War Games

From sharpshooting to paintball to couch potato activities

By Clay Payne

TFW Contributing Writer

(Photo: Clay Payne) David Nichols, 13, of Bentonville safely fires at an opposing teamate using a large tire as cover.

My stance on simulated war games such as laser tag, paintball and war (board and video) games is that all are these activities are designed for fun competition. Some people might say these activities bring out our inner violent side, but I say if you want real violence, turn on the evening news or read the front page of the newspaper.

I traveled around the area to observe the aforementioned war game activities, and what I saw was anything but violent. I saw friends competing against friends and fathers having fun with their sons. The greatest factor of these games is they are welcomed and supported by all ages, races and both sexes. Nobody’s left out of the fun.

At the firing range at Ozark Sportsman Supply in Tontitown on Aug. 11, 9-year-old Nick Scholl and his brother, 12-year-old Noah, both of Springdale, were “just having fun and working on their aim” with their father. Nick was firing a Glock 9mm handgun, taking turns with Noah, who was aiming at the target with his Sig Sauer .40-caliber pistol.

(Photo: Clay Payne) At Lokomotion in Fayetteville, grandfather Ron Burtraw of Siloam Springs along with brothers William and Michael Kircener of Metamora, Mich., launch a surprise attack on their other brother Paul.

Ron Burtraw of Siloam Springs brought his grandchildren — Michael, Paul and William Kirchener of Metamora, Mich. — to Lokomotion Family Fun Center in Fayetteville on Aug. 12 for a fun-filled day of spending time together that included four rounds of laser tag. Invented in 1984 by MIT graduate and inventor Lee Weinstein, laser tag is a team recreational activity where players attempt to score points by tagging targets, typically with a hand-held, infared-emitting targeting device. Infrared-sensitive targets are commonly worn by each player and are sometimes integrated within the arena in which the game is played.

Paintball, invented in 1981, is a sport in which players compete as teams or individually to eliminate opponents by hitting them with capsules containing food coloring and gelatin with a paintball gun. Don’t get me wrong; it can really hurt.

(Photo: Clay Payne) Nick, left, and Noah Scholl practice shooting targets under the supervision of their dad at Ozark Sportsman Supply in Tontitown.

On one of the seven paintball fields that Wild World Paintball in Tontitown boasts, 12 Bentonville middle school students traveled together Friday to shoot each other with paintballs and had a great time doing it. The players are given very specific instructions on what is and is not allowed before the basic elimination games that were played with a 10-foot surrender rule. If a player is shot once, they’re out. The players divide into two teams. When all the members of one team are shot, the game is over.

Matt Crenshaw, 13, shed light on why he loves paintball.

“Shooting people and using strategy and tactics like flanking,” he said.

When the middle school students were asked what their favorite video game was, they simultaneously yelled “‘Call of Duty.’”

(Photo: Clay Payne) Members of one team, comprised of Bentonville Middle School students, quickly decide their strategy while the tire used as cover is pelted with paintballs at Wild World Paintball in Tontitown.

Spending time with some avid video game players in Fayetteville, Andy Jones, 20, and Jeff Siegler, 22, showed that playing war video games such as “Call of Duty,” “Gears of War” and “Halo” (I know; I’m leaving so many out.) are less about violence and more about what Jones called “the social factor.” Jones said his favorite game is “Call of Duty: Black Ops” while Siegler prefers the “Halo” games. Both said they prefer “anything co-op.” A cooperative video game is a game in which two or more players (multiplayer) team up to achieve a specific goal, playing side-by-side via split-screen on one television or, more commonly, via the Internet.

“The best part is getting together with friends — having a competitive edge against people you know,” Jones said.

I first entered the world of “co-op” online war game play when I was in college with the game “SOCOM II: Navy SEALs” for PlayStation 2. My roommates and I had two televisions in the living room with two different systems so we could play at the same time. We also had headphones to talk to other teammates, who could be in Istanbul for all I knew. I could play all night without blinking. This was before “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” exploded onto the gamer radar.

The downside was after losing to someone who seemed like they were a trained Navy SEAL to play that well, you were trashed-talked to by a 10-year-old boy who still sounded like a girl because he had not hit puberty.

While “Spacewar!” for the PDP-1 (Programmed Data Processor-1) was the first war video game, invented in 1962, war-simulation video games have come quite a long way. Now with a modem and a video game console, gamers can play the same game simultaneously with their new best friend in Bolivia.

“I can honestly say that I’ve never played a war game by myself,” Siegler said.

Categories: Family Friendly
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