Monday, June 8, 2009


The only thing constant in life is change.

Our game has changed over the years; many times and in many directions. If we were to be able to travel back in time to that first paintball game in New Hampshire in 1981, we would see that it is a very distant cousin to what we play these days. Changes were made right from the start. Rules of the game and new variations of the game were dreamed up. Technology was developed and better, more reliable equipment has been sought ever since that first game.

Some of these changes were made in the name of improving the image of the game. Others were just an answer by manufacturers to supply what was asked for by the participants of the game. Almost all changes were made because someone thought the changes would improve the game and make it “better” and more alluring to a greater number of people. And sometimes changes were made because some smart marketer thought that he could revolutionize the game and in the process make a few bucks (or maybe even a lot of bucks).

So now, when we think back, we can think and recall what paintball was like at various times in our relatively short history. Because paintball wasn’t played until 1981, we can even still talk to most of the 12 players of that first game. There are players still playing that played in the very early days, when 12 grams were the only option and markers didn’t even have pump handles yet. If you talk to some of these old timers, they will most often tell you how much fun it was to play “back in the day”. Back when you made your move because you could hear the tell tale hiss of your opponent changing his 12 gram CO2 cartridge. Or back when things had progressed to constant air and consistent pump guns.

But things didn’t stay like that. Paintball “progressed”. It changed and is still changing. Any sport or hobby changes. Ones that rely on equipment or machines in order to take part, seem to change even more.

But I often wonder. I know it’s a hypothetical situation that couldn’t have happened. But what if, at some point during our progression of the game, it wouldn’t have changed anymore. What if there would have been some barrier on technology or what if there had been a governing body that said, “OK, that’s it. We’re keeping things exactly as they are right now.” What if for instance, that would have happened at a point before the development of semi-autos? Would paintball have died? Would the growth have stopped? Would people have stopped playing because the game would not have been as much fun (remember though, they would not have known any different)?

Or would people still have continued to play the game? Would people discovering it for the first time have had just as much fun as those old timers tell us they had?

These are just ponderings of an old man (by paintball standards). The game has and will continue to change. Now there is talk of some industry types making a push for .50 caliber paintballs. This one is purely being pushed for profit motives, as far as I can see. The advantages will be marketed heavily and with the release of some cool equipment, there will be an immediate following. If they get lucky enough and market it well enough (I guess than it would have little to do with luck), it may work and the first ones in the game will make a bunch of moola.

Would it be a good change for the industry? I don’t think so. There will be some short-term profits to be made selling new gear to those infatuated with the concept. The long term affects would not be particularly positive for participation in the game, in my opinion. If they can sell it to the tournament crowd, there will be some major moola made in a very short time.

But nevertheless, for better or worse, changes will continue in this industry. That will remain the only constant.

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