Future of Paintball -Part 1, Noobz!
The future of paintball comes down to one thing: You. It doesn’t depend on manufacturers, or professional teams, or even fields. You are the only thing that really matters to the growth of paintball, and its longevity as our sport. And if the following seems like common sense to you, then good! None the less, these seemingly obvious points are beyond vital to the survival of paintball. And whether or not you are already aware of these points is irrelevant, what matters is whether or not you apply them. This series of articles is my soap box for an attempt to revitalize our game and ensure that it continues.
First, the noobies. If you’ve ever read any magazine article or weblog preaching at you about how you were a noobie once, and how you have to be nice to them and hold their hands and reassure them that there is a Santa Clause; then you probably know where this is going. Noobies are truly the lifeblood of the paintball world. One day, you are going to get too old to play this game any more. That’s when the torch is passed on and, hopefully, future generations get to enjoy our game just as much as we have.
Now, instead of going into a diatribe on how it’s bad to do this or that to the noobie, I’m going to make a point that I feel some people tend to overlook or not place enough emphasis on; how you act at the paintball field has a direct impact on new players, regardless of whether or not your actions are actually directed at them. If I wanted to I could assemble a uniform that is Scotch-guarded, Teflon coated, which also has a magical enchantment to assist in the prevention of a paintball leaving a mark on me all so I could cheat my fellow players to compensate for my overall lack of skill in an attempt to cover up my enormous level of suckitude.
Now, if I were to take this magical cheater’s armor (Defense: 14 Attack: 1 Encumbrance: 4…wait, wrong game) to this game and brag my stupid cheater head off about how stinking awesome I am for not having to actually play the game I just spent all my mommy’s money to go to – everyone is going to hear me, and eventually see me. This includes, of course, the noobies in attendance. Some of them will get the idea that my behavior is acceptable and should be copied, and they go on to spread this terrible attitude that infects our sport like a cancer.
Whereas others will feel that this is the common attitude and will lose interest in the sport as they are victimized by other cheaters who inexplicably enjoy making stand-up ‘ballers waste their time and money. Another example might be when the bad sportsman gets beat in a shoot out, and instead of doing the right thing and congratulating his opponent on a nice shot or good move; starts shouting and screaming bloody murder and tries to start a fight.
Once again, the same dilemma appears, some noobies see this as the acceptable behavior and emulate it while others are completely turned off paintball by it. What it comes down to is this: the new guys always look to the experienced for cues on how to act and handle themselves. From the way you hold your marker in a battle to the way you conduct yourself during game play and off the field – you are the unwitting ambassador of paintball to every new player that comes to the field.
As a ref, I spend a lot of time around paintballers as an observer, and it always seems that this is the case, regardless of how old the first timer actually is. I’ve seen older guys come out and learn a thing or two from players half their age, and I’ve seen the 10 year olds coming out and trying to be more like our local “heroes” who wear the camo and look like characters from COD or like the professionals they see on youtube. It happens all the time and in many cases the noobie seems to have no idea he or she is actually emulating the other players on the field.
Spending time with these new-comers and helping them to come up in the sport the right way is the first key to using your power to preserve the sport of paintball indefinitely. You don’t have to hold worship services to the paintball gods, and there is no need to gather all the noobies around the tallest hill on the field as you walk down it with stone tablets bearing the “Ten Commandments of Paintball.” All you have to do is what you are, hopefully, doing already: playing straight-up paintball in an honest, and sportsmanly manner. They’ll see, and they’ll come away from it with the right view of our game and how it should be played.
I’ve seen the bad apples come out and start trouble, and I’ve seen the noobies’ various reactions as the dust settles. I’ve watched some of the kids who come to my field go on to other fields for a long period of time where the staff is more lax, and even encourage this bad behavior come back and act just like all the other kids who frequent those fields when they come to mine. (On a side note, if you come to Boss Paintball in Locust, NC looking to get away with this type of behavior let me warn you: We have a Rancor Pit). One of the things I absolutely love to watch is our experienced regulars taking time out of their day to bring one of the noobies in under their wings.
It may be just for a few minutes out of the entire day, but the positive impact this definitely goes a long way to getting that new player hooked. You don’t have to show them all of your top secret super ninja moves, but simply helping them understand the proper way to hold a paintball marker, showing them better ways to stay in cover, or even just listening to their war-story after a game (“I saw 5 of them, and I only had one paintball left….then just as fast as I could tactical roll out from behind my bunker and I eliminated ALL of them in one shot!”) does a lot to keep them coming back for more.
I see a lot of new players coming out to try paintball for the first time who get this kind of attention have a sort of epiphany; they begin to realize that paintball is more than just running around and shooting in someone’s general direction. It is a game that has multiple arms – from strategy to athleticism – and thus has a great deal to offer anyone who wants to get into it. We can influence these noobies to become regulars simply by sharing our passion for the game with them. So, remember, you can plant the seeds for paintball’s long term sustainability through direct and indirect action.
How you carry yourself, how you interact with others; all of this impacts the future growth of paintball. Are you doing your part?
Mike "Voodoo" Shumate
Originally posted on 'Voodoo Spells It Out'