The Most Popular Paintball Game Types Worldwide

The Most Popular Paintball Game Types Worldwide

Paintball is a sport enjoyed by millions of people around the world, and there are many different game types to choose from. Whether you’re a seasoned player or just starting out, there’s a paintball game for everyone. In this article, we’ll be exploring the most popular paintball game types worldwide.

From fast-paced, action-packed games to tactical, strategy-based games, we’ll take a closer look at what makes each one unique. So, what are the most popular paintball game types? Read on to find out!

Paintball is a colors game that was officially recognized in America around the 1980s. In paintball, participants eliminate opponents by marking them using compressed gas-powered guns (markers). The guns fire paint pellets that explode once they hit their target thereby ”marking’’ them as eliminated.

Paintball is neither an indoor nor an outdoor sport as you can set it up in an enclosed area, an open field or even on artificial terrain depending on the game type. Data gathered from around the world named paintball as one of the safest energy-intensive sports in the world with the injury rate standing at only 0.31 for every 1000 players out there.

Over the years, the sport has evolved and developed at both recreational and competitive levels to accommodate planned competitions with professional teams .

Due to its success in imitating actual shoot-out scenarios, the paintball technology also caught the eye of players from other areas of life like military forces; defense and law enforcement organizations have accepted and are employing it in their training programs.

What Are The Most Popular Paintball Games In The World?

What Are The Most Popular Paintball Games In The World

The world’s most popular paint ball games include deathmatch, resurrection, capture the flag, and bomb squad.

As for the most popular actual game scenario, we’d say the Oklahoma D-Day that’s held every June in Oklahoma. The game was first organized in 1997 and brought together 135 players in the first year and over 335 in the following year.

The organizer- Dewayne Convirs, sought to relive events from World War II and maybe keep the memories fresh.

What Is The Objective When In A Paintball Game?

What Is The Objective When In A Paintball Game

The objective when playing a paintball game is to eliminate as many players from the opposing teams as possible. To do this, you must shoot them with the paintballs. Whichever side eliminates the most opponents wins the game.

In a competitive tournament, however, the game rules are usually a little different. To win, you must plant the flag in the middle of the field and make it to the opposite side to win.

Before the commencement of any game, all the teams reside in their assigned bases and wait for a go-ahead signal which comes in the form of a ”Game On” shout-out by any of the team leaders.

Paint Ball Games- History

Paint Ball Games- History

Looking at it from a historian’s point of view, paintball is as young as most modern sports- the game dates back to 1960. The Nelson Paint Company manufactured the first-ever paintballs by loading paint into gelatin shells which were then fired from carbon dioxide pistols.

The initial paintball designs were not as effective as the ones we have today but they played their role at the time.

The first set of rules was developed by one; Bob Gurnsey around the 1970s and in 1981, the first-ever paintball game happened in New Hampshire.

To earn a slot, the players had to buy a Nel-spot 007 which was then tested to ascertain its safety to both the user and their opponents.

This first game was one of a kind; it was staged on an 80 acres sports arena with 4 flag positions and 12 flags at each. To win, you had to secure each of the flags without going down. The prize for this tournament went to Ritchie White.

After creating the rules of the game and watching the first tournament unfold to such a success, Bob Gurnsey got more ambitious; by 1982, he’d set up the world’s first commercial paintball arena. To popularize the games, he came up with the National Survival Game which later grew to become the face of paintball games in America.

To keep the game going, Bob Gurnsey partnered with the Nelson paint company in 1982. This partnership proved to be quite profitable for both sides as Bob could now go big on his paintball dreams while the Nelson company signed a sole distributor agreement.

With everything set, the National Survival Game brand organized its first-ever organized competition in 1983. This was the first sight of pump handles, magazines, and barrels in a paintball tournament.

By this time the game had become so popular in America that the Nelson Paint Company had to develop recreational paintballs which were filled with water-based paints in place of oil-based paints which were significantly harder to wash off.

A year later in 1984, the NSG rebranded to Paintball and started marketing major tournaments in England and Australia.

Things got even better for paintball game organizers after the first speedball arena opened its doors in 1989. The California-based sports arena consisted of among other things, a modern and state-of-the-art paintball park. The park set the pace for all standardized paintball fields in America at the time.

In the 1995 world cup, ESPN featured the paintball sport and in turn showcased it to the world- it didn’t take long for the globe to take notice.

Over the years, paintball games have witnessed massive improvements in the game rules and the sport itself. In 2001 for example, barrel covers were introduced and accepted as the standard barrel device-blocking objects after the ban on the repetitive use of barrel plugs by the NPPL.

2002 was a rather humorous one owing to the many dramatic events witnessed during tournaments. The most memorable one being the sniper incident where a player attempted to eliminate opposing team members from a hiding place outside the field boundary. The fact that he was not playing in that particular tournament made his actions revolting.

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Well, with that said, the paintball sport continued to gain popularity and for the next 10 years, there was massive patenting work and gear development to make the game more organized and appealing.

Paintball Games-Today

Paintball Games-Today

Owing to its safety ratings and captivating concept, paintball has become so much bigger and lovable. The guns or paintball markers for example have evolved from the initial brick design to more sophisticated models that can shoot faster and longer.

Today, paintball is a vast industry boasting over a dozen million participants- this makes it the third most practiced extreme sport after skateboarding.

Professional-level opportunities in paintball are endless if you put in the work- paintball is a competitive sport that calls for advanced body fitness and agility.

How Popular Is Paintball?

How Popular Is Paintball

At the world stage, paintball takes the 3rd position among the most accepted extreme sports in the world- it boasts over 10 million followers spread over 40 or more countries. In only 15 years, paintball has evolved and placed itself as the most fascinating outdoor participation sport.

Paintball items top the list of most searched sports-related products. The annual spending for paintball equipment and paraphernalia stands at a whopping $220 Million.

Paintball players from different walks of life; students, professionals, and former players are all drawn together by the love for teamwork and healthy competition.

How To Play Paintball Games

How To Play Paintball Games

With the increased awareness of the paintball sport, a national professional paintball league has been launched and professional tournaments are coming up. Paintball might not be as popular as other international sports like soccer but, we can say the future for paintball sports is bright.

The main definitive aspect of paintball is the type of equipment used- not many traditional sports feature markers and other projectiles.

In this section, we’ll discuss how the game is played and the equipment used in paintball games.

The Paint Ball

The paintball sits at the center of the whole paintball concept. You can liken it to a tennis ball- the game is non-existent without it. The only difference might be the number of balls used in each tournament.

As the name suggests, paintballs are small balls with paint in them.

The ball’s construction is the most fascinating part, it’s the simplest and most basic thing you’ll see. A paintball is nothing more than a lump of water-based color compressed and encased in a gelatin capsule- some look like gel-cap pills.

They use water-based and non-toxic paints to make it easier to wash off when you get hit.

Paintballs weigh a few grams and are only 1.7 cm in diameter. The ball will stay intact when subjected to mild impact but when shot from a paintball marker, the impact is strong enough to cause it to burst open and spread the paint up to 13 cm.

The role of the paintball gun or what your local equipment store attendant calls the marker is to propel the paintball at a high speed. In conventional paintball guns, the propellant is usually compressed gas- it can be any type of gas; nitrogen, carbon dioxide, or just air.

The air is stored in compressed form in cartridges or in a compressed air tank from where it is channeled to the gun’s launching chamber. The paintballs are stored in a hopper, which too feeds them into the gun.

The different paintball marker manufacturers in the market are coming up with different shapes for guns and advanced firing systems but all these new and traditional designs work the same way.

It starts with the cocking of the gun to allow the paintball to get into the barrel from the hopper. With a pull of the trigger, compressed air from the cartridge rushes into the barrel and hits the paintball from behind.

The compressed air then pushes the paintball out through the barrel at a force greater than normal causing it to shoot forward through the atmosphere.

To promote safety, participants in sanctioned tournaments must adjust their guns to reduce the paintball’s propulsion speed to just under 91m per second. This speed is considered safe- even when aimed at the skin a paintball traveling at 91 m per second is less likely to cause significant injury although you should expect a sting.

Also, as the ball travels, wind resistance slows it down and reduces its impact when fired from a distance.

The only body parts you should be worried about are the eyes and ears- the effect on the skin might be nothing but paint in your eyes can be dangerous. To stay safe, always wear protective masks and ear protection when in the field and if that’s too bulky, you can wear safety goggles.

With the projectile speed intentionally reduced, the range of fire as expected goes down as well. A paintball cannot travel longer like other lethal projectiles. This makes the whole idea of shooting paintballs more of a science and less of an art.

You see, to shoot and hit a long-distance target, you must aim the barrel a little upwards so the ball first goes up and then curves down to land on your target- like they do for long-distance shots in football.

The Gun

The Gun

We’ve seen that paintballs rely on compressed air for propulsion and the series of events that result in the propulsion all happen inside the paintball gun. In this section, we’ll discuss the pump action gun and what goes on inside.

The first act before shooting a paintball marker is cocking. By cocking we mean pulling the cocking bolt backward which in turn opens up the barrel for the incoming paintball- the pellets are gravity fed into the barrel. Once loaded, you just need to release the bolt and let the spring pull it back to its original position.

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After loading, all that’s left is to pull the trigger to allow high-pressure air to run through the barrel and push the paintball out in the process.

To shoot again, you’ll have to cock the gun again but that’s if you are using the traditional model paintball guns.

Modern paintball guns come with a special auto-cocking mechanism that directs air to the front of the barrel after firing. This air pushes the cocking bolt backward (just like you’d do it manually) or in other words, cocks the gun for you.

Automatic paintball guns have become very popular among players and manufacturers looking to improve sales. The most advanced options come with electric motors in place of the air-powered auto-cock system. The motors are more effective and can keep the gun firing as long as the trigger is pulled back.

Playing The Game

Playing The Game

Paintball is mostly played as a team sport where a team goes against another to try and capture its flag or eliminate its members.

Before the organization and structuring of paintball matches, air guns had already existed for over a decade. The first ever paintball guns were built for forest and agriculture work- for remotely marking trees and livestock from a distance.

It just happened one time that a group of foresters or maybe farmers decided to use the paintballs on their colleagues who then fired back and there on this casual game is what we now call paintball.

The game was still at the inception stage until 1981 when an actual capture the flag scenario was staged and this charted the path for modern paintball tournaments- the players were divided into two groups and each team was to attempt to capture their opponent’s flag while protecting their own.

When a player gets hit by a paintball from an opposing player, they are considered dead or out and must exit the playing field. Physical contact especially among opposing players is prohibited- you can only shoot them.

To promote the integrity of the games, paintball leagues have referees in playing field who ensure that all the marked players exit the field and declares the rightful winners.

A normal paintball game can last anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour depending on the time rules and maybe the paintball leagues running it. The number of participants also varies from a dozen on one team to as many as hundreds.

One of the least talked about aspects of the paintball game is safety. When the ball lands on your skin, there’s usually nothing more than a slight itch but when the same lands on your face, it could result in permanent damage to your eyes or ears.

The idea of eye and ear protection was still non-existent in the 1980s and most players walked into the playing field ”naked”. Over the years, however, especially with the introduction of children to paintball fields, it became apparent that protective gear was necessary.

Today, every player in a regulated paintball tournament must wear a paintball mask when playing to shield their eyes, ears, mouth, and forehead from physical and chemical damage.

What Are The Most Popular Paintball Game Modes In The World?

What Are The Most Popular Paintball Game Modes In The World

The list of paintball game types in the world is endless, especially now that players are coming up with their own game scenarios which we must say are far more exciting compared to the conventional capture the flag games.

If you’ve been to a paintball shooting field, you know about that list of possible game types and scenarios they offer you when you walk in. What many players don’t know is that you can ditch the house’s list and create your own scenario play from a show you watched on TV or an event you witnessed.

The freedom to customize your experience must be the best part of this sport; it’s the perfect way to stir up your imagination and besides, not everyone enjoys the same old game every time.

In this section, we’ll look at some of the most popular paintball game types in the world and offer a few tips to keep you ahead of other shooters.

Death Match

Just as the name suggests, the goal of the game is to take out as many players from the other team as possible. It is the most basic of paintball games thus making it the most popular- it’s the first game the field instructor suggests to first-timers.

Also known as team deathmatch, the game starts with the two teams stationed at opposite ends of the field from where they work their way in. Each team must get through without having all its members eliminated- the team with the last man standing wins the round or game.

Pro Tip; since the goal in a team deathmatch game is to wipe you out, the best you can do for yourself is to lay low and strike only when sure. Avoid overexposing yourself to the other team or you’ll have to watch the game unfold from outside the line.

The Resurrection

This mode employs the same concept as the death match with one advantage though; when you get marked, it’s not the end, you can always return to the field after a few minutes. All you have to do is get to the respawn point and resurrect yourself.

There are different variations of resurrection matches with some allowing a free for all game where there are no determined teams and everyone works for themselves or with the alliances they forge along the way.

If you prefer chaotic paintball scenarios, this is the game for you, it can only be played on a large playing area though because of the many players and hundreds of paintballs flying around.

Pro Tip: After you’ve resurrected and hit the field once again, you must take cover immediately as the existing players do not care that you’ve just walked- they will shoot before you can even gain ground.

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Capture The Flag

Capture The Flag

The capture-the-flag scenario paintball is a little more tactical and calls for planning if you are to win. To play, capture the flag, the players are divided into two teams and each side gets a base and a flag. The objective is to capture the other team’s flag whilst protecting yours.

This concept presents the elements of attack and defense all in one package- not many participants can handle this level of pressure. You see, as a leader, you must assign enough players to the attack fraction and still have a few left to protect your flag.

Pro Tip: Assign the roles correctly and early enough so everyone knows where they serve. You can’t have the guard team rushing after the other team’s flag or the strike retreating to protect the flag- confusion is the fastest route to losing a capture-the-flag paintball game.

The Centre Flag

This game is in some way similar to the one we just discussed, only that here, you’ll be shooting each other over one flag. It is plated in the middle and you have to get it from there to your base or the opposing team’s base.

The center flag game is usually more heated than some of the others because all the teams competing on that field will be fighting to get that one flag and once they do, they must get it home or to the opposing team’s base without being marked or losing it to an opponent.

Pro Tip: Plan a safe route to the flag’s position from your station and shield the flag carrier as much as possible- getting the flag in hand is the easiest part. You only need one or two people to move the flag, the rest can hold the enemy down.

The Bomb Squad

This scenario paintball game is simple; your team gets a set of packages (bombs) that you must plant at different locations around the field. Your opponents on the other hand are tasked with finding these packages before the set time runs out.

It is your team’s job to protect these planted packages from detonation by the opposing team by staging a sought of defense wall around that section. You don’t have to secure all of them though, having one still on by timeout is still an achievement.

The second model of bomb squad is where the two teams get packages and must plant them in their enemy’s territory without getting marked or having the planted bombs discovered. This means that each team must send out members to their opponent’s side and also defend their own.

Like in the other style, your time is limited.

Pro Tip: Even as you strive to plant as many packages as possible, you must have a team in place to defend them when the other team starts detonating them. With limited time, you should expect some tension in the arena.

Protect The Leader

Here, the participants are divided into two groups; an attack team and a defense team. The defense team will have to select amongst themselves a leader/president that they will protect from the attacking team.

The protective team must get their leader across the paintball field unharmed to win while for the attacking team, all they need to do is eliminate the protected leader.

To win the team must devise tactical edges over other opponents by using decoys, assigned guards, and things like that. In this game, only the smart teams win.

Pro Tip: Securing a leader is all about planning your route across the paintball field correctly; have your people check out the natural terrain for possible attack positions and prepare in advance.


This concept is the most fascinating of all, there are no alliances; it’s everyone for themselves. At the start of each match, all the participants’ names are placed in a holder and removed one after the other. The players then take a random name and target them.

Once you’ve marked your target, you can now take their card and target their guy. The player who captures the most names by the end of it all wins.

Pro Tip: You’ll be going up against everyone so you must be tactical and most of all quiet- do not announce yourself. If you can, try to get your opponents through long-distance shots to reduce your exposure.

Offense And Defense

Finally, we have the offense and defense, or what you might want to call attack and defend. In this game scenario, the teams are divided into two; the first team defends and the second attacks. The defenders will be assigned a position or base which they must defend from the attackers.

The offense team will most of the time outnumber the defense team and might even have a respawn advantage. There’s a catch though, the game is timed and the defenders only need to hold the base for a preset period.

If the enemy team captures the base and raise the flag, they’ll have won and the game will be over.

Pro Tip: Offense and defense are two very different roles and to prevail, you must understand your role perfectly to avoid surprises in the middle of the game. The best approach is to select the best team and assign them positions around the defense line based on their strengths.

How To Formulate Your Team’s Strategy In A Paintball Tournament

How To Formulate Your Team’s Strategy In A Paintball Tournament

The question of whether you’ll win or lose in a paintball match will depend on among other things, how you approach the task and how you divide roles among your team members.

Winning a paintball match takes more than just walking into the arena and marking everyone you see, there needs to be a plan so you know the field and can anticipate your opponent’s moves.

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As we’ve seen, each paintball match is different and so should your thoughts about it- focus less on firing the paintballs and more on winning.

With that said, however, remember to have a fantastic time- it’s why you are there.

Tips For Selecting The Best Paintball Team

Tips For Selecting The Best Paintball Team

One of the most challenging tasks for team leaders in paintball matches is selecting the best players for the various roles in their strategy or for the various teams. There are numerous ways to go about it, you can choose to divide the participants based on gender, age, or simply family or friendship ties.

The above methods are good but sometimes we need to mix the players up a bit to tap into each person’s abilities.

Below is a list of tips you can employ when selecting the best teammates.

Be Fair And Polite

This is one of the best approaches to this issue when you can’t afford to hurt anybody’s feelings; it keeps things fair and does not sideline any members.

For the best results, select the team members privately and then read their names out in a certain order and everyone goes where their name lands them- you can use the alphabetical order system when reading the names out.

You Can Put Players Who Work Together In The Same Teams.

For any team to emerge victorious the members must learn to work together or at least be in a position to do so. If your teammates take time to attack one another then you can kiss victory goodbye because a well-organized opponent will rain hell on you.

The best approach here we’d say is choosing your team among friends this way they’ll not only fight together but also watch each other’s backs. Another style is getting people you know who have worked together before and did well.

A team with like-minded people is more likely to win and besides, the game is only fun when we play alongside our friends.

Player’s Level Of Skill

Even as we insist on friends working together, we cannot fail to mention that the team with the best players wins. As a team leader, you must ensure that your team is balanced in terms of skill level and ability.

If you do not, you risk having the highly skilled players working against you, and trust us, you can’t win.

Spotting talent among new people can be hard so we’ll advise you to go for the most athletic-looking persons on the field. They might not be the best shooters but their agile and strong bodies will improve your odds.

Focus On Individual Skills

Focus On Individual Skills

We’ve seen that selecting team members based on their level of skill serves a team right but what if you want to take it a step further and focus on the individual skills and what they add to the team?

Here are some skills you might want to have on your team;


Every team needs a head, someone to organize the players and assign them roles. A leader should be charismatic and relatively firm in terms of direction.

Communications Manager

This is the person who relays messages among team members especially when things get hot and commands are frying all over the place.

Most teams do not see the value of this player to the overall goal but remember, tactics and strategies can change pretty fast and you need an audible and commanding voice to pass messages around.


These are very fast runners that can snatch the opponents’ flag and run with it across the field without getting marked. We don’t need to explain how much your team needs such a player. If you spot a fast runner among the to-be-selected players, save them for your team and watch them bring victory to your corner.


Paintball is a shooting game so a few players with excellent aim will do your team a lot of good. As other players steal and run with the flag, your sharpshooters can cover them and ensure minimal casualties.

This one is hard because you can’t ask everyone how good their aim is but there are other ways to spot ‘’real’’ shooters. For instance, if a player participates in other shooting-related sports like hunting and arrow shooting, they’ll probably be good paintball shooters as well.

To increase your chances of winning, get as many of these guys on your side as you can.

Don’t Underrate Any Player

Sometimes when the pool of players is large, some leaders sideline young and weak-looking players because they fail to see the value in them.

Well, generally a player must show something to prove their worth but not every time; a player may be young or not very well built but be a very sharp shooter, a very fast runner, or a master planner and strategist.

Point is, everyone has something to offer, they just need an opportunity.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Paintball games have been with us for decades now and with every tournament held, their popularity among sports enthusiasts only sours. The most popular paintball game options are the team deathmatch or death squad, capture the flag, and resurrection among others.

Over the years, the sport has evolved in terms of equipment and game strategies so much that sports companies are now investing in paintball sports promotions as they try to attract the ever-growing fan base.

40 countries around the world have accepted paintball games and are actively marketing the sport with some international media houses chipping in.

The article above describes in detail, how the game came to be, how it is played, and the equipment used plus a few tips for when you get to the arena.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

A bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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