Hang on, I almost forgot video, the majority of which features wretched music and short snippets of discontinuous action edited together seemingly without rhyme or reason. I am assured that such scattershot video does, now and again, grab the imagination sufficiently to get some people to try paintball. Yo-kay.
Btw, in case you missed it--and how is that even possible?--there was a part 1 and this is the second post in a two post series. Go back and read the first one for the full flavor.
Fortunately there is one other sort of video that is gaining both attention and new practitioners. Pioneered by Pat Spohrer with 'Push' (more than a decade ago) it's paintball as narrative. It tells a story and puts all the action, excitement, personalities, joys and sorrows into context. And the story is what makes all the diverse elements of the game accessible to those who have not played it before. And it's the story that connects with the similar stories of those who already play, a recognition that we share more than the game in common. More recently Dan Napoli and Brad Maugham have been creating small gems like the 'Artifact' series and the latest season of 'The Roster' in their telling of the stories of paintball, both unique and universal. Lately the Derder crew have begun producing documentaries featuring some of the most well known teams in the sport. While made for an audience of ballers these stories of paintball also offer a portal into the world of paintball for those on the outside looking in.
But the same claim applies to one degree or another to any and every form of media. The real issue is effectiveness and outreach. What percentage of people who see a gallery of still photos will be moved to play? And how is that gallery of images put in front of an audience? Or a YouTube video or a show on SKY 3000 TV for that matter.
Which leaves us with the webcast(s), diverse online entities that focus on paintball (like this blog or Social Paintball or PBN) and social media. Is the webcast really a vehicle aimed at outreach? I don't think so--even if it happens to serve that function now and again. It's really about providing high level competitive paintball access to a niche target audience. Can its very existence build that audience? I think it can but to what degree and for how long or at what cost are relevant questions. Then there's paintball on the web. Undoubtedly new peeps discover or rediscover paintball daily via the web but it is a passive activity and relies on a searcher to make progress. Even so, there has to be something there to find. Otherwise most web based paintball sites are really targeting the existing player base. But maybe social media is different. (It's not.) You may have "friends" all around the world but if you're serious about your paintball odds are most of those friends are too. And your *real* friends and family are all perfectly well aware of your paintball obsession without the aid of Facebook and if they were ever going to play they would have already. I'm not saying nobody ever finds paintball on social media but I am saying social media is less social than you might think and is more like inclusive circles of friends that in places overlap and where they do it's because of primary shared interests, like paintball, so that in the end it's mostly preaching to the choir.
The way to make media work for paintball goes something like this; solicit Justin Bieber's agent and find out what it would take to get the Bieb to start tweeting about how much he loves to play paintball whenever he's not on the road and make sure the next issue of Celebrity Trash has photos of Justin sporting the latest gear and gun from [fill in the blank.] Whose playing paintball now?