Thursday, March 15, 2012

Some thoughts on elitism and origin of the species in paintball

I made this as a reply to "Eskimo" over on Tech PB.  I wanted to share with 'yall too, as I don't want this to be buried in the millions of other posts.

The topic is on my videos about elitist paintball players, and so on.  Eskimo stated that calling yourself a "Tournament player" is just a way to describe what you regularly play.

"Like how speedball would be derived from X-ball, which would be derived from the larger woods fields. (X-ball did not evolve per say into speedball, X-ball fields are still around. One was simply, modified into another style, another environment) Scenario ball players, speedballers, tournament players are all like that. Just easy ways to describe where you tend to fall."
So, my reply, with some more photos thrown in for the bloggosphere :

X-Ball was actually stolen in a way from the original USPL format from 2000. The idea was that they needed to make a paintball match last a pre-set amount of time for TV purposes. A normal paintball match could go for 30 - 45 seconds, which is bad for TV. When viewed in this light, a lot of decisions made for paintball make a lot more sense.

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Back in the 1980's paintball had a reputation as a survivalist war game.  (click here for a "Nightline" video)   Keep in mind we also had "grampa Reagan" in office and being a red-blooded ass-kicker was part and parcel of being a citizen here. As we turned the corner into the 90's, and we had Bush Sr. ("I'm NOT a wimp!") paintball decided it needed to be a "kinder, gentler" sport. (any old guys will laugh at that, anyone younger than 20 won't get it, but that's cool) the reason being that the powers that be decided paintball needed to be on TV. Why? MONEY! TV brings in ad dollars, tie ins, and all that.

A little more set-up too. Back in the 80's the game was radically different. At $1 a tube of 10 rounds, you can imagine ROF was out the window compared to today. Games varied from field to field, but for the most part it was 45 minute games on 4-5 acre fields. When you got shot out, it sucked. I won't deny that. Especially if it was in the first 10 minutes of a long campers match. SC Village claims to have invented speedball (along with the second coming of Christ, but let's not go there) but a lot of fields created similar playing areas. The idea was it was a time killer, really. You got shot out of the main match, you jump into the "speedball" arena and take revenge on the other team for a while.

To that end, most of the speedball arenas were created to showcase woods skills in some way or another. Snakes are supposed to simulate crawling lanes, for example. Hyperball was the first commercially available pre-made field, and it was industrial grade PVC pipes. Reason given was "it's more like trees" (reality : It's cheap and easy to get.) But most fields literally threw hay bales in a somewhat mirrored pattern and called it the speedball course. Ok, moving on.

So most of the 90's was used to do anything, and everything, to make paintball TV friendly. Tournaments banned camouflage from being worn. In fact, my favorite "GAWD-Awful" image from paintball's past is in the 1993 JT Catalog :

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Yep, people wanted this setup.

It was in 1994 that paintball spent a lot of money to put the game on ESPN. And in 1995 they did it again to a massive flop, and ESPN said "We don't want your kind here no more" and that was pretty much that for a decade.

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ESPN the Magazine Fall, 2001 Issue 4.17 Page 152, under the title "Rejected X"

But I'm getting of topic and losing most of 'yall with the "wall of words". Point I'm getting at is that the game really hasn't evolved as much as it's been changed to try to cram it into places it doesn't belong. All along the way, the powers that be try to keep a foot in the past too, trying to keep the crawling lanes from woodsball into the X-ball arena but it really doesn't fit. So I would argue that paintball's derivative forms such as X-Ball, scenario, woods, speedball and so on are really the same game with only a few variations. A talented speedball player could hold their own in the woods, and a talented woods player can do the same on an x-ball field.

Which, bringing this back to the elitism, is ultimately where I have my problem with players who say "I'm a tournament player." Dude, you play the same game I do but you shoot 5X the paint and you think you deserve something for that. Check your ego at the door and come pound some dirt with me in the woods using a renter. Oh, you're above that? Thought so. Seeya in 4 years.

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