Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Women & Paintball

And of course, girls. Chicks. Babes. You name 'em, it's cool. I was tempted to call this post 'Paintball & the Irrational Sex' but this is supposed to be a serious post (more or less) and while the comments would'a been fantastic--the more frothing the better--I decided to forgo a purely personal pleasure for the good of the paintball community. (Did you believe one word of that last bit? Me either. Obviously I need a marketing guy, or gal.)
I was perusing the paintball web checking out the latest news, rumors & gossip and ran into a couple of (quasi-) related items. One was a thread in the field/store owners forum at PBN and the other was a press release post at the Big Bullet. The former was about why girls are less interested in paintball than guys are and the later was soliciting nominations for PBWoman.com's PB Woman of the Year for 2011. (You may have noticed they announced their 2010 award at Living Legends 3 last month.) Anyway it's a standard ploy for self-promotion. Everybody does it and all you really need to know is that the next award recipient will be chosen by the website's sponsors (?) and a panel of 9 judges--and that the PBWoman website couldn't come up with enough women in paintball to fill their own panel of judges. Which leads me to the (slightly) more interesting and general topic of women & paintball.
Women & paintball is a recurring topic of discussion. At least in certain quarters. One that always seems to get hung up on how to "fix" the "problem" of too few female participants with (mostly) the same old same old. For example a few years ago Pete 'Robbo' Robinson excoriated the then Jerry Braun run World Cup for not providing female friendly facilities even though the event was being held in an acknowledged cow pasture--and it seems to have set a tone because most of the "answers" revolve around changing things to better suit the female temperament. Ideas run from the commonplace of bars and clubs (ladies nights) to special discounts, indoor plumbing, etc. At this rate fresh ideas will be reduced to cleaning up the place a bit; tidier bunkers, maybe vacuum once in a while, dial down the competition perhaps and do we really need winners & losers? Before long somebody is gonna notice girls don't like guns very much and then where are we?
I once wrote a VFTD column for PGi magazine entitled, The Shocking Exploitation of Girls in Paintball, that deals with girls playing tourney paintball but never got around to addressing the supposed dearth of women in paintball generally. Until now. It's really quite simple. It may not be PC but geez, it ain't rocket science or brain surgery either. I hate to break it to you like this but girls are different. And being different the vast majority aren't attracted to paintball. That's it. It's not that they can't play, they can. They just don't want to. The things about paintball that appeal to guys don't appeal to girls in anything like equal measure. If they did the whole idea of trying to get more girls playing would be moot--they'd already be playing. Imagine you are an ice cream salesman and half the people in the world love ice cream and half don't. How productive is it to spend your time trying to sell ice cream to the half that don't like it? Instead of wasting time, energy and resources trying to increase the percentage of female players do something productive. Like figure out how to get (and keep) more guys playing the game.

20 comments:

raehl said...

What if, as a purveyor of ice cream, you realize you can double your number of customers at minimal additional cost by also offering frozen yogurt?

Yes, women may not be attracted to paintball the way it exists now. But are there trivial changes we could make that would make it more attractive to a much larger pool of customers? (And I'm looking entirely at the rec angle here.)

Baca Loco said...

As soon as you discover what these minimal cost, trivial changes are on planet Faction be sure to let those of us living on planet Earth know all about it.

raehl said...
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Reiner Schafer said...

All Hail the Emperor! funny stuff.

I bet something along the lines of Billy Ball paintball, had it been seriously tried, would have attracted not only a larger percentage of women but also less aggressive guys and teens.

I agree 100% with Baca that women are different and for the most part just aren't ever going to like paintball the way it currently gets played in the world. But they seem to have no problem with Laser Tag. Billy Ball, although still paintball, is in my opinion, somewhere between "real" paintball and Lasertag. Maybe a little closer to real paintball than Lasertag, but still, different enough that a larger percentage of females would probably take part.

Baca Loco said...

Is 'Billy Ball' just not as off putting or will girls actively want to play? (Not) If it's just not as off putting then sure, a few more will be willing to play but the majority of the time something or someone else will have to motivate then to show up in the first place.

Reiner Schafer said...

Girls are different, as has been stated. One thing they do share with men is that at times, they want to have fun and that is really what the discussion is about.

To answer your question, yes it's less off putting. Some (probably most) are still not going to take part because they still won't like the pain even in the less extreme environment. But we all know there are lots of girls that think paintball is fun (just as there are guys that think it's not). Having a less extreme version (.5 bps) is most likely going to appeal to a larger portion of the gentler sex (more of them are going to have fun). As long as the format is more fun for them, then it will grow, just as paintball has always grown in the past, just mostly for guys. They try it. They have fun. They come again, this time with friends. So just like it has been for guys the last quarter century, as long as the format is fun for women, they too will self motivate themselves.

But in hte end, there will never be the same amount of girls at a paintball field (no matter how tame we make it) than guys. Girls don't l;ike as much pain and they don't like to get dirty (I'm generalizing of course).

Baca Loco said...

Reiner
Is a Billy Ball type option going to bring into the game more new guys or new girls? If you say guys then you need to stop trying to qualify your responses and just agree with me--without the buts. :-)

Reiner Schafer said...

I don't think it's possible to make changes or offer a new product that is going to attract just more girls and no one else unless you actually restrict anyone else from taking part.

so your just being silly Baca. But maybe that's what you were going for.

J-Bird said...

i've got something interesting:

my girlfriend enjoys paintball, a lot. When we first started dating I took her to a practice my team was having and explained how the game worked, showed her the markers and by the end of the day she wanted to play ironman with us (lol).

Anyway, she really enjoys the SPORT of paintball; hates the GAME. I took her to a woods field to see how she liked that and she hated it: couldnt understand what was happening and was bored as mess. So when we go out, we stick to the speedball course.

The problem is that we dont go out often, if at all. Girls are not nearly as ready to drop $500 on paintball gear to go play with their friends because well...they dont do that. So im trying to coax her into pump play so that she can enjoy the speedball field, cheaply. She has no desire to play in the woods and wishes she could play tournaments, but just cant afford it.

just an interesting situation that i think might speak to "bringing in" female ballers.

raehl said...

J-Bird, it's funny you bring that up. All my girlfriends at some point had to take the paintball test. At the point I met my wife, I was pretty much playing 100% speedball, and she ended up playing with the local girl's team. But her experience is 100% speedball. She played living legends this past time and was having trouble adjusting to the woodsball environment. Note that my wife has zero athletic/outdoorsy/dirty experience outside paintball.

My sister on the other hand started playing back when I was still in high school so her experience is all woodsball. She had a great time at LL3. She also has a lot of athletic/outdoorsy/dirty experience (high school soccer, camping, etc... still plays in ultimate and soccer leagues as a adult.)

All that aside, they key takeaway is still probably that the girls played because I was playing.

Missy Q said...

When I was a kid, and we went out to 'play army' with gun-shaped sticks, the girls thought this was 'stupid' and instead played with their dolls, and practiced making tea/sandwiches.
There was always that one girl that wanted to play, but her machine-gun noises were sub-par, and she didn't really 'get it'.

So, in closing - Chicks aren't into 'army', unless they are slightly wierd, or possibly lesbian (nothing wrong with that btw). This could explain the large influx of lesbians into Paintball in the early 90's.

Baca's right, any marketing funds spent specifically targeting females are likely to be wasted.

Missy Q said...

Also, Faction, where do you get off with the 'all my girlfriends' comment? Are we meant to believe that you have a large back-catalogue of female conquests?

Missy Q said...

ps. Billy-ball (or bankruptcy-ball as I like to call it) sucks.
Save the money on set-up, just use broken electronic guns from 97/98. They only fire every couple of seconds anyway, and technically you're recycling...

Baca Loco said...

C'mon, Missy, he's the Emporer of planet Faction. Everybody knows chicks dig powerful men & computer nerds.

raehl said...
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raehl said...

The nice thing about "all" is it covers all numbers, including 1. But of course, I wouldn't mind if anyone wanted to assume "all" meant, say, 30. Cause everyone knows it's the skinny, pale, basement-dwelling nerds that get the girls.

I wouldn't advise expending significant effort to chase the female gender as a customer. But there might be low-cost opportunities to change paintball a bit that make it more appealing to women. Paintball doesn't, necessarily, have to be marketed as army, even if that's the easiest way to market it.

Anonymous said...

Oy. The stereotypical response to just about all of this would be: "with these kinds of attitudes, it's no wonder more women don't play".

Knuckle draggers.

Baca Loco said...

Hey Anon
Good effort but pretty pedestrian response. Feel free to try again--and maybe even address the original post.

Anonymous said...

I'm a woman, and I play paintball.. I love paintball, and I don't see any need to 'girlie' the game to get more women to play. I started playing because my brother handed me a marker and dragged me out to the field, but before that, I didn't know anything at all about the game. You want women to play? Tell them about paintball, and drag them out to play with you. Some will love it, some will hate it and some will flat out refuse to try it. Thing is, they have to know about it, it's not like paintball shows up in Cosmo very often....

Baca Loco said...

Thanks Anon
A whiff of simple common sense and an acknowledgement of how things work--for guys and girls, by and large.
Enjoy.