Friday, June 19, 2009

Levels of Participation

I’m a bit of a runner. Not great distances, but I like to get out two or three times a week if I can. I run somewhere between 5 and 10 kilometers (3 to 6 miles) usually. Running makes me feel like I’m at least not getting too out of shape.

I like the simplicity of running, just me and my shoes, shorts and a shirt and off I go. What could possibly be simpler than bi-pedal motion? We’ve all done it (with the exception of a few) since probably before we could speak and it’s a pretty efficient way to get around, compared to crawling anyway.

There are lots of people like me but far more that use bi-pedal motion to travel slower and shorter distances. I see all sorts of people out on leisurely strolls every day, far more than I see running. Then there is the other end of the bi-pedal spectrum, the long distance runners. Those people who take their bodies to the limit on a regular basis and run marathons or even greater distances. There are far fewer that are that dedicated and willing to put up with that much effort. The participation level for the different intensity levels varies considerably.

Paintball is much the same. There are people who want to participate at all the varying levels of intensity. But the numbers vary…a lot.

When going into paintball battle, there are those that want to go real slow, much like a stealthy hunter stalking his prey. If they can reach out and tag someone out rather than shoot them with a paintball, they are happier than if they had done the latter.

On the other end of the spectrum is the player that wants to be the paintball equivalent to a gladiator. He wants intense action and he wants it right away, the more, the better. There is of course all the ground in between as well.

Just like the stroller is not very likely to get too interested in running a marathon, the paintball player that stalks his prey very slowly and quietly, is probably not too excited about playing the intense version of paintball.

The difference is, rarely do we see a marathoner dragging a stroller along with him on his long distance endurance run. But in paintball we arm everyone with lots of firepower and ammunition, so that everyone is basically forced to play an intense style of paintball, whether they want to or not. It’s in your face, gladiator style competition for everyone. Then we wonder why people stop coming. Could it be that we made them run endurance races, when all they wanted to do was take a short stroll?


  1. This is why every single field should be FPO and have different levels of play if possible. My favorite field does this nicely:

    Rental - Rental only and hopper ball, no pods. Shooting someone within 10 feet gets you a warning. Two warnings and you are done.

    Intermediate - Anyone up to an Ion or low end. Pods are accepted but if you're shooting too much or simply owning the other team, you are bumped to...

    Open: Free reign.

    Granted, they are packed so they always have enough people for three groups.

    But what can fields do that have 15 players where 14 are rentals and one has a Luxe?

  2. Give the guy witha luxe a free rental, or have rules or pricing in place where a luxe is not an advantage.

  3. Yeah, we rarely segregate gear owners from renters. There are just too many people that own gear these days that come to play with their frineds that are renting. I mean, that's what we have been trying to get people that play paintball to do for a long time; get their friends to try it out. It would be pretty harsh to now say, "OK, you brought your firends to play, but now we are not going to let you use your gear."

    Like Raehl said, have rules or pricing in place that lessens the advantage of the high end marker. If youdon't, then you've given one guy 14 easy targets and he may have a great time and you have 14 people who may not come back again.

  4. What do you both think about playing games without a hopper? Or forcing people to play with a gravity feed?

    Do paintball retail stores around you get mad due to the players not buying the high ends goods because they aren't allowed at your field?

    As you've both argued for, this is also why paint should be AT LEAST $100 a case.

    Sorry for all the questions, but I'm only a player and I love to hear the owners side!

  5. Forcing people to play with certain equipment (or lack of) is a way to manipulate players to shoot less paint, if that is the objective, but I always feel it leaves a bad taste in players' mouths. Part of being a regular player is having your own gear and setting it up the way you like. Having someone tell you what you can or can't use can leave you resentful.

    I realize that higher paintball pricing can do that to some people as well, but it's a little different. You aren't mandating and giving orders. You just happen to have pricing that steers play in a certain direction. Players that don't like to go that direction (players that like to shoot more paint) will choose to play somewhere where they can go the direction they want to go (shoot lots of paint). Some people don't see it that way, but you are really only establishing is the type of paintball you want played at your facility with the pricing of the paintballs you sell.

    I need my average customer to spend a certian amount of money to pay my bills (this is true for every business). If I sell paintballs cheaper but then limit consumption in some other way, then I will have to raise prices somewhere else (ie. field fees, rentals). In the end, the player pays exactly the same for the same thing, but my way doesn't mandate it, it gets done automatically and the consumer chooses to do it on his/her own.

    As a field owner, I have to do what's best for my field. I can't be worrying about what the retailers are doing. I have always had a good relationship with all of the local retailers, but in the end, it's up to them to stock and sell what is popular. It's also up to them to decide whether they should be in business at all.

    It seems many paintball retailers in the past have opened up thinking they can create a market, rather than serve an existing market. Maybe if they open a field/retail outlet together, that might work to a degre, but to think that stocking high end markers when there is not much demand for them, is going to create a demand, may be bad business.