Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monday Poll in Review: Top Influences on Competitive Paintball

One of the fascinating influences on the poll results is, I think, the point in time the respondents got serious about their paintball. From my point of view (which is of course the most important point of view here at VFTD) much of the technologically driven changes are vastly underestimated which I attribute (mostly) to a lack of awareness of what the game was like in the mechanical/gravity feed days. Anyway, the results are interesting--and that's all that really counts. They also demonstrate a distinct lack of interest in the few industry side options on the list which I take as pretty typical of a player-oriented venue (despite the fact a lot of industry peeps routinely peruse these pages.)
This review will confine itself to the top ten responses in increasing order of popularity. (That means we's beginning with # 10.)
Tied for tenth place with 17% each is the formation of the original NPPL and the modification of Xball we know as Race To. An intriguing element to such rankings is the What If? conundrum, a sort of multi-faceted Chicken and the Egg question. Clearly Race To doesn't exist without Xball so where will 'Xball' figure in the list of influences? And just what, in the greater scheme of things, did the NPPL bring to competitive paintball beyond the tournament series? It moved singular events to a series concept but that wasn't part of the original intent. It ostensibly placed the power and future of the game in the players' hands but that didn't last--despite the endless hype over the years.
In ninth place with 18% is ROF. There's a couple of ways to look at this one. First there's the explosion in the rate of fire made possible by electropneumatic marker technology, force fed loaders and software-directed operation which almost overnight created both a manufacturers war and changed a critical element of the nature of the game. (I still distinctly remember the first time I was shot with a Shocker set on burst mode. Hello!) There is also the regulatory consideration. The opening of a Pandora's Box nobody can close and has caused endless debate (at least on the internet) over its influence on the mid-decade collapse in the number of competitive players and teams and it's impact on growing and retaining players at the local & rec level.
In eighth position with 22% is HPA--my all-purpose stand-in for all the possible compressed air answers that took the game beyond CO2. Did HPA make the hyper ROF sustainable? Improve marker longevity and reduce maintenance? Did it make tournament Xball possible? It certainly provided a cleaner, lighter and easier-to-use variation on the CO2 theme.
In seventh place with 25% is sideline coaching. I'd like to say this answer, perhaps above all others, is symptomatic of the age divide but the truth is there are a lot of old hands also blaming sideline coaching for most of paintball's perceived modern ills. The truth remains sideline coaching can take the rap for snake wire trade-outs at least some of the time but everything else it's blamed for has antecedents in other facets of player development like practice.
Coming in sixth with 26% (and missing a top five spot by only 2%) is the internet. Here is the quintessential age gap answer. While I happily grant the influence of the internet in disseminating paintball worldwide it cannot do so without content. One might contend the scale and reach of the internet alone makes it a game changer--and there's probably some validity to that--but given its reliance on dedicated content does it deserve it's exalted place or does it really share that position with a longer list of content providers? (There's that Chicken or the Egg question again.)
Cracking the top five in fifth place with 28% of the vote is the symmetrical concept field. It may seem obvious today but back in the woods it was anything but. Were attempts made to make fields balanced? Well, sort of, but not in any way we'd recognize 'balanced' today so the symmetrical field wasn't an obvious extension of past practice. Can you imagine an xball field not being symmetrical? Would you even consider competing on such a field particularly after you discovered how the asymmetry would effect game play? Nor did inflatable bunkers generate the concept of symmetry yet where would our game be today without it?
In fourth place with 33% is Dynasty. Clearly the most influential team in paintball's short history a good case can be made they have uniquely impacted the way the competitive game is played today in large part because of their success and longevity as the team bridged eras of tournament play.
Making the podium in third place with 36% is the electropneumatic marker. It revolutionized the game without doubt. Yet we are confounded once again by other related technologies (like the force fed loader, "cheater board" software and fiber-wrapped HPA tank) that facilitated the potential of the electros. Of course the answer might be in the order the items appeared as in the gun begat the other related advances--if in fact it did.
In second place edging out the electopneumatic marker by a single percent with 37% is Xball. No question Xball changed the nature of competitive paintball and directly influenced the direction the competitive game has moved in recent years up to and including the league wars and changing the face of competitive paintball internationally beginning with the Millennium Series while disseminating to every corner of the globe.
Topping the list by a wide margin (51%) the number one influence on competitive paintball as chosen by you lazy slackers is inflatable bunkers. No question the inflatable bunker made the modern game mobile allowing venues like HB and Fantasy of Flight or Disney's Wide World of Sports to host an event. Nor is there any debate over its dominance of the current competitive paintball environment but even so, inflatable bunkers didn't bring paintball out of the woods even if it was at the forefront of popularizing the out of the woods game. And it didn't introduce the symmetrical field design so even an influence as important as the inflatable bunker is a product of it's own influences and time.
Next time VFTD visits this topic I will post my Top Five influences so that the debate can continue.


MikeM said...

I would rather substitute the Russians' influence on the Professional game over Dynasty's impact. Dynasty was a natural evolution of player ability and team chemistry. Granted they raised the bar dramatically in a very short period of time and dominated. Perhaps this caused other teams to increase their budgets with "super teams". Like XSV, Philly A's.

But the Russians' changed the entire culture of paintball as a sport. That is, they made it one. No more getting drunk the night before (well for most Pros I imagine). Change in practice methodology to drills and skills instead of just scrimmage. Players getting in shape to play.

Also, I lump in "sideline coaching" with spectating. Crowd participation. Fans can drink Bud Lights and scream during the action just like any other sporting event. I'd prefer the spectators be required to sit in the stands so there is no "sideline coach". Just spectators.

Splatkid10 said...

You mention technology being underestimated, maybe it's better if guys go watch an old trauma head sportz video from the early 2000s. Then they'll get it. I think the speed feed was huge, not to type it all on the iPad now but I think you could make an argument that the speed feed sped the game up considerably.

Anonymous said...

The internet is not a question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

The content was always there, the internet just made it more visible and by doing so, increased exposure of the sport and helped drive paintball's intermittent success in the early 2000's.

Missy Q said...

'The Internet ' is a shotgun answer that could be applied to any industries growth through exposure. Shouldn't the answers be more specific to paintball? There might as well have been a 'Money' answer to choose.

And there were about 6 answers that all refer to a modern symmetrical field design, which if combined would have blown up with 100% of people choosing at least one of those answers. If one answer had captured the 'Modern Symmetrical field design' option you would have seen a more realistic spread on your results.

Self-Bias will define any data gathered as either irrelevant or invalid anyway, given the choices offered.

Apart from that I thought it was awesome.

Baca Loco said...

Best stay that way.

Please list those six options identical to "symmetrical field design". Heck, I'll settle for four or five.

Missy Q said...

1. Inflatable bunkers (have always been on symmetrical field and are synonymous with that)
2. Xball - (Just another format that uses a Symmetrical field)
3. World Hyperball Championships
(First Symmetrical fields)
4. Symmetrical field design - encompasses all of the above

The list is down so I am working from my memory, but I think there may have been another option or 2 that was also in this vein (if not then I still feel 4 is enough to invalidate responses.
For me, the above are all the same answer, as they are all connected and an evolution of the same theme. By splitting the answers you are allowing more self-bias into your results.

Sideline coaching is Xball and shouldn't be a separate option either. It's just part of 'Xball'. A more 'sporting' format played on the same type of field. If credit must be given it should be given to the first, as that would be the original movement to 'sporting' unbiased fields. The rest just cloud the results of the poll.

Just my opinion of course. I've been researching some surveys recently to use in Canadia, and have had real trouble eliminating self-bias from the results due to the questions I asked. It's a science, apparently...

Baca Loco said...

A couple of things.
First there is the minor detail that this site has never attempted a scientific poll nor claimed to have done such--in fact just the opposite. :)
Beyond that there is a distinct order to the options you listed and to assume they are all the same or as good as is a mistake--and a mistake that would it have been done your way removes choices. That would be choosing your bias over the opportunity choices of the voters. And of course the vast majority of the "answers" were provided by the readers, yourself included.

Missy Q said...

Exactly my point.
Bias cannot be removed from answers (because everyone shows self-bias), only from changing the questions to provoke a valid and unbiased response.

If the option had been "the move out of the woods onto the modern day Symmetrical field (Hyperball/Xball/Speedball etc)"
then you would have Richmond and I voting for the same option, despite our individual bias, and you would have a more valid response.

I'm sounding really critical here and I don't mean to, I know its just a bit of fun, etc. I am in survey-world right now and your poll includes every element I am now learning to exclude from any polls I would create (if I actually wanted to learn something useful from them)
No offence my old pal. Love your work.

Baca Loco said...

Ok, Missy, I get where you're coming from but I resist the example--I guess. Perhaps that aspect of the list could have been refined somewhat but you absolutely can't lump Xball with the move outta the woods. I would argue one doesn't happen without its antecedents.
And I can't help wondering if your way gets the answers the survey is crafted to get.
Either way thanks for playing.