Paintball is a game of people. Not just because you are, by the nature of the game, play against humans, but because it is built around relationships. From the time you first walk onto the field you have an opportunity to interact with people in a unique environment. You not only get to enjoy the location where you play, but you have a chance to interact with people apart from the typical environment where they live and work. It's a chance to get to know people on a different level and make a connection that is different from other work or social situations.
Winning is fun. Competitive paintball games are great. In fact, the best games that I have ever played in are the ones where the outcome was not decided until the very end of the game and there was great uncertainty as to who would win. The winning, though, is not the reason you play the game.
Apart from a very small number of people, you will not make a career playing paintball. Very few professionals can afford to only play paintball and most have an outside job (the highest publicized contract ever signed in paintball was for an amount lower than many first year attorneys earn). While the prizes are good and the competition is great, at the end of the day, even the professionals are not relying on this for their career. They are playing it for the love of the game and enjoyment it provides.
What, then brings the enjoyment? Paintball is not a market-driven commodity like the professional basketball or football where team managers try to sign the correct pieces to form a winning team. Instead, teams are formed based on friendships and connections. Players who enjoy each others company simply decide to form a team or someone recruits a friend to join an existing team. People are rarely (and if so, usually unsuccessfully) asked to join teams because they are good at the sport, but because they are good enough at the sport and a are a good fit for the team. When you go to a tournament you will spend most of the day hanging out with your team - you don't want a prima donna who helps you win games and then you can't stand being around the rest of the day.
More than the team relationships, though, is that what you will remember from paintball in the long run is the people you play with. You will never forget the person who introduced you to the sport of paintball and you will never forget the people who taught you the skills you have today. You will relish the days you spend on the field with great groups of friends and you will never forget the experiences you had as friends. Conversely, you will never forget the people who you know were wiping on the field, the players who turned their guns up and played hot on the field, the hyper-competitive jerks who acted like they owned the world and the cretins whose sole focus on the field was self-aggrandizement. As much fun as the good experiences are, the bad ones can be just as memorable - what they have in common is that they both come from the people that you are playing with.
I first played paintball almost twenty years ago. In that time I have played many games and had lots of fun experiences. What I remember most, though, are the people that I have had a chance to interact with. Paintball has given me the chance to create friendships with people that otherwise I never would have known. We've been able to share experiences and get to know one another in a way that quite simply could not have happened without the sport. Paintball is a fun, rewarding sport from the time spent on the field. What makes it a spectacular sport, though, is enjoying it with your friends.