…It Came From The Woods

it-came-from-the-woods-copyBaca Loco, author of The View From The Deadbox blog, begins his weekly column on 68caliber today.

It Came From The Woods

by Baca Loco

A great tide of woe accompanied Paintball out of the woods. Well, alright, it was probably more of a babbling brook of misgivings. Nevertheless, even as we stood blinking at the blue sky and bright sunshine the naysayers and doomcriers were already making a racket. You see, they were positive the move out of the woods and into the light of day would be the end of Paintball. After all, we played our game with guns. Folks wouldn’t understand. We shot people. You heard me right–shot people. That was two strikes against us from the get go.

Paintball–they said–was one high profile act of vandalism and/or assault away from a public hue and cry that would finish the game, strangle it in its infancy.

The (sometimes) unstated aspect of that fearful prediction was that those tourney players would be responsible. Those juvenile and irresponsible tourney players. Would ruin everything. For everybody.

It was almost as if playing paintball was somehow unnatural and needed to be kept hidden away from the uninitiated. Kept in the woods. Where it would be safe. Protected from popular misunderstanding.

Today that sounds like absurdly superstitious nonsense despite assorted lawsuits, gaggles of nanny state legislators and more than enough dim-witted vandalism over the years to fill up Cracked magazine’s annual almanac; The Stupid Things That Stupid People Do.

However, I’d like to revisit that debate. Why, you wonder? All the worst fears of the This-Is-The-End-of-Paintball types are looking, if not downright silly, at least wildly overblown with the occasional vandalism and/or assault mostly perpetrated by witless punks. And understood as such (mostly) even in our increasingly PC nanny state world.

Why? Because the real danger to the future of the game is still in the woods and if the word ever gets out we really are in trouble.

Some members of the paintball community are, not unreasonably, concerned about a variety of  different trends. Things like rate of fire and the falling age demographic of the average player. In the past it was stuff like red paint (too much like blood) and disassociating the game from its martial overtones by calling the guns “markers” and choosing a sport-oriented look rather than the original military one. But while many thoughtful folks are reasonably concerned they are missing the forest for the trees.

Today the paintball industry is working overtime to connect with its inner GI Joe in a mad race to produce the gear the they think will save their bottom line. Not content to meet the market demand covertly they are openly embracing, celebrating even, the cranks and wannabe commandos corner of paintball; mil-sim.

Military simulation. Kinda says it all, doesn’t it? Ironic that 10 years ago it was how do we disassociate ourselves from the image of playing soldier and pretending at war and now the industry can’t get enough of it. There’s no turning a blind eye to this stuff. No explaining this away. Markers that look like real tactical weapons–on purpose. A hard corps cadre of players
wearing real military insignia and uniforms and huge scenario games based on real world battlefields. There is no holding this iteration of paintball at arm’s length and calling it a fringe activity. Not now. Not today.

Sure, this has always been an aspect of paintball but isn’t it just a little bit offensive? Grown men playing soldier while real soldiers die. And let me ask you this: What is more likely to offend a first timer to paintball; a fast, loud and colorful if abstract and hard to follow game or grown men in paramilitary regalia playing at storming Omaha Beach?

I’m not saying don’t do it but I am saying it’s more than offensive. It trivializes real heroism and sacrifice and infantilizes men and boys too easily inuring them from the reality of their game.

And if Paintball remains at risk from a judgmental non-balling society at large it is mil-sim that will justify their action.

Read more of Baca Loco’s take on things paintball on his daily blog - The Videw From the Deadbox.

9 thoughts on “…It Came From The Woods

  1. Pingback: WEEK in REVIEW
  2. I play a bit of scenario… where I assume all these mil-sim guys would be playing, I just dont see that many. I mean yeah, a LOT wear camo & shoot an, at least somewhat, ralistic looking marker, but only a few have the head set radios, full uniforms & the rest of the nonsense . Maybe the rise of organized airsoft has siphoned off a good bit of these guys in my area, but really most players at the big games I go to are there to have fun & shoot each other… not to “play war”. I think you need to join us for a game Baca, before you come down so hard on us woodsers (I mean it man, you really need to come out… you gotta try Mazingo’s camp roasted chicken… sooooo gooood! Oh yea, the game is fun to).

  3. I want to point out there is a big differance between woodsball and milsim for all you little kiddies out there. playing in the woods is fun, we have a rogue field at the parents farm with two castles and a lake in the middle. we only invite the closest friends to play and more often than not it turns into a pump day. the majority still use our speedball clothing because camo is only so great and at the distance your shooting paintballs from camo is about useless. that is woodsball. Milsim is something completly differant, milsim is dressing up like a navy seal, or German SS soldier from WWII, with sometimes thousands of people dessed in military style wardobes reinacting the battle of the bulge. its like airsoft, people are just there so they can play dress-up.

  4. Just to voice my opinion here. I don’t take kindly to being accused of trivialising paintball. We never claim to be soldiers; we don’t pretend to be heroes. There are plenty of tactics involved in Speedball, but unless you actually play it, you wouldn’t really know. Locking down lanes, areas of fire, crossing up… there are many different things you can do in Speedball that still count as tactics. It’s just done on a smaller scale than woodsball, but so what? It doesn’t mean we’re just running around and shooting each other. We take time and careful consideration when planning our breakouts, we study fields, we work in teams.

    The whole point of speedball is to get away from the concept that paintball is emulating war. I know a lot more people play at our local speedball field and return than our woodsball field (mostly due to lack of advertising on the woodsball end, but I’m saying that they are NOT offended and they do find it fun).

    I like Speedball because it’s easier to build closer bonds with the people there, to form a team. When I go to a Woodsball field, everybody is moody and sullen, pretending it’s real war. I can understand, having a little conviction, but it’s not a good way to attract newbies. When I play speedball, I can walk around and chat with nearly anybody without feeling like they’re going to punch me in the face.

    In response to your “move towards milsim” comment, it’s mainly because they industry has pretty much reached it’s peak on the Speedball front. Whatever we have now is enough, even for the highest levels of competition. Why not bring that level of quality and efficiency to the woodsball world? Example being the TM7, with Mini based internals. Yes, it’s a great woodsball marker, but it’s a Mini at heart. Why not have something with Droid internals? Or DMs? Performance and functionality.

    I’m not saying Woodsball’s bad. I play woodsball too, and I enjoy it. But I wouldn’t like it if I didn’t have my teammates there to chat to, or newbies to help out. Gets very lonely.

  5. Pot, Kettle.
    Nice write up, but let’s not deny that the entire hobby (or sport, lol) of paintball is ridiculous.
    Grown men in camo or hotpink chasing each other around in the woods or on the airball field is never going to be taken seriously by the majority of non-players.
    As long as they are laughing and not legislating, it’s all good.

  6. OMG!

    You are so right. It is just like real war. Something must be done.

    Think about the children!

    All joking aside however. I have had a real gun drawn on me by a local cop because he couldn’t tell a red anodized shocker for a 45. And there was a time when my teammate got questioned by the FBI for making copies of a map of hell survivors with “white house” , “dead zone”, “plane crash” and “Area 51″ labeled on it. Though in the FBI’s defense, it was only 2 weeks after 9/11. The point is that there is some ways in which the military nature of our game can come in conflict with the PC world. It is best to acknowledge and accept them rather than change or ignore them.

  7. Reiner – I’m not speaking for Baca here – he’s fully capable of doing that himself. But I am speaking for 68Caliber when I say that we encourage the expression of all points of view.

  8. Well this article might make you unpopular with a lot of people.

    Good for you. As unpopular as it may be, I agree with you.

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