I played paintball for the first time today! It was actually my gaming club’s idea to spend the remainder of their money for the year by having a paintball trip. I figured it made a ton of sense for a gaming club. I mean, paintball is just like LARP for a FPS – right! As the club advisor, I had to attend the trip. My club gave me the option to just watch, but I was like, no way! If I’m going to a paintball park, I’m totally going to shoot. So I did. Let me tell you a bit about my experiences.

Playing paintball with masks and guns and way more skin showing than I would have! Picture by Michael Neel

The Maps

There are a lot of different fields on which to play paintball. Our location had a ton of different set-ups. There were ones with lots of fences of varying heights and widths to stand behind. There were ones with different sized houses with doors and windows. One had a large fort-like building in the middle of the woods. Another had a small building at one end and a whole bunch of teepees. There was a lot of mud. That’s the one thing about console/PC FPS games – way less mud.

An example of a field with little buildings to hide behind and windows to shoot through. Picture by Top Rank Online Marketing

Game Type

We mostly played team against team. For the fort in the woods and the teepee maps, we played attack and defend. There are apparently a number of ways to determine what a hit is in paintball. Some people play one-hit kills, where if you get hit anywhere, including your gun, you’re dead. We played kill shots meaning that we had to get hit in the chest, back, or head before you were dead. This makes games go a little longer, but it means that you get hit a lot more overall since you can get slammed in the leg or arm and just keep going.

Just a note – paintballs hurt. If you ever go, wear clothes, thick clothes, that cover most of your body. I did that, and I still have quite a fwe good bruised welts. Also, my fingers got hit a few times. Those are going to be pretty red, black, and blue tomorrow. However, when you get hit, you get an adrenaline rush and that often masks a lot of the pain so that you just keep going.

A welt from a paintball hit. I have about ten of these right this moment! Picture by David Haberthur

We also played a few games with a respawn element. During the teepee-attack building-defend game, the attackers were allowed to walk back and tag up on the back wall when hit and then come back into play. Although, sometimes it was hard to tell who was in or out at certain points. This type of playing was more like Halo, except instead of time, we had objectives to end the rounds, whereas the version with kills is more like Counter-Strike, where killed players simply watch the remainder of the game.

Why I’d Paintball Again

It was way more fun than you might think considering that people are shooting at your with little balls of paint that not only hurt and bruise but also leave paint all over your clothes. At our place, they called it “hurting each other safely” and I think that was about a good description. However, there’s also a lot of strategy involved. You can’t stand in one place sort of behind a barrier and shoot randomly, no one will ever get hit. Therefore, you have to make effective use of peeking and communicate with each other about where the other team is. I was pretty good at both cover fire and drawing fire. Basically, I’m a terrible shot and move too slowly, but I can totally stick my gun out and fire! Although, I had a few really good shots on people over the course of the games!

Looks like fun, right! Picture by heymarchetti

Paintball is definitely not for everyone. Unless you can invest in some serious armor or you are okay with some pretty serious pain and bruising at the end of the day, you probably should go with just watching. However, as long as you are with the right group, it can be a really fun teamwork type of experience. I describe it as FPS LARPing, and I think that’s about right, and even though I don’t play very many FPSs (even if I did grow up on the original Wolfenstiein). If you like the idea of shooting up your friends with paint, hey, give it a try! How else can you get a bunch of nerds to play in the woods together for 5-6 hours? I had a blast!

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