KELLY: I have made a number of comments about the difficulties parents can have getting their kids into paintball and the potential lost revenues from manufacturers not marketing to parents more directly. After many words and discussions about this subject in various forums and with numerous dads and kids, I was asked “So Kelly, as a parent, what do you want to see?”
I wasn’t really prepared for that basic question. So I wrote many more words, until I got the reply “OK, so you need confidence.” YES! That is it. One word “CONFIDENCE”. Confidence that my kids are safe, doing what they (and I) were expecting to be doing when they go play (meaning having a terrific experience at a good field that works well with kids), and that when they ask for a marker, I have confidence that it is the right one for them, and one that can be easily maintained, serviced, has real support, good manuals and internet type buzz in blogs and YouTube to learn more.
And if I don’t have that confidence, it will be difficult for me to justify the purchase of an inexpensive marker, yet alone the one the kids want with all the cool sniper stuff or whatever their role model player is using.
What makes sense is that fields, scenario games and markers are nicely branded for me, the paintball-novice parent. Like PG-13 movie branding or Teen vs Mature video games. I want to see a safety brand on any field I look at sending my kids to or any scenario games I send them to, and a “parent-friendly” brand on Internet product pages or store displays for any marker I need to check out.
Here are specific examples. Two brands are needed one that is oriented to kid safety and difficulty, and the other to a safe, practical parent-friendly purchase. They should give the impression that a parent, mom or dad, can make good decisions about all this paintball stuff.
GIZMO: Fields and Products do need to have ratings printed in BIG BOLD LETTERS to indicate the level of difficulty / safety hazard / etc that might exist. For example, a large paintball field could have an overall rating which covers everything from their field to their air-fill station. They could also have individual area ratings. Such as if their air station is unsupervised it could get a caution type branding, warning that it’s USE AT YOUR OWN RISK and not necessarily kid friendly. The entire field layout could even be printed on a huge sign, and each area could have ratings as well as “kid friendly” or “super dangerous, ADULT APPROVED”.
The more REAL information that we boast about in products, games, fields, etc, the more educated people are going to be. This will result in a safer and more fun experience for everyone (including the business which is trying to make a profit.
KELLY: Parents need to be fully and honestly informed in order to have confidence.
MATT: My first marker was not expensive. It was kind of heavy, but always worked even when I dropped it in mud or on the hard ground. And I could change out all the parts, which is lots of fun and good because I change my mind all the time on what I like or don’t like. And sometimes I want to be a sniper, but other times I want to be an attacker, and so I need different markers or parts of markers depending on what I want to do. So until you really know what you want, having a marker that can be lots of things is good. And you find out how much they weigh and how that gets really heavy by the end of the day. And it helps if you can know before you buy that something may not work for you. Like I can’t turn the air supply on and off without a pliers on my new marker. Kids need to have good information from other similar kids so we don’t get the wrong thing. Your parents will be mad if they get you something and then you don’t like it and want something else. If there was a place to make a marker or add on to yours to test it first, and then buy what works, that is the best. It would be fun building markers from lots of parts with my friends.
Kids like to build fun markers with other kids, and kids like to play on fields that have lots of kids. We make our own missions and ways of having fun, instead of just doing like the adults do. And we like fields that have lots of different types, like small towns, or woods, or old cars, or forts. Lots of options. But the refs should let you play in all of them. Sometimes they always keep going back to one field because certain players like that one. But that doesn’t mean everyone wants to play at that same field. Some fields have refs that don’t watch well, and that makes me not want to play so much because you get shot too much when you shouldn’t. And some fields have bad paint, that won’t break and that hurts, or it breaks too easy inside the barrel, so you have to quit playing because you can’t shoot. So having good information about fields makes sure that kids will have fun when they get there and want to go back.
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Upcoming articles Kid Scenario Game Checklists, Air-Tank Safety, and Paintball Farm Teams.
Article by Kelly Wical, Tyler “Gizmo” Carruthers, Tina “Golden Girl” Ruzzo