Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Middle Grounders

Yesterday in the airsoft vs. paintball article, I wrote briefly that most people hover right around the middle of the political spectrum (that's not how I worded it but that's what it amounted to). We don't debate whether the line should be drawn on the right side or the left side of the spectrum, but rather whether it should be drawn just right or just left of centre. Things would be a lot more heated if half the citizens in a country wanted the line drawn on the right side and the other half wanted it on the left side. This, to a certain extent, has happened in the various places in the world, and things have gotten very ugly. What does this have to do with paintball and airsoft? Very little, but bear with me.

I also wrote an untruth yesterday. I didn't realize it during the writing, but I should have. It has to do with an issue that is very fundamental in my philosophy about running a paintball facility. It has to do with the issue of pain and the lack thereof for the most part in airsoft. I wrote that paintball will always trump airsoft because of the sensory perception, or pain, involved in paintball. Airsoft will not get the adrenaline flowing the same as paintball and players in airsoft not knowing that they have been hit leads to confusion and frustration.

That statement is not entirely true. Paintball will not always trump airsoft because we have more pain. As a matter of fact, I personally believe that airsoft has grown over the years while paintball's growth has stayed stagnant or possibly even declined because of the pain aspect; basically too much pain or discomfort.

I still believe that a certain amount of pain is beneficial and a lack of pain or very little pain hurts the popularity of a game of tag. But we all know that over the years the game of paintball has changed. There was a time when a person played all day and if theywere hit with half a dozen paintball during the day, they were considered to have been hit a lot. Today players can be hit half a dozen times or more in less than a second. If those balls hit more or less the same spot on your body, each subsequent hit hurts a little more than the prior one (think of hitting a bruised verses a non bruised part of your body).

There are a lot of people on this planet who are willing to play an adrenaline filled game of tag where a little discomfort intensifies the experience. However, there are a lot less people on this planet who are willing to play a game of tag where the discomfort is so great, that the game is no longer fun. This is where the middle ground aspect comes in.

We don't play games of tag with pellet rifles for instance (most of us anyway). Why? The discomfort level is too great for most people. Similarly, laser tag is something most adults don't do on a regular basis. Why? It's boring. There is no discomfort and therefore very little adrenaline flowing in your veins. Somewhere between those two extremes lies airsoft and paintball. Airsoft is closer to laser tag while paintball is closer to the pellet gun example (but not too close). Most people are going to choose something in the middle. Which will they choose? That really depends on where the pain aspect sits on the discomfort spectrum. At either end of the spectrum will be very close to zero people wanting to participate and somewhere near the middle will be the spot where the greatest amount are willing to participate.

Over the years, as paintball has moved farther and farther up the spectrum towards more pain and discomfort, fewer people are interested in taking part. They may still want to play tag games, so they are going to look at something like airsoft. They would probably prefer something with a slightly higher pain aspect, but their other choice, modern, high intensity paintball, is too far towards the extreme pain part of the spectrum, so airsoft it is. If they find airsoft too "boring" (not enough adrenaline) they might give up tag games altogether.

From a paintball business perspective, finding that middle ground is beneficial. It's at that part of the discomfort or pain spectrum where the greatest amount of people are going to want to visit your establishment. Throw a decent clean facility, good value pricing, and good customer service into the mix, and you stand a chance of having a great success. Move along the pain spectrum in either direction, and the amount of people willing to take part is going to diminish.

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