Click photos to view full gallery in the LA Tech Paintball slideshow.
If you thought the most painful thing about Sunday morning was nursing a hangover, then you haven't woken up from four hours of sleep to battle it out in the rain with a bunch of Tech Paintball fanatics who may or may not have been Navy Seals. Yes, that's what LAWeekly.com dragged itself out of bed to do over the weekend, crashing the LA Tech Paintball war between Team Tequila and Team Black at Hollywood Sports Paintball in Bellflower.
Providing much needed respite from the nonstop conferences, mixers and galas that populate LA Tech month, LA Tech Paintball was organized by Lincoln Group founder Paige Craig and Black Card Circle Foundation founder Lotay Yang in order to vent frustration, fuel lighthearted rivalries (Mahalo firebrand Jason Calacanis was rumored to be making an appearance, unleashing an influx of sign ups to opposing team), and inspire some dirty social media related fun.
The standoffs, barbs and endless jokes about "balls" between the teams were traded on Facebook, Twitter and Lalawag.com months before anyone got anywhere near a gun (or in paintball speak, a "marker"). The team roster was a Tech Who's Who which included Lalawag power couple Laurie and Sean Percival, Rubicon Project's Nicole Jordan, and BarcampLA's Chris Darbro as well as Digg.com's Aubrey Sabala who flew in from San Francisco with Gerard Ramos and Chad Seeger of Avenue Labs specifically to attend the event. More than half of the over 35 participants showed up in their own camo, and we're not talking skirts and scrunchies here.
Speaking as a paintball n00b, watching the mandatory Hollywood Sports Paintball Rules! safety video does not prepare you for the challenges and stress of actual combat in the mud, especially if it's against people who have put in their 10,000 hours playing first person shooter video games. The aforementioned Ms. Sabala got so stressed she had to pop a Xanex and this reporter got shot in the face, twice. The video also doesn't mention the pain and welts that come afterward, popping up like bites from the world's most bloodthirsty mosquito and so ubiquitous they've inspired their own Web site.
Ranging from "Apocalyspe" to "Mad Max," the movie set inspired paintball fields played host to the ultimate team building exercise. And the competition was intense, with military level strategizing from both teams and cutthroat tactics culled everywhere from the boardroom to the gadgetspace (former Marine Paige Craig wore a "Paintball Cam" throughout the scrimmage). New media sweetheart Laurie Percival, who was shot over 10 times, modestly described her experience as "painful but fun."
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Having gone head-to-head in "last one standing" style combat with my fellow content providers I can tell you that getting constantly bombarded by projectiles is a traumatic experience -- giving new meaning to the battle cry "the Internet is serious business." Donning masks, jumpsuits and markers it's easy to feel like a badass until you're repeatedly taken down in the thick of it. LAWeekly.com's Erin Broadley got caught in the crossfire when one of Team Black's special forces ran close to her "neutral" photography-safe zone, unleashing a barrage of fire from Team Tequila, who were in it to win it (which we did -- FTW).
The welts nursed by many of the troops were not in vain however; proceeds from the $60 tickets were divided evenly between the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and the Black Card Circle Foundation. As my fellow defector Nicole Jordan put it (and, yes, I sat out the last part of the game like a wuss, preferring to munch the mango slices and granola provided by Scott Schroeder of Scottysnacks), the "good cause means I don't mind paying $60 to play for ten minutes and realize I don't like paintball." Leaving HSB exhausted but victorious, I'm psyched up for a possible San Francisco's rematch later in the year -- hopefully the participant list will lean more towards PHP programmers than military Special Ops.
*weltLOL inspired by Jeffrey Henderson