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BLOG/ARTICLES/POP CULTURE

Paintball, Video Games & Comic Books Join Forces!

Lars HindsleyBy Lars Hindsley Wed 22 Mar 2017 8:12 AM EST | 912 Views

(DM) – Wednesday March 22, 2017 Paintball, video games, comic books what?  What do these have in common? A lot more than you may know. In short, these pastimes have converged with cosplay. In a word, LARP’ing. LARP is an acronym, Live Action Role Playing. It came about from fantasy dice games coming to life where players actually dressed in costume. More than just dressing their part, players acted out what the game roll of their dice required using prop swords and prop knives in mock battle for example. 

How does LARP’ing connect to paintball, video games and comic books?  Consider the saying, “All dressed up and nowhere to go.”
Assassin's Creed
You have this great outfit with some practical uses, but not put to use. That’s a bummer. You can see where this is going now can’t you? Paintball, comic books and video games have joined forces not to simply look the part, but play practical roles. Not all costumed characters lend well to this but many do. Seen below are masks that don't work well for paintball but would work with paintball's cousin, airsoft. However with the right eye coverage (high impact lexan) these two could be paintball ready.
Cosplay from New York Comic-ConPaintballers, video gamers, and comic book readers often overlap in interest. Paintball is the one activity where you get to exert yourself physically. For year’s video gamers have been in awe of some of the on screen outfits worn by their virtual counterparts yearning to act out in real life what they enjoyed on the small screen. Comic book heroes bring that same desire to the table.

Enter cosplay which is short for costume play. In most respects cosplay precedes LARP’ing. If you’ve dressed up for Halloween or a costume party, you’ve cosplay’d. It’s reached epic proportions inConnor Kenway Paintball Hood

society since the turn of the millennium primarily due to events such as Comic-Con, Otakon, and many other cons. For paintballer’s it was a matter of time before these cultural phenomenon’s crossed over into the sport of paintball.

Paintball like other sports has various types of gameplay. Speedball  requires the most athleticism, yet most play casual woodsball (aka rec ball) and scenario games requiring less intensity.  Scenario paintball games are overblown, and over-the-top experiences. Where in many recreational paintball games you top out at 20 or maybe 30 players per side in a 15 minute game, imagine a game that lasts all day or even days  –  that is scenario. Furthermore consider games with hundreds of players and sometimes thousands.
DangerMan LARPING in Scenario Paintball
Scenario games do have themes with objectives but are not re-enactments. The outcome is decided on the team most focused on achieving the goals and objectives (with point values) throughout the event. Despite playing for a win, there is a huge element of laissez faire. You can walk off the field at any time for your own break or even leave the event early. With that understood players found over time some of the game elements called for certain players to be labeled as characters, and here is where cosplay or LARP’ing finally enters into paintball. Scenarios are often given a theme from either a comic book, film, or video game. 

Originally paintball scenarios used war situations as themes. Skirmish in Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania host's the Invasion of Normandy (known as ION) annually. In the embedded YouTube video below (DangerMan Media) an actual Bag Piper plays during this massive opening battle! This video is a can't miss for any avid paintballer or those who have never experienced a large scale scenario paintball experience. 


ION draws over 4,000 players for a three day weekend each July. Paintball players from around the world will camp out and even dress in military garb. Some will make tongue cheek jokes to keep things light, take for instance German player representatives sporting a Marvel Hydra flag at their campsite.  Or players chanting in game, “Hail Hydra!”  It's a matter of time before we see a Hydra Bob on the field. 

Hydra BobIn Chesapeake City Maryland at OXCC paintball complex each December is Battle of the Bulge, taking its name from another World War II event.  At Topgun Paintball in Jackson New Jersey (physically next to Great Adventure Amusement Park), is another annual scenario called the Alamo, in that case an actual fortress is stormed in a final battle when the event closes.

Poncho at the Alamo
Fulda Gap is yet another annual scenario out of North Carolina. To the North in Kitchener, Ontario - Flag Raiders holds Phoenix Project D Day 28, Guns of Navarone. Break out your WWII clothing for that annual event each June. 

Joe Kimpson of Flag Raiders
Over time game producers expanded the creative dial. Now we have events such Living Dead in Pemberton New Jersey by On Target Paintball. Can you guess what Living Dead is based on? TV show or comic book? Both? Or is it from a video game? Living Dead uses a third entity of zombies (players without paintball guns) in the game to thwart two primary paintball teams battling during the day. It is here in a game such as Living Dead where LARP’ing and cosplay show value to paintball. Living Dead has more than zombies, it has characters from the Resident Evil video game emulating their skillset. In the photo below Justin Stoner portrays Nemesis with not only uber abilities, he's sporting one nasty rig.

Living Dead based on Resident Evil

Yes, that is a real paintball gun! (Seen above) Modified but real! Behind Justin is Robert Brejcak dressed as Wesker from Resident Evil. Living Dead's two main teams are The Brotherhood and Stranded with the smaller third entity being the Umbrella Corp / Undead. 

Passion is part of the game and Living Dead is one demanding scenario. Justin Stoner's Nemesis suit retains a lot of heat around the head especially, causing the him to sweat a good bit on a hot summer day. In the case of Nemesis he was a neutral character that either team could use to their own ends IF their scientist could turn Nemesis to their side. Robert Brejcak's Wesker played for the third entity Umbrella Corp, his character was invincible like a tank, but with some nuanced rules. Wesker could not start battles and was only armed with a pistol. 

Scenarios can't always directly reference a licensed product so you'll often get variations like, COGs of War (Gears of War) or Metal Gear Tactics (Metal Gear Solid). 

Scenarios are constantly being modeled on comic books and games, such as X-Men with the Brotherhood vs the Mutants, or Star Wars, vrs Star Trek, (see poster below) where some Star Trek players can beam in behind enemy lines.   


Star Wars vs Star Trek Paintball Game

In the example of X-Men some players had super power attributes such a autohealing (essentially the same as a tank in most other scenarios). From themes based on 1940’s noir to video games like Assassin’s Creed, Metal Gear, Halo, Destiny, the list goes on.

Players in these vast game scenarios are offered the chance to bring their own favorite character or dress style into the game – making it work functionally is often the real trick.  You can't NOT wear a paintball mask so those are always worked into the outfit. Yet in many cases, the clothing you wear that is modeled after video game characters or comic books is in fact functional.

Take for instance the Connor Kenway hood from Assassin’s Creed, or the Hunter’s hood and cloak from Destiny. These offer practical uses. In both cases the hood provides you a visor often not included on most paintball masks. In addition, during inclement weather from snow or rain, the hood keeps your mask from fogging, not to mention provides some warmth in the cold. The Destiny Hunter cloak leaves your gun arm free while catching paint under the opposing arm. It looks great and has function.  

Function is great, but it is not required. In the game scenario mentioned above, The Invasion of Normandy, players on the allied side dressed as Captain America. Some just had a laugh and dressed as pizza chef’s to really be silly, and still they LARP’d in paintball.

You can build things yourself or buy functional cosplay. If you have the talent and tools, constructing gear with a sewing machine can be a fun experience in and of itself, however what if you want to buy? You could of course commission things to be built using resources such as the 501st  when it comes to Star Wars related items, or a more expansive cosplay site such as The RPF .
 
For nuanced items such as the Assassin’s Creed Hood you could use Etsy or if you have the extra cash try Volante Design’s for stunning Hoodies, gauntlets, and coats from The Assassin’s Creed franchise: http://www.volantedesign.us/.
  Volante Designs used in PaintballFor more hoods based on Star Wars, Destiny, Titanfall, Legend of Zelda, and Mass Effect you gotta check out Musterbrand at https://us.musterbrand.com/en/.  We’ve found a great resource is the New York Comic-Con, not only can you find Cosplay’ers that will knock your socks off with their own work, it’s great to network with them to help you or sell you a future item. Even better is the New York Comic-Con show floor where we found Volante Design’s and Musterbrand have items right on the show floor for immediate sale.

The many pop culture interests of paintball, comic books and video games have collided into a new cultural phenomenon. Do we call it LARP’ing in paintball or paintball cosplay?  What you call it is up to you, but has become an interesting change to paintball where geeks and jocks collide.
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