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SPPLAT Plans Big Game With William Shatner

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Shatner Writes Scenario
By Bill Mills
Photos by Paintball 2 Xtremes assistant editor Josh Silverman
July 2002

For the past several months, the excitement over the Society of Paintball Players and Teams (SPPLAT) big scenario game has been building in a lead up to it’s August 31 event date.  Ever since the announcement that Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, William Shatner would be appearing and playing, many paintballers have been wondering how involved he would be. 

Some expected he would get escorted on and off the field, very briefly, and just wave and sign autographs the rest of the time.  This will not be the case.  Shatner intends not only to play an active role in the game, but to write the game’s scenario as well as produce a television documentary that follows the game’s story from beginning to end.  After a long day at a Star Trek fan convention in Chicago, Shatner took some time out for an interview with WARPIG.com to talk about how the game is developing, and how he got involved.

The idea started when SPPLAT founder JJ Brookshire got in touch with Shatner about producing some exhibition paintball games. "JJ is the son of a friend of mine, and he came to me and asked about doing a paintball competition at a charity horse show two or three years ago, but it never worked out.  Somewhere along the line JJ got the idea to do a large one.”

Brookshire had put together the plan for a big scenario game to raise money for charity.  After talking with Forest Brown of Challenge Park Xtreme, he was convinced that the site was not only large enough to handle the amount of people he wanted to attend, but also had the facilities and rental gear needed to deal with them, as well as the specialized fields that would make the scenario more exciting.  Shatner said that, “when the site was chosen and the number of people estimated, it intrigued me.  We could raise a large amount of money for children's charities.”

Shatner is an active outdoorsman, involved in sports including horseback riding and skydiving, but he had not yet tried his hand at paintball. "I had heard about paintball but never played it.  The whole idea of running around and having fun like kids playing cowboys and indians sounded fun to me."

A big break for Brookshire was getting the Paramount Corporation to grant permission for the Star Trek name, and character names to be used at the event.  Many of the people SPPLAT expects to attend will be Star Trek fans getting their first taste of paintball, and the Star Trek name is expected to help draw them in, as well as make the event documentary that much more entertaining.  After learning more about paintball scenario games, Shatner has decided to tackle the task of writing the game’s scenario himself. 

"With the teams that we've got - the Federation, the Klingons and the Borg a lot of fun can be had," says Shatner.  During the Game, Shatner will be captain of the Federation team, with MXSportz’ Patrick “PacMan” McKinnon and Viper Scenario’s Kerry “Viper” Rosenberry right by his side bringing their scenario game experience to the table as executive officers.  The Borg will be led by Airgun Designs president Tom Kaye, with the assistance of Worr Games Products founder Bud Orr.  Chicago radio personality “Mancow” will lead the Klingon team.  Mancow is quite the sci-fi fanatic, and his personal movie memorabilia collection includes the first ever design sketch of the USS Enterprise, and the robot “Twiggi” from the Buck Rodgers television series.

The game is expected to draw a substantial amount of press.  Mancow has put out the word, and other radio personalities including CNN’s Larry King are planning to attend – with a camera crew.  Chicago cable superstation WGN is planning to produce live remote broadcasts from the site. 

Shatner is bringing a crew to produce a television show that follows the story of the game, like a documentary of an actual battle.  “We'll be Producing a documentary with 10 combat photographers,” he says, “and it's possible that people who bring cameras, we will give them tapes and use what they shoot in the show as well.”

Shatner is working paintball safety into the story line in a way that will make the television show more interesting.  When faced with how to add the drama of command, while dealing with the safety issue of protecting player’s eyes and faces, he came up with an interesting solution.  The scenario will take place in a “hostile environment” where none of the three teams are able to breathe unassisted.  Therefor they must wear their personal breathing apparatus (paintball mask) at all times on the field.  Players in the role of combat engineers will be assigned missions that include securing an area, then erecting a netted tent command bunker.  Players in leadership roles can then enter the tent, close the “airlock” door, and remove masks while they look over field maps and plan strategy under the watchful electronic eye of the camera crews.

Brookshire and Shatner are hoping to break all previous records for paintball game attendance, as well as to make the largest charity donation to ever come from the sport of paintball.  The game will be raising money for the Ahead With Horses foundation, a group that uses horse handling and riding as both physical and emotional therapy for the disabled.  The two are hoping for not only a successful 2002 event, but that it will pick up momentum as an annual game getting larger each year.  They are trying to build the game in a way that will be exciting to different styles of paintball players as well as those who have never played before.  “We're calling all the paintball enthusiasts and telling them that if there ever was an event to compete in, we have an event for them,” Shatner says.  “We will include both scenario and tournament player.  The tournament players can become our ‘shock’ troops.  The people that don't want to play the whole time can take breaks and do communications work that still affects the game.”

According to Shatner, the science fiction fans at the Star Trek convention were excited when he announced the game and introduced Borg general Tom Kaye.  “They were screaming and yelling about how fun it would be.  When I said we would have a squad of red shirts who are going to die they all started laughing," he said. "There was a huge rush today.  A lot of people signed up at convention, but the main numbers will come from paintball people.  We are after 3,000 people.”

More information about the SPPLAT big scenario game can be found at SPPLAT.com


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