You have to figure that in the eleven years between the time the paintgun was invented in 1970 and the first recorded game was played in 1981, there were probably other instances where people shot each other with those oil-based balls using Nelspots. It’s hard to imagine that in seven years of forestry work no one “accidentally” fired a shot at a coworker in the field. But like the first recorded basketball game 90 years earlier in 1891, the only one that really matters is the game that is documented.
The first known group game played barely resembles the last game played. Twelve men armed with Nelspot 007s, shop goggles, and each carrying a map and compass played the first game of what we now call paintball. It was an “every man for himself” game and the object was to collect as many flags as possible by the game’s end. The story is now legendary.
Gurnsey, Gaines, and Noel made a list of possible participants for this first game of paintball. They believed the list should be limited to those that were successful in their particular field as this would be the only real way to settle the “argument.” On the final list were stock brokers, writers, master hunters, surgeons, and others. There would be twelve players in all, each paying $175 to cover expenses. The game was to be played on a 100-plus acre tract of land and the object of the game was to collect as many flags as possible. Eliminating the opposition would be only a small part of the game, proven by the fact that the game’s winner never fired a shot.
The field was divided into four quadrants with three flags in each. The twelve players, each with their own unique strategies, crawled, ran, or sneaked around the property trying to eliminate players and/or capture the twelve flags. In the end it was Ritchie White who managed to grab all twelve flags, winning the first game of paintball ever played.
* Ken Barret surrendered to Jerome Gary, becoming the first player officially eliminated in the first multiplayer paintball game.
* Dr. Bob Carlson eliminated five of the twelve players in what Gurnsey called a “stealthy, wiley, and cunning” manner.
* After being “bounced,” Charles Gaines eliminated Lionel Atwell.
* Hayes Noel was eliminated by Bob Carlson.
* Ritchie White captured all necessary flags and won the game without firing a single shot.