Category Archives: Entertainment – Interviews

Interview with Debra Dion Krischke on The Orlando Field Owners Conference

Following the success of the Paintball Festival and Business Conference this past August in Pittsburgh, the folks at Team Effort Events (previously responsible for the world’s largest amateur competition – The International Amateur Open series) announced that that would be hosting a field owners conference in conjunction with this year’s PSP World Cup in Orlando.

Having attended the August conference, 68Caliber was interested to learn what was in store for October.  We got in touch with the mighty powerhouse Debra Dion Kirschke (the first woman to work in paintball) and set down a few questions:


68Caliber –  Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way:  When and where is the event and WHY are you doing it?

Debra Dion Krischke – The Field Owners Business Conference will be held Wednesday Oct. 19, 2011 at the Radisson Celebration in Kissimmee. This is the day BEFORE World Cup begins. And it will kick off with a poolside cocktail party the night before. Having been on hiatus for the past 4 years I re-entered the industry this summer and it became obvious to me that field owners need to gather to discuss how to maximize their facilities and operations.  Since our daughter graduated college a year ago, she has taken over Three Rivers Paintball as Operations Manager and I want her to learn from the best!

At that time, there were no other conferences on the horizon so for me, it was just natural to look at producing an educational conference to provide all field owners with the best expertise available. We produced these for 16 years at the IAO and have always believed in the value of educating field owners!
68 – Earlier this year you held a Festival at Three Rivers Paintball.  Why another one so soon?

Debra – We produced a conference for 16 years in conjunction with the International Amateur Open ( the IAP) and have always believed in the value of educating field owners! During those years it was the perfect location because we were “ Switzerland” in that we could host the entire industry in a non-political atmosphere.

The Festival this past August in Pittsburgh allowed me to get my arms around the “State of the Paintball Union” . The weekend was light in numbers but valuable in education. Attendees had a great time, the content at the conference was excellent and within a week following it, I thought World Cup was the right place to replicate it. Honestly, it would have been great if it were a year off but I think it’s important to take action – always – and sometimes you just have to crunch through getting a good idea launched to lay the foundation for the future.

68-  You’ve got such a great (and familiar) facility at Three Rivers.  Why are you moving it to Orlando?

Debra – Three Rivers was an ideal place to gather when it was in conjunction with a major event. At this stage of my career, I’m all about strategic alliances. Each party doing what they do best. Let’s not forget I’ve been involved in this sport for almost 30 years so I’ve lived through the rough beginnings, to the years of growth, to the tumultuous years of lawsuits and mergers, to the current challenging economy. Orlando has always been the ideal city to gather since everyone worldwide wants to come to Disney World!

68-  This time around you’re working with Paintball Sports Promotions.  What benefit(s) for your attendees do you hope to achieve by partnering with a major tournament series?

Debra –  We have to be careful with the word partnership since that’s not the case here. Team Effort Events is producing the conference. PSP is producing World Cup. And our intention is to cross promote for the betterment of the industry.  As I said – it’s all about strategic alliances. The PSP needs to stay focused on their tournament and how to augment that element to attract the entire industry. I can stay focused on putting together a top-notch conference that can really have value for the attendees. And this gives another “Value Add” to anyone thinking about coming into the Orlando area. I’ve already sent them a valuable sponsor contact that’s a great fit for them, but not for the conference. Working together in this manner creates a win/win and both Lane Wright and I get that part.

68 –  Some have suggested that the Field Owners Conference is ‘another’ Paintball Extravaganza.  Is that true?  If not, what sets them apart?

Debra-  It’s Apples and Oranges. Our vendors will have nothing more than a 10×10 booth and will be driving traffic out to see their show booth at World Cup the next day. We are BUSINESS focused so we’ll be leaving all the tech classes for another time and place.  But perhaps the BIGGEST difference is we’ll be discussing AIRSOFT along with the other options like 50 Cal and Outdoor Laser Tag for capturing the really young (ages 6 to 10) Birthday market. Several companies within the industry do NOT want that discussion to take place. We are not owned or controlled by ANY commercial entity in this industry and for those who’ve known me over the years, I won’t shut up about something that I believe has VALUE for field owners.  I suspect they are stalling or believe they can control the marketplace. Field Owners are the front line to the consumer so the healthier and more educated they are about business, the better for the entire industry. Change is the only constant in business, and it’s time for all of us to wake up and realize that we have serious VIABLE options for additional revenue streams. Again – because we’ve been field owners since 1984 and I worked as the PR Director for The National Survival Games with Bob Gurnsey – Ryan and I bring those years of experience and expertise to any conference we produce. It makes a difference. In my conversations with field owners, they are ALL interested in exactly the same things we are – growing their business in a challenging economy.

68 –  How will attending the event help field owners?  In other words – what can they expect to get out of it?

Debra – – I’m really excited about the various opportunities for Field Owners to increase their bottom line. We have 3 viable options – two that have been around before but merit taking another look at- 50 Cal and Outdoor Laser Tag. The third option has been around for a few years but has now hit critical mass. Airsoft is the TAG sport of choice for the younger kids. Looking at the shelf space at Dick’s Sporting Goods, previously taken up with Paintball, we can see that Airsoft has become the big seller in the marketplace.  I see this as another opportunity for us to go after the really junior Birthday market – ages 6 to 10 .  I’m sure as an industry, we’ve conceded millions to Chucky Cheese and Laser Tag. In this economy everyone should be looking at how to maximize their field operations. We’ll be talking about every possible new revenue stream as well as Social Media and marketing in general. I’m fine tuning topics and speakers as we speak but they can be seen on our website.

68 – Is there a major subject or ‘theme’ for the conference?  If so, could you explain it?

Debra – Re-Connect, Re-Group, and Re-Load! I think that about sums it up! We all need to meet, and talk, and share best practices as well as learn from the best experts in the business.

68 –  Are there any showcase events/speakers that you’d care to highlight?

Debra – We’ve got an excellent Key Note – Julie Dion (who is absolutely NOT relatedJ who comes with 20 years of marketing experience in the IAAPA  world. She’s going to give us great Action Items for going after the JUNIOR Birthday market.  We’ll have an excellent presentation on Social Media and we’ll be rolling out The Bob Gurnsey Scholarship Program, which will be a fabulous way for fields and the industry to be involved in giving back to high school senior paintball players for their education. Everyone is going to want to participate in this.

68 –  For attendees who are also participating in the World Cup, how are you managing the scheduling so that they can effectively do both?

Debra – We’ve designed this with Field Owners in mind so they can come in Tuesday Oct. 18 for a poolside cocktail party 5PM to 7PM – attend the full day conference the next day – then on Thursday Oct. 20 they can get on out to see World Cup and depending on their druthers – either stay in town and enjoy World Cup or Disney for a few days – or head back to their fields. It’s the perfect get away!!

68 –  For those who attended the Festival/Conference, what changes have you made (if any) that they can expect to see?

Debra –  It will be a combination of some speakers from the August event along with new speakers. New Products on parade will be the first time for media and attendees to see some of the latest items coming into the market.  We’ll have a session on Mobil Marketing, Text Message Marketing, Advertising and Social Media.  There will also be round-table discussion time where fields can talk to each other about the nuts and bolts of their operations. Tippmanns new Marketing book will also be available so there’s a lot to talk about!

What’s your business worth to you? Do you invest in its growth?  When you decide your business is how you earn a living and stop treating it like a hobby – everything changes – immediately!

The great hotel rate of just $71 is only available until September 30 so folks should go to our site, get registered and make their reservations!

Playing X-Ball in the Woods? YES!

Bruce ‘Charon’ Johnston interviews Canadian X-Ball Team Halifax City United and their commitment to step back into the woods at the ATWL. (And don’t forget to check out the image gallery after the interview!)

Interview by Bruce Johnston

Halifax City United (HCU), one of the best xball teams in Canada, is heading back to their roots by playing in the Atlantic Tactical Woodsball League (ATWL). Bruce ‘Charon’ Johnston from sat down with Gilbert Rossingol from HCU to find out why the CXBL is invading the ATWL.


Bruce ‘Charon’ Johnston (68Caliber):  Why is a team playing in Canada’s professional xball league, the Canadian Xtreme Paintball League (CXBL), playing in a regional woodsball league?


Halifax City United (HCU): We’re a strong believer that to be really good at paintball, you need to be good at all aspects of the sport. Playing woodsball will help us improve some skills that you can’t get on the speedball field. We also like to mix things up a little bit, doing the same breakout time and time again can get repetitive and boring, what better way to mix it up, then be in the woods.


68Caliber:  I see a few Halifax City United players at different woodsball, and scenario events. Will this be the first time your entire xball team has played woodsball together?


HCU: Together, yes. Five HCU players played together in the ATWL last year, and every event, we would bring out different speedball players to play with us. Each player had the same reaction, this is AWESOME. A few of us also like to attend the annual Risk event hosted by the Tippinators at Mersey Road. However we attend them with a different intent then most players. I try to get the guys to command a squad or group of players, reinforcing their teamwork and communication skills.


68Caliber: I know that you have a few US based pro players who play with you in the CXBL. Is there any chance we might see a big name US player on your ATWL team?


HCU: You can never really be too sure about what the future holds. We have some friends that play for just about every pro team out there. This year, we have players from VICIOUS playing with us, VICIOUS is also playing UWL. They actually won their first pro UWL event in Mesquite, NV.


68Caliber: All players are asked to wear matching jerseys to play ATWL. Your CXBL jerseys are not exactly tactical. Can we expect to see you running in red and white this season or will you get something a little woodsier?


HCU: You can expect to see us in matching CXBL uniforms at the first event. We’ll see how that works out for us. If, for whatever reason, we can’t blend in to our surroundings we will make the necessary changes before event two.


68Caliber: Most people don’t want to bang a $1300 Ego 11 around in the woods. Will your guys be changing any of your equipment to play competitive woodsball?


HCU: Absolutely not. The whole idea of playing ATWL is for our players to get used to playing in different positions, different bunkers, player swill learn nothing if we are using different gear. There’s a reason we all shoot Planet Eclipse markers, we require reliability, accuracy and efficiency, so we shoot what we consider the best in all three.


68Caliber: In xball the playing area is rather confined, and you know approximately where the other team might be. How will you change your tactics to overcome the larger playing area?


HCU: Tactics are something I don’t want to get too much into, but the principles won’t be much different. In xball a back center controls your mid and front players, we will use the same idea in the woods, except that we may have two or three back centers.


68Caliber: The ATWL is a ten man league. Most xball teams have two, five man lines. Will your entire CXBL roster be playing woodsball?


HCU: Everyone on our CXBL roster, minus the players from VICIOUS, will be in attendance at the first ATWL event. As I mentioned above, it is important to expand on your skills list, and we require everyone to be playing.


68Caliber: Halifax City United players have considerable skill and experience playing xball / speedball. Do you think individual skills will translate into woodsball?


HCU: Of course, but like everyone else we’re still learning, progressing, and woodsball is another aspect we need to work on.


68Caliber: What most woodsball players don’t know is penalties in xball can determine the outcome of a game. The CXBL has very strict rules and even fines for playing infractions. How do you plan to dispel the belief that all speedballers are wipers and whiners?


HCU: When you play with the HCU shield on your chest, you must play with honesty and integrity. We take our showing on and off the field very seriously. You don’t only represent yourself, but you represent your teammates, your city, and most importantly your sponsors. I can’t comment on other teams, but you shouldn’t see any HCU penalties.


68Caliber: More than once I have heard players talking in the staging area talking about how they can’t wait to “light up” the speedballers. How does it feel to know players are gunning specifically for you, and your team?


HCU: Well, I would hope they are. We are the ten players on the other side of the field. I think it adds a bit of fuel to the fire and makes us want to play better.


68Caliber: Come on now, tell the truth. You guys are really out to prove speedballers are better than woodsballers aren’t you?


HCU: Absolutely, our entire goal is to remove woodsballers from the paintball equation. Our hope is to beat them down so badly they won’t ever want to come back. [breaks into laughter] I’m just kidding. We are playing ATWL to have fun and work on some team skills.


68Caliber: Is there anything that you would like people to know that I might have missed?


HCU: First of all, thanks Bruce for the opportunity, we look forward to seeing you on the field. I’d like to say thanks to all of our sponsors,, KEE, EMPIRE, Planet Eclipse,, and GR Paintball. Thanks for your continued support. If you want to read about how we are doing in the CXBL, make sure you check our or



You can follow Halifax City United and the rest of the Tippmann X7 Phenom Atlantic Tactical Woodsball League, on Twitter or friend us on Facebook to get up to date information plus game day updates and scores.

and you can read more posts by Bruce here on his page

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Interview with John Robinson – CEO of Kee

A few days ago, Kee Action Sports issued a press release that stated that the company had acquire the intellectual property portfolio (patents, trademarks) of bankrupt Smart Parts Inc.

Like any other story connected to Smart Parts, the controversy, bickering, speculation and emotional venting began almost immediately on the boards, Facebook and in the blogs.

68Caliber is intimately familiar with this subject, having previously served as the media outlet for White Hats LLC, a corporation formed in late 2009 for the purpose of acquiring the Smart Parts assets; the public reaction to Kee’s announcement did not come as a surprise as the exact same thing took place when White Hats LLC issued its own press releases.  (White Hats LLC ultimately determined that purchasing all of the Smart Parts assets – not just the IP – was not a good fit for its future goals and withdrew its offer to purchase several months ago.)

The hyperbole flung across the web regarding this subject by paintballers typifies the kind of discourse that passes for intelligent discussion in this industry: a tremendous amount of uninformed, mean-spirited, deliberately misleading, agenda-driven drivel, lies, obfuscations, speculations and plain outright idiocy.  Posters present themselves as insiders with special access and then utter the most outrageous, ridiculous claims of facts, ones that wouldn’t pass muster in front of a kindergarten audience – if that audience bothered to think about it for half a second.

‘Dishing the dirt’ is a time-honored tradition wherever two or more human beings gather together (and seemingly a favorite hobby amongst paintballers) which will never be eliminated.  However, there is also something to be said for reading and listening with just a tad bit of skepticism.

There’s also something to be said for going to the source.  The paintball industry is a famously open one, offering access to the top names and companies on an unheard of level of intimacy between the captains of industry and the great unwashed consumer public;  most decision-makers are available on Facebook, through their websites, in forums and at various events and seminars.

The point is, sometimes all you have to do is ask.  Which is precisely what 68Caliber did almost immediately following Kee’s announcement.

Why some people insist on foisting their own (uneducated, ill informed, non-logical, sometimes even crazy) viewpoints without even going through the motions of asking the source is beyond our abilities to comprehend.  You might not get an answer, you might get an answer that isn’t the one you wanted to hear, but at the very least your own speculations would be elevated above the morass of sewage  foisted upon us by the thousands of so-called experts with an imprint of veracity.

Our best guess as to an explanation for this behavior is that there must be a lot of folks out there who are so desperate for attention that they prefer  being a celebrity idiot to non-celebrity status.

But we’ll leave that rant right now in favor of getting to what you came here for – some answers.  Answers from the source.

First though, a bit of background and history:

Kee is a legacy corporation, formed from the acquisition of the various companies and brands that once made up Brass Eagle (itself a formerly publicly traded company formed from Brass Eagle, JT USA, Worr games Products and others), National Paintball Supply and Pursuit Marketing Inc.  It is the industry’s largest distributor (and manufacturer) and represents paintball in the ‘real’ business world, run along corporate lines, invested in and funded by dollars from outside the industry.  Internally, the company is run by folks who come not from paintball but from the business world, though the experience and talent level working in key positions within the company have a strong foundational industry background.

Kee offers some of the most recognizable brands in the industry – BT, JT, Empire, RP Scherer, Evil, Invert, Diablo and more.

The company has also been largely responsible for the industry’s promotional efforts outside of paintball, including the first-ever paintball company sponsorship of the Boy Scouts of America.

What individuals see in Kee more often than not is a non-industry intruder into their favorite sport, a company that seems bent on buying up everything paintball for some us yet unknown, but no doubt nefarious purpose.

In reality what they are seeing is an expression of the maturation of the industry:  paintball has become big enough, strong enough and profitable enough to warrant the attention of people who’s business is business.  What Kee seems to be engaged in is a measured and considered “roll up” of an “industry segment”, something that has taken place with numerous other industries since at least the 1980s.  The concept is a simple one: acquire strong brands that represent a solid cross-section of a particular industr, realizing economies of scale along the way.

Smart Parts was, since at least the middle 1990s, the complete opposite of a Kee-style entity.  Privately owned and controlled by a family that had first achieved fame and notoriety on the playing fields of paintball.  If you were a tournament player during the late 80s through the early oughts, you not only saw Smart Parts at every event trade show, you saw the owners on the field.

Smart Parts was a strong aftermarket company, competing well with dozens of others, until the mid-1990s when the company acquired the first of what would eventually become the largest intellectual property portfolio in the industry.

Controversy surrounded the company’s move to patent “electronic paintball guns” as it was perceived as an attempt to control the entire industry through law suits, threats of lawsuits and the control of technology which many perceived as already being in the public domain.

In an apparent bid to expand, Smart Parts Inc arranged for a multi-million dollar bank loan in 2008; the economy then tanked and Smart Parts quickly found itself in default, ultimately filing for bankruptcy in 2009.

The company’s assets had been put up as collateral for the bank loan and once the company filed for Chapter 11, those assets became the property of the lending institution, a leading national bank.

In late 2009, several prominent members of the paintball community became aware of the bankruptcy filing; the group, consisting of several highly-regarded individuals and companies within the industry (collectively having nearly 150 years of involvement) put together a company called White Hats LLC and began working with the bank and other corporate entities within paintball to acquire the assets of Smart Parts.  Following more than a year of negotiations (and engaging with several other companies including Kee Action Sports), White Hats LLC ultimately made the decision that all of the Smart Parts assets (not limited to the intellectual property) were not worth the asking price and the company withdrew its offer.

Which brings us relatively up to date.

Following Kee’s announcement (and GOG’s announcement:  GOG is the new company formed by the former owners of Smart Parts), the internet lit up with questions, concerns and speculation.

The three biggest issues raised (and still being discussed today) are: How is  Kee going to handle their IP – in an industry friendly way?; will Kee be making Smart Parts products and supporting existing product?;  and is this a bid for world paintball domination?

A couple of days ago, 68Caliber put together a series of questions for John Robinson, the CEO of Kee Action Sports, seeking answers to all but the last question.  That one is a non-starter: World Domination is not achievable, even if that is the goal.

68Caliber:  The announcement from Kee regarding Smart Parts only mentioned the intellectual property portfolio – patents, trademarks.  Did Kee acquire any of the other assets of Smart Parts or just the IP?

John Robinson: KEE only acquired IP. KEE assumed no liabilities nor did we assume any responsibility for products in the marketplace produced by Smart Parts or utilizing the Smart Parts technology either pre or post transaction.

68Caliber: The list of patents can be viewed here.  Note that “assume no responsibility” is a standard phrase indicating that legally speaking, Kee is not liable for the past.  This does not necessarily mean that Kee will not be offering support, service, parts & etc., in the future.  It does mean that the company is not obligated to do so.  Regardless of Kee’s intentions in this regard, it will take time for the company to absorb its acquisition and make future plans.  Emails and calls to Kee for replacement parts or service of Smart Parts product at this time would be a futile exercise.

68: Some of the patents in the portfolio have passed their maintenance fee date(s); will Kee be attempting to get those patents reinstated or let them go by the wayside?

JR: KEE believes that the maintenance fees most pertinent were paid up. There are a couple of instances of maintenance fees being paid by the bank post Chapter 7 filing. That said, KEE will be conducting a complete review of all IP and making case by case determinations as to the go forward strategy and maintenance of each item.

68Caliber:  At regular intervals, fees must be paid to keep patents active.  Non-payment usually results in abandonment and non-enforceability of the patent.  Fees can amount to tens of thousands of dollars per year.  It is within Kee’s best interest to determine the utility of each patent and decide whether to keep it active or not.

68: Prior to your acquisition, the Gardners implied to various and sundry that they had already licensed themselves/GOG to manufacture various product that was covered by the IP;  has Kee worked out a licensing agreement with Gardners/GOG, or is that not necessary due to the foregoing?

JR: As you are probably aware, most of the license agreements have confidentiality terms.  We intend to hold up our side of these undertakings and that limits how much I can say about particular deals.  However our attitude to licensing others, and dealing with existing licenses is discussed in my answers to these questions.

68: Shortly after the possibility of a White Hats acquisition was announced, potential WH investors had discussions with the Gardners (former owners of Smart Parts) regarding their possible involvement.  Those individuals were informed that such a sale would not affect GOG, since the company was already licensed.

68: The Gardners also implied that they had either offered or had signed “blanket licensing agreements” with several other companies. In light of this, is Kee going to have a broad enough market to license into to make the acquisition worthwhile?

JR: First and foremost in our decision to acquire the IP was a focus on keeping the portfolio inside the industry. Beyond that, different organizations apply value in many different ways. For KEE, we believe the combination of keeping it inside the industry plus our internal valuation made the decision to pursue the IP an easy one.

68Caliber: Patent mining and other similar legal but questionable practices have become commonplace.  Typically, IP is acquired on the cheap and threats of legal action against small companies, financially unable to defend themselves, are used to generate income.  Such activity does nothing but drain an industry of cash and innovation.  Kee’s acquisition genuinely helped avoid this fate.  The statements regarding blanket licenses were heard from both the Gardners and other sources.

68: A number of companies, both big and small, saw the Smart Parts bankruptcy as an opportunity to make and offer product that had originally been covered by the IP.  What are Kee’s plans (if any) for addressing this and perhaps reigning in this activity?

JR: It is important to not only protect our interests in the IP, but to continue to support those companies who respect IP through license agreements.

68: As in all things legal, it would probably be best for any manufacturer producing product that would have been covered under a Smart Parts license to consult with an attorney regarding continued production.  Kee has a vested and legitimate interest in protecting their property.  The answer to this question seems to indicate that Kee will respond favorably to those who wish to do things the ‘right way’ and will also take appropriate action(s) where this is not the case.

68: Does Kee have a general philosophy or approach to how it intends to handle the IP?  The general perception is that Smart Parts used their IP to achieve an “unfair” competitive advantage – driving numerous companies out of business (AKA, AGD, others) and prevented innovation due to the potential for litigation.  Will Kee be making “affordable” fees available to competitors?

JR: There is a balance here that we have to diligently to manage. That balance includes three distinct areas:

1. Making decisions that are consistent with our objective to grow our industry which means being willing to support and foster product development activity within our industry that is compelling to the end consumer. Competition through great product is important to any industry.

2. The economic reality that we invested resources into the acquisition and those resources should generate a reasonable return.

3. The relationships and legacy deals that are currently in place with our industry’s manufacturers.

68: A lot of IP is issued to designers that are variations on existing patents, expansions or improvements – technology that is useful only in conjunction with technology owned by others (such as a Kee patent); how will Kee be handling such?  In other words, will Kee be encouraging such activities or attempting to keep all such development in-house?

JR: I am a big believer in embracing good ideas, whatever their source. Kee has a history of working with inventors who have brought us good ideas.  We of course have a strong internal product development team, but we also are committed to continuing to look at technologies brought to us.  We welcome the opportunity to work with inventors to bring those technologies to market. The understanding of how to commercialize an idea and successfully launch it is a core strength of our Company and one we would like to share with those who have great ideas, but maybe not the resources to bring those ideas to market.

68Caliber:  We take this to mean that if someone has a genuinely good concept and wants to work with Kee in developing it and bringing it to market, they’ll find a positive reception.

68: Does Kee have any plans to place any of its IP into the public domain for ‘open-source’ types of development?

JR: I believe you will see us become more active in this area, especially as it relates to safety oriented technologies.

68Caliber:  Very interesting! “Open source” has been proving itself in the computer and digital world for some time now.  It is encouraging to see Kee beginning to engage with the concept.

68: How does Kee see the acquired IP fitting in with its existing product line?  Will it be using it (where appropriate) to improve/enhance Kee offerings or does Kee intend to re-issue various Smart Parts designs under their own name (Shocker, for example)?

JR: Ultimately time will tell, but current discussions are all centered around the acquired IP opening up opportunities to incorporate or enhance existing offerings. It’s certainly one less constraint in the new product development process.

68: Will Kee be distributing GOG product?   Rumors abound.  One of them is that GOG has worked out a “deal” with Kee prior to Kee’s acquisition, perhaps agreeing to manufacture product or even using the Smart Parts China manufacturing facility to make their own product.  Any truth to such?

JR: There are currently no manufacturing deals in place with GoG. Prior to and throughout this process KEE and GoG leadership have built and maintained a solid relationship. Much like other manufacturers, KEE will always explore ways in which we can build relationships and explore strategic opportunities not only for our companies’ interests, but those consistent with our focus on growing the sport.

68Caliber:  Looks like there will not be a line of Kee-based former Smart Parts products – but the door remains open for Kee to distribute GOG product, which is essentially the same product under different names.

68: Forgetting SP for the moment:  if someone wanted to license a KEE patent, would it be available for license?  Would the fees allow for production at competitive prices?

JR: We will always be willing to listen to such proposals. The second part of the question is a little harder to answer as it requires everyone to agree on the term “competitive prices”. I will say this. KEE is committed to growth in our industry. We believe competition supported by new, innovative products that are compelling to the consumer is a big piece of that growth. With those thoughts in mind, we are absolutely committed to partnerships that meet those simple criteria.

Thank you John – 68Caliber and its readers greatly appreciate the time you took to answer these questions and wish Kee good luck in its future endeavours.

In summary: 68Caliber believes that chances are pretty good that after a few months, some SP product replacement parts may be finding its way into the pipeline; we believe that chances are good that Kee will be distributing GOG product; we also believe that Kee will be handling its IP in the same exact manner that it has handled it up till now; focused on protecting its legitimate interests but not engaging in wholesale warfare against the rest of the industry.  In fact, so much IP in one place may very well make it easier and less expensive for competitors to enter and/or remain in the marketplace.


For clarity and correctness sake, a copy of this article was provided to John Robinson of Kee Action Sports prior to publication; Mr. Robinson’s review of the materials here was for the sole purpose of ensuring that his answers were accurately portrayed and did not address editorial content.

Kee Action Sports is also the distributor within the paintball industry of the editor’s book – A Parent’s Guide To Paintball.

GHP2: Interview with Greg Hastings

68Caliber recently had a chance to catch up with paintball’s resident video game guru – Greg Hastings – and posed a few questions for the submariner about the progress GHP2,  the latest release in his video game franchise, has been making:

68Caliber: You had a pretty comprehensive promotional campaign for the game, involving at least three different levels, from viral/street teams to
traditional advertising, live in-store promotions & etc.

How did that approach work?  Were you satisfied with it?  Did the
paintball community respond well?

Greg Hastings: We need them to respond better!  Its important to our sport!  Get the good word out!  We get crappy reviews from non paintball players.  They don’t even give the game a chance.  We get great reviews from ballers, well, because it a great paintball game!  Go figure.  The marketing continues and every paintball needs to be evangelistic about this game and paintball in general.  So, no, not satisfied!  We need more help!

68Caliber: Back to basics:  could you tell 68caliber’s audience a little bit
about the first time you ever played paintball and what about that
game grabbed ahold of you?

Greg Hastings: It scared the hell out of me.  I loved that! We used the single shot pistols.  They did not even call it Paintball, then!  I spent the entire time in a hole hiding!  I broke that habit quickly! This sport just fit my
personality perfectly!

68Caliber: GHP2 is delving into scenario/milsim play and I’m seeing a little push back from the paintball community on that;  I assume that you’ve
included this aspect of the game because A: – legitimate way to play,
B: – growing market within paintball.  Why do you think that, even in
a video game environment, there is so much animosity and rancor
between the different ‘tribes’ of paintballers?

Greg Hastings: Well, that’s the beauty of the sport.  It has its basic elements, but you can mold it to your specific interests and fun factor.  I hear the the speedballers hatin on it, but this game is full of all kinds of paintball. We are not focused on any single type.  Our sport is woodsball.  99%

68: This past year you did a lot of traveling and playing in scenario
games?  How was it for you personally?  How does that crowd compare
to the tournament scene?

GH: Way more fun.  Way more challenging.  Way more rewarding.  I am meeting players who just enjoy the game and are not looking for anything other than a great time with people who love the sport as much as themselves.  I am  also one of those guys.  The fields are always different, so I’ve been lucky to be able to play so many types of fields and terrain.

68: Activision looked like they were going to go after you hammer and
tongs and have seemingly backed off since;  I’m curious to know why
such a large company would be interested in retaining the franchise
but not working with you on it?

GH: That is a great question!  I am curious too.

68: Do you think that having a rep as a paintballer and an industry
(kind of) behind you helped in any of your dealings with Activision,
or was it  simply the fact that you own your own name?

GH: We had our game made already when we began to work with them.  They saw we had the industry behind us as well. We needed a publisher and they seemed to be a great choice and were in many areas.  They reached out to us first. They just became ugly at the end.

68: How does the videogame industry compare to the paintball
industry?  better?  more cut throat?  bigger vision?  what?

GH: Its do or die in video games.  You have to be good enough to get to the next game.  There is way more at stake in gaming, I feel. Even though making games if very difficult, we are lucky to have such a large fan base from paintball, that’s why I feel we can make paintball themed game for a long time.

68: Video game development doesn’t stop with release;  I hear mentions
of upgrade paks & etc.  Can you share a few tidbits about what’s coming next?

GH: Well, We have been dropping patches via LIVE to make some upgrades to the game which you will see happen when you get your updates.  We solved many  issues the gamers were complaining about, so that is good news.  The DLC pack is coming soon and not only will that have all the great new fields, gear, players, modes, etc, etc, it will have some excellent game play upgrades suggested by our fans! AND our PS3 version will be downloadable on the PlayStation Network very shortly.  This one’s got the MOVE and all the bells and whistles!

68: The “reviews” of the game are a really mixed lot:  I see a lot of
players praising it with astericks and a lot of players dissing it
with astericks;  first of all, how would you characterize the launch
and initial response?  as good as could be expected?  disappointed?
blockbuster land here we come?  And secondly:  in reading some of the
comments on various forums (paintball, not gaming), I see a fair
number of folks getting extremely agitated over what I would consider
to be nitpicky stuff.  Some of it borders on pinging my BS meter.  Do
you think that any of this could be attributed to a deliberate
anti-GHP2 campaign, or do you think it’s the normal paintball
over-the-top, ill-considered, unthinking idiocy BS that we deal with
all the time?

GH: I have been standing behind hundreds of kids from all over North America while they have played the demo of our game.  I stood quietly and just listened to kids say “this is awesome”.  We had to turn the power off our
games every night, just to get people to leave.  The game is great.  Its a
great paintball game.  Its kid friendly too.  It has a lot going for it.  I
have been disappointed with the reviews, but most of the bad ones are from
non-ballers.  I got those same reviews from them for all my games, so they
are just haters of our sport, so my game has no chance with them.  I know
what I saw and heard first hand all year long.  I try not to listen to poor
reviews, but we have listen to constructive criticism and made many fixes
for those suggestions and will continue to do so, even in the DLC pack.  We
listen to the nitpicky stuff too.  I always look for the little details to
be improved too!

68: What’s next?  Upgrades or GHP3?  Seriously – what is the one
thing that didn’t make it into the game that you wanted to see in there?

GH: Many things about our sport have yet to be refined or added, so we have much to work with for out next games, as far a new content.  When you have the right amount of budget and time, you can produce a better game each time. You actually make the “next game” while doing the current game.  Features fall off and are added to a “next game” list.  You just run out of time on refining game play, so rather than take a chance and shipping a broken feature, you save it for the next one. GHP3

68: When are you going to host online tournaments?

GH: We don’t have the resource to do that, but great sites like are a great way to compete!

68: When are we going to be able to play part live, part online paintball?

GH: Hmmm, that hurts my brain to think about.

Thanks Greg!  Good luck with the game and hope to see you on the field soon.

68Caliber will be announcing some promotional give-aways for GHP2 shortly, so keep on looking for your chance to win some game swag!

Interview: MilSim Corps’ Richard Brea

Approximately three weeks ago, was contacted by the MilSim Corps scenario league; we were asked if we would be interested in becoming the media outlet for the new league.  (Side note:  68Caliber is interested in being a media outlet for anyone doing anything worthwhile in paintball.)

We were informed that the league had been quietly in operation for an entire season as it worked out the kinks in its operations (not a bad idea, btw) and we also learned that the league’s first ever championship was upcoming shortly (it has since taken place).

Following a two+ hour telephone conversation, 68Caliber submitted a series of email interview questions to Richard Brea, the League Commissioner.

But first – Check out our associated article celebrating the participants of the MilSim Corps Championship – here.

An interview with Richard Brea, MilSim Corp Commissioner:

68Caliber: First things first. You explained to me that you’ve been operating for just about a year now (your championship event is next weekend) and that you’ve deliberately kept things quiet. Can you tell me why
you haven’t been seeking publicity for the league up until now?

RB: When we thought of putting together a league for scenario paintball, we did a lot research on the web reading forum posts, talking to field owners and players. The one thing we learned, mostly from the forum posts, is that bad news travels really, really fast in paintball. So, what we wanted to do is get the first year going with a few fields and a few teams. Then work out any issues before growing to a larger scale. As you can see from the number of fields and teams, it grew much larger. However, we still wanted to make sure the league had any issues resolved before introducing the league to everyone. Our first season in the US has been completed and we’re now ready to offer it to the world.

68Caliber:As we discussed your format design, you told me that you had modeled it at least in part on the NPPL, and that you started with a ‘bottoms up’ approach, by identifying all of the so-called problems with scenario play. Can you explain what you meant by those methods of  design and tell us about a few of the issues you considered to be  problems – and what you’ve done to address them?

RB: Absolutely. This is what we’re most proud of. If we ever get involved in another venture again, in any industry or business, we will take this same approach. As I mentioned, we did a lot of research on forums reading hundreds of not thousands of posts. As we read them, we got a lot of info on what players did not like and what players wanted to see as well as the major obstacles as to why more players don’t play in a league.

The two main reasons we found were cost and travel requirements. Tournament leagues charge hundreds of dollars for team entry fees per event and the events are all over the country. Most people can’t afford traveling the country, getting hotel rooms to play in an event. As a result, we created a “sports” league. Each player pays a low annual membership and can play in all of the Regular Season Missions, Regional Playoffs even National Championships without any additional team entry fees. Teams play locally against other local teams at their local field during the regular season. Then teams compete regionally at the playoffs. The winners of the Regionals then go to the Nationals to compete for the National title. This means that to play in the regular season, players only need to travel to their home field. The Regionals are spread out throughout the country that any team should only need to drive to it, albeit, perhaps several hours. The only time players will need to fly or drive further is to the Nationals, making this affordable and accessible to any team anywhere. Additionally, the fields that host the Regionals are required to donate $10 of every player that attends to the Winning team of the regional to pay for travel costs to the Nationals. In the MilSim Corps, teams don’t have to be highly funded, only highly motivated. This is how we addressed the cost problem.

68: We also discussed the local nature of your format. Can you explain why you think its so important for things to be locally based, and give us some idea of how your format supports that concept?

RB: As for the regular season, teams play at their local field against other local teams. We have a field owner agreement that doesn’t allow the field to charge our members more than the normal field fees they charge walk-on players. So to play a MilSim Corps Mission, it costs the same as a normal day of paintball, the field fee and a half a case of paint. For example, with a field fee of $15 and a half a case of paint at $30, it will cost a player $45 once a month for 6 months to participate in a national level league. Additionally, teams only need to play 4 Missions in order to qualify for the Playoffs so the cost for the regular season could be as low as $180 depending on field fees and paint prices. The requirement allowing teams to miss 2 Missions but still qualify came from players stating that they don’t know if they can make all Missions so they may not be able to participate in a league with that many games. Just about every rule in the league was designed to solve a problem in the scenario paintball community.

The other major point of a locally based, nationally organized league is accessibility. Now any team anywhere can get to a national level by starting out locally.

It‘s also the true way of determining the top teams. In tournament leagues, whoever can afford to pay the entry fees and travel is who gets to play unless the event is near you. If a team can’t travel, they only play their local tournament. In the MilSim Corps, a national Champion is really a top team. This is why: the top teams from each field go to the Regional Championships, the winning team at the Regionals beat all of those top teams from the fields in their region and the National Champion beat all of the Regional Champions that beat all of the top teams from all of the fields. That is how a sports league works and again, any team can start out locally and get to a national level.

68: I was quite impressed by what you’ve managed to accomplish during a (quiet) year. You’ve got active participation in the US, Canada, UK, South Africa and Namibia, of all places. I bet most folks didn’t even know they played in Namibia (let alone where the country itself is, lol). Can you explain why you think you’ve managed to get such widespread international participation? I remember that you gave me some examples of how enthusiastic some of these teams are – could you share some of those examples?

RB: Well for 2010, we had active fields in the US and South Africa. For 2011, we will have Canada, the UK, Australia and Namibia. The growth is based on the fact that there is no cost to fields. The league does not charge license fees or registration fees to the field owners. The fields simply sign an agreement to run the Missions per the league rules, submit the scores and, most importantly, only charge players the normal field fees and paint prices. This creates a system where from the first game, the league is profitable to the field owners. The fields get new and repeat business from league members that go to their field to play, the players get a league that costs the same as a normal day of paintball and the league generates revenue to support the operations. Field owners are always looking for ways to bring in more players, it’s what they do as a business and the league brings the players with no required investment. It truly is a win-win situation. And again, this was designed by speaking to field owners that were wary of a league that costs to run and perhaps would not have the minimum turnout required to make it profitable. The fields schedule the Missions on open play days. If teams show up, the field owner just generated league revenue, if teams don’t show up, they lost nothing. This also gives our players a chance to play after their mission game.

Well, a few examples are from what players have emailed us and told us on the phone. Some of the comments were, “my team’s been around for 10 years and never got any recognition and this league offers that “(they actually won the National Championships this year), “we were wanting to from a team and this league gave us a reason to”. Those are the two that represent what the league has done for teams.

68: Please give us a brief overview of how the game works – the different missions.

RB: The MilSim Corps is a scenario based, Mission style game with player roles and objectives to complete. What that means is that we develop an overall scenario for the year called the Operation. Then we split that scenario into six separate games called mission. Each mission is part of the storyline and leads form one to the next. Fields will schedule a new and different Mission each month so teams don’t play the same scenario twice in a year. For example, in this year’s operation, Mission 1 was to find and obtain a map to a secret jail. In Mission 2, the storyline is that you have the map and know where the jail so now you’re going to rescue the prisoner. As you can see, in Mission 1, it’s a search Mission and Mission 2 is a hostage rescue Mission. Each Mission continues the storyline. This is very unique in a league where we don’t use flags and predetermined distances. But it gets better. Each individual Mission has 1 main mission objective (hostage rescue, etc) and 4 support objectives, Scout, Demolition, Sniper and Artillery. In a MilSim Corps Mission Team, there are 7 players and each player has a role and job to perform. So not only are teams trying to rescue the hostage but players have to complete 4 other objectives as well. Points are awarded based on the number of objectives completed. Now a MilSim Corps Mission Day consists of 2 teams playing 3 games against each other. In the first game, one team defends the objectives and the other team tries to complete the objectives. In the second game, the teams switch sides, so both teams get to play both sides of the Missions, attack and defend. The third game is called Ambush and essentially pits both teams to save the soldier in the middle in which a dummy is always used. Each month there is a different Mission, against a different team on a different part of the field with multiple objectives and assigned player roles. Our members love the games and don’t miss them if they could help it.

68: If you remember, I gave you a fairly hard time over stats and scoring and such, and found that you’ve got things covered. One of my concerns was that a team that isn’t interested in the missions could win a game by simply going for eliminations. You explained to me how your structure lets them do that, but preserves the core elements of scenario for other players. Could you elaborate on that?

RB: Yes. If a team trying to complete the objectives simply tries to eliminate all of the players on the team defending, they can ultimately walk around and complete the objectives. The first thing to point out is that there is a 30 minute time limit so a pure firefight may eat up too much time. The second thing is that some of the objectives have a time requirement to get full points. The Scout objective needs to be completed within 15 minutes. If not, the objective can still be completed but get half points. The best strategy to get full points is to try to get the objectives done. This system was implemented at the National Championships and no team got all points due to the objective time requirements. Everyone agreed that it works very well.

68: We also discussed the military simulation side of things; can you
explain how advancement and ranks and rewards work for the players and teams?

RB: Well, we developed the exclusive, patent pending armband scoring system to track player stats like no other system in paintball. Without a long explanation of how it works, we are able to track if a player was hot in a game and how many times, what role they played, if they completed their objective and if it was on time, and how many players they shot. Using these stats, we can simply say, if a player plays 6 games, survives 2 without getting shot and gets 6 kills, the player can move up to Private. All of the stats are recorded for a player’s entire career in the Corps so they are cumulative. Then when a player reaches 15 games played, 5 without getting shot, and 15 kills, then they move up to Corporal. In the MilSim Corps, when you see a player with a Master Sergeant rank, you know the player has earned it and what was done to achieve it. This is the only system in paintball that rank individual players at any field in the world. It’s true that if a team has no real competition at their local field, they will move up in rank but the individual player did accomplish their individual requirements. It’s like any team sport. Take football, a player may be a great running back but he probably has a great offensive line that contributes to the running back’s success but the running back did get the yards regardless.

68: How many teams do you currently have signed up?

RB: Well, we currently have over 130 teams registered to play. Not all have been able to play because we haven’t gotten fields near them and we’re working on that for 211.

68: Explain how field owners actually get a benefit from this league, your “private group” concept – I think it’s quite clever.

RB: This was touched on earlier. Essentially, the field schedules the Mission Day and teams show up and pay the normal field fees and paint prices. This is basically like having a private group call up a field and say, “we’d like to show up with 5o guys once a month and play a specific game.” All fields are setup to accommodate that and no field owner is going to say no to participate group booking. The great thing is that field owners get to choose the dates instead of the private group telling them when they need to play.

68: How about a little about yourself. I believe you told me that you and your brother put this thing together. When did you first start playing, and what inspired you to put together a league?

RB: 1995 my very first time and 1996 was James’ first time when I took him to play.

A few years back, I went to play paintball for Father’s Day with my two kids. There were only 10 people so we made 2 teams of 5. That day was the most fun I ever had playing paintball. We created Missions and worked together as a team. That is how I wanted to play paintball from then on but there was no league besides tournament leagues. You have to travel all over the country for each event and the entry fees are hundreds of dollars per event. That wasn’t affordable or accessible. So we started out doing research and developed what the MilSim Corps is today.

68: You told me that you’re an accountant and that would imply you’ve got a handle on the finances, which suggest that sponsors will get a nice bang for their buck working with MilSim Corps. How are you handling sponsorship and why do you think it’s a good deal?

RB: Currently, in the scenario paintball world, there are a lot of sponsorships going around. Most of these are simply offering the teams discounts of the sponsor’s products. Our exclusive MilSim Corps sponsorships require that a sponsor pay for a sponsored teams membership fees as well as provide a prize and the standard sponsorship discount. This is phenomenal that we can do this because players are basically paid to play in the league and represent the sponsor.

The cost is minimal to sponsors and once they become and official sponsor, they get fully promoted to all of the players and teams in the league. A sponsor can now offer special deals and discounts directly to the MilSim Corps members. When the new website is up, there will be a full sponsors page showing who the sponsors are and what kind of offers they give to MilSim Corps members. With over 130 teams and growing, we’re talking over 1000 players right now, before the growth for next year.

This may be a little self-serving, but what the heck. You told me
that you’d chosen 68Caliber as your exclusive news outlet to work
with. Why is that?
During our research, we discovered your website. We found that you continuously update with news and that when we went to other sites, you already had it on your website. We did less and less reading other paintball media and saved time by going to 68caliber first. It just made sense to us to have 68cailber announce the MilSim Corps for next year. Keep up the good work! It’s needed.

68: Explain how teams, fields and companies can sign up with your organization.

RB: Players can go to the league website and register their team name as well as pay for their league membership. It’s a simple one page form.

Field owners and potential sponsors should contact us directly at 888.9.MILSIM or by email at We like to discuss the league on the phone and make sure it’s a good fit for both partners. Sponsors should particularly contact us directly because we have several plans in the works that will cost the sponsors nothing but increase exposure.

Potential sponsors should also contact us directly at 888.9.MILSIM

68: You’ve got a patent pending for a combined armband and stats
recording system. Would you explain how that works and how you’ll be able to track every individual player’s performance?

RB: This would be cumbersome in an email so we recommend anyone to go to the website for an explanation. It’s a fairly simple system but would be lengthy to explain. The new website with videos explaining everything about the league will be up by mid-November. That would be the best source of information.

68: You first international championship is coming up next weekend – good
luck with that! How many teams are attending and how did they qualify for the championship? (the event has happened since this interview took place

68: What’s in store for 2011?

RB: The biggest thing in store for 2011 besides more fields, more countries, more teams and more offers for our members is the first international scenario teams sponsorship challenge. This is where any teams and players out there can go to their local field and play the MilSim Corps games without first joining the league. It’s essentially, play before you pay. If you like the league after that, you can join.

The Challenge Day is an opportunity to experience the league games and win a real team sponsorship as discussed earlier. All of the teams can show up to the Challenge day at their local MilSim Corps field. The teams will play at least three Missions against other teams. The team with the highest score that day will win a MilSim Corps sponsorship where the sponsor will pay for the team’s membership as well as provide discounts and prizes at the discretion of the sponsor. What other league can you play without paying and possibly win a real team sponsorship that pays you…only in the MilSim Corps!