The invitation had said that the game of Paintball was most definitively not going to be like in the playstation games but I couldn’t help but think that the same rules applied than those I used in first person shooters namely:

  1. Find cover when you are under serious attack.
  2. Take a few moments to survey your surroundings.
  3. Plan a route which would not only get your enemies but preferably take them by surprise.
  4. Get someone trust worthy to cover your back and,
  5. Shoot the hell out of anything that’s not on your team…

I had gone to the birthday party invitation with a secret mission – to prove that gamers knew something about combat and that we could hold our own in a fight. The opposition was tough. We were fourteen competitors divided into two teams of seven – the black team and the green team. I was on the green and at first, I had looked at my crew with a touch of hesitation. They didn’t look like much and the opposition not only had two strappy young men ready for action but also my Other Half (a serious bit of emotional warfare tactic). It was going to be a tough game.

We played five rounds, the first one was called speedball where we did combat at close quarters between some wooden shields stuck to the ground. We were all nervous I think, you start the game knowing that you had to shoot the other team but you also knew that if the balls hit you it was going to hurt. A lot.
Admittedly, I froze for the first couple of seconds. I received a painful shot in the leg and, when I wanted to retaliate, my gun was still on safe.

Not very good going for the gamer.

But, then I took a breath. And another. And, another one just in case.

And, then I moved. First to the barrier right in front of me, then – to another. I made my line to the side, coming round the enemy on the right. Before I knew it and, unable to believe my luck – I had one in my sights. And, not only that – the person had his or her back turned towards me.

I fired like a maniac.

And shot my partner about three times in the shoulder. Oh dear.

Score one for the gamer but definitive brownie points lost in the bedroom front.

We moved onto round two. I decided to apply the same tactic as in my first round, sneaking to side to fire on our opponents but this time I was outsmarted because they knew what my tactic and had realized that I was one to watch on the field. I was shot out of the round in about five minutes, having not even used half of my bullets. The black team won. Again. Some serious strategising had to be done and I found myself turning to number 4 on my list of how to survive a first person shooter.

Get someone to cover your back. My choice: The Thornbird – a good, trustworthy friend of mine who didn’t mind shooting at my Other Half. This time and this round, we were going to be ready for the opposition. The whole team got together, had a pep talk and discussed tactics. We were put into a much larger area this time nicknamed ‘the village’. It looked like a nice, apocalyptic wasteland full of abandoned buildings, over turned cars and barriers. The Thornbird and I went at it like a pair of navy seals, covering each other’s back and shooting down any enemies that came our way. This time, our team won.

The fourth round was in ‘the forest’ and there The Thornbird and I were almost outsmarted by our own wit as we neglected to look at number two on my list namely: Survey your surroundings. Too early in the round we found ourselves pinned behind a barricade barely big enough to shield us both. We sat there like sitting ducks until we finally realized that we had to move. It was a daring dash but we found good cover and made up in splashes of paint and battle cries for our time lost behind the first barricade.

It was during this time that I shot Other Half again. Accidentally.

Oh double dear.

The green team won the round again and the last game was to be the one to decide who would be the ultimate winners. Admittedly, that round was the most brutal of all and it almost looked as if our team was going to be completely annihilated when one of the opponents members went bizzerk and started shooting her own team mates. That lead me to remember a number 6 on my list of’ surviving first person shooters’ and that was: Never underestimate the effectiveness of accidental friendly fire…

The Thornbird and I were among the last standing (as we had the most bullets I suspect) and the game ended without too many tempers lost and relationships burned. It was a LOT of fun, well worth the 14 proper shots that are now distributed all over my person. I’ll confess that today, I found myself thinking that I could’ve done without the sore muscles, the massive bruises and the pained Other Half (though I’ve been forgiven, heh) but the experience was well worth the inconvenience.

And, quite frankly I rocked. Because for every shot that I got, I dished out about two – proving that gamers (especially fit ones, hehehe) could hold their own in the real world.

And, I have to add – if aliens ever took over the world, I would want the Thornbird by my side.