Well then where is there left to go? The WWn League achieved one of its most important goals in the last few years: actually getting events organized. Judging by what we keep hearing and what iSoaker keeps saying that we'll never appreciate what BBT has to go through to do what they do, the problem is much simpler and more fundamental than that.
Our needs are simply incompatible with the mass market's needs. There's a little overlap, and people have had some success bring in Python 2's to face CPS's (last weekend), but where does it go from there? Water blasters have become a commodity, throw-away product in today's world of rapid consumerism, and despite what some eBay entries may have suggested in the past, the market for performance blasters isn't there.
Well that's fair, and it's fair that we, the community, should be responsible for online outreach and not BBT, but we've got a long ways to go to do what we want to do. That said, it's becoming clear that those who have the interest do not have the resources, and those who have the resources do not have the interest to expand the outreach of water warfare. We are such a niche group now, so seemingly closed off from the rest of the world just doing what we do with old blasters, some with critical functionality held together only by epoxy and perhaps a little metal plating. Only a fundamental shift in the way things work will bring about any change for us, but this shift requires time and dedication. It requires true real-world, on the field experience, which is precisely what we're gathering. I don't know where else it goes from there. I don't have the resources myself to make that shift. Water warfare is a small piece of the pie compared to everything else I do, and I've accepted that no matter what I try, we're not going to get that shift we need.
Let's talk videos. I only managed to spit out one this year (MOAB), but perhaps I didn't post about it enough here, and I know I'm not satisfied with the way I planned and edited that video. With our backlog of archival footage growing larger and larger, it's time to do something about all that. My idea is that I want to throw together a web series, but I've gotten the idea that this is only something I can do by myself with the community's pile of footage. Perhaps it's a communication thing. Everyone's busy, and we're just focused on more wars and more footage to sit on, but we don't really have many ways to turn all of that into an active YouTube channel that will gather viewers.
What else can we do? Perhaps some of us (especially myself) have demonstrated a bit too much unspoken hubris and arrogance that comes with actively attending community wars. We're a small, well-knit group, and what happens out there is what matters here. There is a certain natural pride that comes with blazing past personal and other barriers that only the community wars have been able to deliver for me. Sports put me to sleep, so community wars is really my primary outlet here, but the lack of a large group with constant events is driving me to explore Nerf and paintball some more. These are the only games that can deliver the adrenaline rush I need to push myself to become better physically and mentally, nothing else works for me. Every single incremental improvement brings almost quantifiable satisfaction. Community wars are one of my only channels that really works to improve myself this way, and that is partially where the pride comes from; from knowing that we're a small, special group that does what very, very few people do around the world and have done throughout history.
Frozen Fury was my kind of boot camp. If you didn't move on your feet, you froze up. If your blaster didn't move, it froze up. CQB is fast, demanding, and relentless, demanding constant mental alertness, fast reaction times, and punishing of the slightest mistake. Despite the focus on CQB, we played on plenty of terrain too, which, being from MI, I'm horribly adapted to and was punished for accordingly last weekend. However, despite any lack of ability, I've always felt so alive at community wars, whether it be breathing in the night air at MOAB or Soakemore, or charging at a large, bunker-like cement structure.
So here's the message I'm getting from iSoaker, and from my past weekend experiences: Focus on what matters, instead on what BBT is doing. Make videos instead of just talking about stuff. Come to community wars if you can. If not, host as many games as you can, or practice by yourself no matter how socially awkward it may be. But for those of you who've never attended community wars, I ask that you make it a pilgrimage of sorts. We don't know how much longer we'll be around here, doing this sort of thing. After you cut through all the same old tired discussions, the time wasted posting about Hasbro's useless dollar store blasters, and the time asking BBT for that ergonomic Gorgon 2 or for more social media outreach, the only thing left is what we do: water warfare. Get your CPS, an XP, a WW, a homemade, whatever. Get it and go soak.
With all that negativity cleared aside, I'd say we've made real and meaningful progress on the 2013 season. Perhaps I'm too biased, because this is my first year of community warfare, but we've learning how to organize events better and how to get better games setup. My own ideas on setting up games are getting sharpened by real world experience, so that all that HBWW gametype setup stuff you see is not just some "only works in theory" garbage, but stuff that's applicable to the real world and to real water wars.
We have more footage this year for promos. We've further explored the use of WBL's in water warfare (the results being disappointing as usual, but at least we had something; congrats SEAL for getting the first known community war WBL kill!), and while we're not exactly expanding our small sphere of influence, we are improving what we do. The Facebook page gradually gets more and more content. What we really need is the photographic and visual stuff; the videos (and even that ambitious video game that still has zero meaningful progress) is what people see. You can sit and read a bunch of text, but seeing it in lively, real-time action means a lot more.
So while thinking of the future of the league, let's keep these things in mind. We can say we don't want to be too dependent on league warfare, but that's all that's really driving things now. The league warfare experience is the real draw of what we do, and I would argue is also one of the few truly meaningful things. I say this because locally, very very few groups have built up a high level of skill, gameplay variety, and other aspects of their water wars, and from that I have more respect for some of our community war leaders M4 and DX who have this battle experience.