 3-4 different guys on all sides of you.

Anonymous said...

No shame:

Thank god his new loaders suck so I don't have to buy anything empire.


Excessive shooting has never been a problem in competetive paintball in terms of players being frightened or not wanting to play because amount of paint in the air. It has more been about tactical and gameplay related issue. For young <16 teens it might be bit hard, but thats why I encourage lower rofs for kids.

Its quite fun to see two speedball players shooting each other for laughs until one gives up. Often this leads to both players stopping because they can't see eachother anymore due paint covering the whole mask. :)

So, its a money related issue. You have to understand when paint costed 120$ a case, you could get by a full practice with a half of a case or bit more. As paint price came down, we also started to shoot more. Now we are shooting as much as we want, but paint just is not cheap enough for multiple practice days.

When practice paint hits 10$ a case, sport of paintball will get massivly more popular and speedball only fields can make a real business.

Could recball then be a casulty of the sport? Don't know, but its up to recball field owners to regulate so that practices they seem harming don't appear on their recball field.

What I do know, is that when paint price hits 10$ a case for practice, we will start to practice 3-4 days a week like a real sport, increasing field usage massivly. (and thus, making commericial fields that solely cater sport of paintball, very viable)

anonachris said...

Anon, (I'm actually not sure if your $10 post is sarcasm)

But if tournaments were limited to hopper ball or hopper + pod ball, you could practice several days a week without any change in case price all at the same cost.

This is completely ignoring the economics of it. A low case price means low profit margin. You'd have to sell every times the current volume of paint to make up the difference. The relationship is not linear. It's not like prices get cut in half, so you have to sell twice as much to be at the same point.

Profit margins would take a huge hit and the volume of sales would have to increase by 4x at least. I think what would happen is most players would say, "thanks for the savings" and play the same amount.

The hard core guys would train 6 more times a year than they normally do (how often can you really get a team together to practice).

Anonymous said...

It was a bit of sarcasm, but also outlined some sort of future.

Problem you have, is that you don't see things outside paintball it seems. How does dozens and dozens different sports that sell no game related consumables manage to run great fields with profit?

Entrance fee and high booking. Your average PB field gets sundays full and random business groups and bday parties on weekdays. Thats it.

If speedball was cheap to practice, lets say you outsold 3 fields 6 days a week for average 8 hour period each day - the revenue for field rental for 2 hours sets would be more in a week than current fields make in a month. Full rental for 12 hours on weekends, and 6ish hours every working day.

There is plenty of kids and grownup men in sports like football, soccer, icehockey, basketball, golf and even on fucking skatebording or god damn pool that people practice more than 4 days a week on regular basics.

How would this be impossible for paintball? Only because we are too expensive sport and stuck on sundays.

J-Bird said...

true, but in all those sports you dont have many practice "days" -- you meet after school for an hour or two, then head home. How much do you charge for rental of just those two hours?

i think this also has something to do with how teams practice. Paintball "practice" has become synonymous with "scrimmage." This rental model might work if a coach says: "we will practice three times a week and scrimmage once ever two weeks. For each practice, you'll need a bag which will cost 15$ and at scrimmages you'll need one case." But then the question: how much can you do with 500 shots? that limits you to only 2ish hoppers for a two hoppers.

reball is the solution! :P (*in a more distanced voice* now if only there was some way to pick them up quickly!!)

Reiner Schafer said...

You "anons" really need to use some names. it's getting way too confusing.

Anon # 3 (I think) regarding: $10 cases.

I know lots of field owners that will quit being field owners if paint ever got to that price. It would be a nightmare.

As far as paintball getting more popular at those prices. Paintball isn't soccer or baseball. You could make paintball absolutely free and there would still be lots that would not want to take part (probably especially if the ammo would be unlimited and free).

Anonachris, regarding: "I've never played paintball where people did not have fun because too much paint was shot."

Really? Never?

As far as myself enjoying playing in a low volume environment, absolutely, I enjoy that more. Me and the majority of people on this planet.

anonachris said...

So it's your contention that guns which shoot high volumes and loaders which sustain it, were forced on the market, and people didn't really want to buy them....

I've never played paintball where people didn't not like shooting a lot of paint. This is fundamentally different than over shooting someone. Now I'm not saying the sky is the limit. But people like to have machine gun rates of fire - 10, 12, 15 bps.

Anonymous said...

half the problem with practicing the way we do now is we are simply practicing how to play a field, not how to play paintball. Instead of memorize the field layout of the week by dumping skids of paint, my team sets up a random layout(often not even mirrored so that we work on our communication better) and we play with pumps, everyone.

field walking is an art, and not too many teams can succesfully do it. screw pre-releasing the layouts, thats in itself hurts more than the prices.

Because we use pumps for practice we can play with rec players, private groups (if they want), scenario, etc. Noone gets overshot, everyone walks away telling us how much fun they had with big smiles on their face. Noone gets intimitaded by us, and often we teach the rec groups how to beat us game after game. The first couple games we always roll the rec-groups, but then as they realize its all about confidence and they loosen up a little most of the time they give us a good match, they tend to think outside the box alot more, and sometimes teach us things we havent thought of.

Ive even had people add our team on facebook to plan their private parties around our practice shedule.

anonachris said...

I'm glad you guys are having fun. It sounds fun and that's what it's about if you recognize you're not going to be a final 4 team every event. But how does your might ducks practice routine translate into wins on the field? Flying V!!!

Reiner Schafer said...

Absolutely they were demanded. When you are up against an enemy or even playing a game, who wouldn't want an advantage? It was demanded and the manufacturers were more than willing to supply.

And yes, lots of people like shooting fast guns and lots of paintballs. Heck, even I like to stand at a target range and let lose every once in a while. If I wasn't a field owner, there would be moments where I would probably even grab my paint slinger and teach the moron on hte field a lesson. These are all natural human tendancies.

However, that doesn't change the fact that the majority of the people on the planet don't want to play a game where they have high volumes of paintballs shot at them.

I see it every weekend. There are usually one or two uys that let lose at the target range (or possibly even on the field) for a few seconds. I see the amazement in all the new players' eyes, but I also see the concern (worry or fear) in many of them.

I see the players hiding behind a bunker, with their back to it, listening to the constant barrage of paintballs hitting their bunker. They aren't even interested in trying to take a peak around the corner to see if they can shoot or move. Now I know what you are going to say, that those people should probably not play paintball anyway. But why not? Why are we so determined to only attract the people who are willing to step into a high paintball environment right away? Do we just not care about the rest of the population? About the majority of the population?

I do and I've built a solid business around it, as have many other field owners. But we are in the minority it seems. For some reason, most that work in the industry, think like "regulars", like players already involved heavily in paintball. This is probably because most working in the industry are or were regulars and they take their experience and relate it to their jobs. That's a natural thing to do. But that thinking has cost us a lot of potential new regulars, who never make it past the cowering behind their bunker stage or are fearful of getting into competitive paintball because they "heard" the competitive players playing, shooting non stop strings of paintball and have in inclination to even give it a try.

If we made new hockey players step on the ice with full body contact when they first started out, hockey would be in a major decline state as well. Those running paintball and most of those involved in paintball seem to have lost touch with common sense.

anonachris said...

Ok ok, I retreat. Clearly it's no fun going up against someone who will overwhelm you with a barrage of words, err... I mean paintballs.


Reiner Schafer said...

Sorry Chris. I guess I'm just passionalte about the game/sport/industry and have a problem getting my point across in few words. The interesting thing is that when I was in school, the subjects I hated the most were the ones where you needed to write lots (ie English and Social Studies). My favorite and strongest subjects were the logical one (Sciences and Math).