Saturday, October 17, 2009

Think Globally, Act Locally

I stole the title from our environmentalist friends, but we can use the thought to talk about the paintball industry just as well. This will also be a continuation of the Who has the Power article.

I think we can all agree that the paintball industry as a whole is in a bit of trouble. Retail and wholesale sales are down, the number of players showing up at fields is down overall, and manufacturers, fields and stores are closing at a faster rate than new ones replacing them.

When we have discussions about why this is taking place we get all sorts of interesting suggestions. One of the main ones that pops up is how play at the fields has changed over the years. The attitudes of the players have changed and we get all sorts of behavior problems showing up at field. Behavior problems that affect other players at the field, most importantly new players and those that aren’t looking for an extreme adventure when going to play paintball.

There are always those that suggest that players have to take responsibility for their own actions, that if we can change the attitudes of the players, we’ll be golden. But what are the odds of that ever happening? Even a first time player coming out on a company outing may look forward to being Rambo for a day and he fully intends to shoot everything in sight. He doesn’t care how it will affect the field’s business or how it will affect the industry or even how it might affect the people he is shooting up. Getting every player to play nice, just isn’t feasible. That’s not to say we can’t work on getting as high a percentage of players to play nice. The less people that are jerks, the better, obviously. Hopefully good behavior will rub off and spread. But there are realistic limits to the success of such an endeavor.

So how do we ”fix” the industry? What can we do to control the behavior of those that choose to behave badly? As a field owner, I can only try to control the behavior at my field. I can’t control the behavior at a field I am not involved with. But then I have to ask myself, why would I even need to concern myself with the behavior of players at other fields? I don’t. I have no influence anyway at any field other than my own and if another field owner chooses not to take control of his players, it’s his loss. If I provide a fun and safe place to play that’s all I can really do. And you know what, if every field owner does that, we’ll have an industry that’s not in trouble anymore.

If field owners of local fields start taking control of their customers, then the industry will be just fine. Field owners have the power to do that. If your local field is having problems because some of the customers are being jerks and it’s keeping other customers away, then your local field owner isn’t exerting his power correctly.

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