1f. Physical Wargames

A paintball enthusiast in action
"Paintball is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. It now rivals golf in its appeal to the younger generation."

Splatter Zone Paintball Internet Magazine

If the technologies for laser tag and paintball had existed earlier in the century, these games may have grown to the popularity of football or baseball.  All sports seem to share things in common with war play, and it is not uncommon to hear suggestions that sports are a form of warfare subliminated.[1]  Wars and sporting events both feature teams or individual competitors attempting to use strategy and physical force to conquer territory and achieve objectives. Sporting teams defend the honor of their geographic territories in much the same way that armies defend their nations.  Recent concerns over "hooliganism" seem to underscore this connection.

Yet if football seems to resemble warfare, physical wargames like paintball and laser tag imitate war directly.  In the past, no affordable technology allowed people to shoot one another without suffering serious consequences.  With the advent of compressed-air pellet guns and infrared activated harnesses, this hurdle has been overcome.  The popularity of these games confirms the insight already demonstrated by first-person shooter computer games and other popular media: many people find simulated violence enjoyable.

The obvious difference between physical wargames and other wargames is the fact that physical wargames generally require and reward physical exertion--an element that is never required in other genres.  To some extent, this means that the strategic aspect of physical wargaming is often de-emphasized, though some tactical considerations clearly do exist. 

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1(back).  See, e.g., Omar Kureishi, "Oh! Calcutta", Dawn, March 1, 1999, at <http://www.dawn.com/daily/19990301/op.htm>.