Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Game Philosophy & Officiating, part 1

Put simply game philosophy is a unified cohesive conception of what the game is and how it is to be played.

Officiating is the practical adjudication of the game philosophy. The referees, applying the rules (which define the game's elements & actions) oversee the play of the game to assure it reflects the game philosophy as accurately as possible.

Um, maybe so, but what's the point of all this jibber-jabber? I mean we've got a game already, right?
Right, sorta. Yes, we have a game already but if you take a moment to think about how we got the game we have maybe you'll see a value in trying to think about the game divorced from the baggage of our history. (Okay, maybe that's not completely possible but there is a virtue in not having the past overly influence or color one's thinking.) So far competitive paintball is largely composed of remnants of the earliest paintball played, a few fresh ideas and the momentum produced by technology & industry profit. Not exactly Frankenstein's Monster but there is a parallel. We have failed to take control of our sport by creating a foundation for its future development based on a shared philosophy of the game. As a consequence the game has had a kind of life of its own with changes being made piecemeal as a response to changing circumstances.
Not sure? Why do we shoot ramped and/or capped guns? Because rules were changed when the industry produced such guns and the hoppers capable of feeding them--and because they were popular. Why do we play the Race 2 variant of xball? (The most teams ever at WC featured 10-man play.) Why are the bulk of penalties based on removing players from the game? Why are field layouts mirrored halves or symmetrical?
At this stage competitive paintball probably won't end up as a game played from a clean slate conception so how does game philosophy make a useful difference today? New ideas breed new possibilities, new possibilities hold the promise of improving the game. Or making it worse. Or bringing about any number of unintended consequences. A shared game philosophy would mitigate the risk involved in making changes because every change would be considered against the standard provided by a game philosophy.


Reiner Schafer said...

I was thinking about this very thing earlier this morning. Things evolve due to the surrounding environment and the changes in that environment. Paintball is no different. I know it's hard to imagine, but if tournament paintball didn't exist before today, but all the other pieces were in place (i.e. marker and loader technology and paintballs priced as they are today) and people got together to dream up a version of tournament ball, I'm sure it would be completely different than the way it has evolved over the past quarter century.

One of the things that has hurt competitive paintball in the last few years for instance is the slight rise in paint costs (for those that need to buy paint at retail - pretty much everyone starting out). The game had evolved with ever shrinking paint prices, but them there was a little blip of increased prices. That combined with the recession, has had a huge affect, because it's difficult for the game to de-evolve. Everyone still wants to play the game the ways the Pros do, but in affect, the masses can't afford to do that.

Until the game evolves once again into something the masses can afford to participate in, the game's participation level will remain somewhat stagnant (and may decrease if people don't sense some kind of movement towards affordability).

Anonymous said...

I would have to disagree with your thoughts about the price of paint and the sport in general. Paintball has always be expensive no matter what level you play at. I started playing in the woods in 1989 and my first marker was a Splatmaster, a plastic single shot Co2 powered pistol that sold for around $90.00. When it came to paint that was sold to the retailer in bulk then then resold by the ball for $0.10 so for a case of 2000 balls that would be $200.00 before tax. Not that anyone I knew ever bought that much, usually you would buy 200 maybe 300 balls for a long day of paintball in the woods.. Also this was not high grade paint by any means. This was red shell and fill and very brittle, but with not many options it was what is was. Also at a dime a ball if it did'nt break you picked it up and put it back in one of your ten shot loader tubes.

Baca Loco said...

Cost has already had a substantial impact not only on numbers of players but the game played. Race 2 is NOT xball and Race 2-4 is not the same game as Race 2-7. First Xball's match time shrank and then it "evolved" into Race 2. And in Euroland they don't play beyond Race 2-5 in any division and play their multi-match format as a cost saving measure for the league, not the player. Although they claim a trickle down effect on entries.

Missy Q said...

I don't think we should change the game to cater for people that simply can't afford to play it. Better to improve the product and find more people that do have the finances to afford that improved product. The alternative is an ever-decreasing spiral that ends in a poor product, or none at all.
For me this means concentrating on the adult populous, and gearing the product around this demographic. The results of steering towards a younger demographic have been disastrous for the industry both in terms of gross dollars and margins. Fatter margins provoke re-investment, and attract proper business-people. With low margins the best investment you can hope for comes from hobbyists and people that are blinded by enthusiasm for the game, which is short-term at best.
MLP is no different. You can't make it cheaper, as only about 40% of costs for a traveling team are dictated by the industry. Flights, hotels, food, cannot be discounted. If a team can't afford to play MLP, it isn't because it's too expensive, its just that they can't afford it. These 2 things are not mutually exclusive. I want a Porcshe, but writing to the factory and various car magazines has not convinced the company to drop the price of their product by $40,000 so that I can afford one.
Everything has a cost, and if it's out of reach, then that's just the way it is. Do something else, that you can afford.

Reiner Schafer said...

I don't disagree with you Missy Q. The cost, whatever it is, will determine how many people will take part. And if we're OK with fewer people taking part, then so be it. But...costs to run tournaments need to be covered. Somebody has to pay the Piper. Less people participating and sharing in covering the cost, means those that are participating will have to buck up even more. We know the industry is cutting back on the portion they are contributing (donating). In the end, a breakeven formula, whatever the number of participants, needs to be found, or it too ends up being a downward spiral.

Neal said...

@ Missy, Reiner, I don't know if this discussion is exactly what Baca was getting at, but I think the question is one of value. Consumers will pay for an expensive product if the value is there. I do agree that targeting youth for what has always been a luxury sport has proven to be a failure. I do agree that players like affordable tourneys, paint and guns. But I know many divisional players are disgusted with the product they get for the price they pay at a tourney. Can of worms with this digression I have to stop myself...I thought he was talking about a game basically based on cheating from the outset. Rubbin is racin'

Baca Loco said...

I am not, in this instance concerned with cost per se. Nor am I overly concerned with cheating--that's what players do.
The place I'm trying to go is A) how do those involved perceive the game as separate from simply playing the game; B) how and why the game changes; C) what the lack of a unified conception of the game means at the practical level of rules and officiating.

Anonymous said...

What would a 'clean slate' game look like?

Anonymous said...

I feel a world federation should be formed to give the sport credibility and present a united front. It can have several rule sets, i.e. like what FIA has to F1, WRC, etc...