Mon, 25 Dec 2000

More young people call for 'war'

JAKARTA (JP): People have been calling for peace all over the world but for some youngsters war can be a perfect antidote for stress release. Wars in Jakarta? Don't panic -- this is not a real war.

It is all just a game, and instead of bullets paint is the only ammunition used, with victims becoming brightly colored after a direct hit. However, the bullet can be harmful if it strikes a target within five-meters range.

The excitement not only lies in the solidarity formed while reaching a shared goal, there may be an instinctive pleasure in injuring one another in such a whimsical way.

The game is organized by Brigade 3234 battle simulation arena in Gunung Putri and in Rancamaya housing complex in Ciawi, both in Bogor, and by Patriot arena at Alam Sutra housing complex in Serpong, Tangerang.

The game operators can also be found in four other places across Indonesia: in Bali, Surabaya and Malang in East Java, and Batam island.

When The Jakarta Post visited Brigade 3234 at Gunung Putri area recently, several groups of young people -- mostly university students -- lined up for their turn to play in the four fields available at the venue.

A group has 40 minutes to play two games, which last for 20 minutes each, and are divided by a 15-minute break.

Each group receives a short briefing from the supervisors of the battle. They may choose two of four games which include seizing a flag, occupying the enemy's castles while defending their own, escorting VIPs or the predator game. The operator also provides an indoor field to play close-quarter combat.

"I find the war game exciting. I have played another simulation in Rancamaya area and I like this game," said Lala, a student at the School of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Indonesia.

Lala came with another female companion and eight male friends. The group chooses to play the flag seizure simulation, and Lala was shot at close range near her throat by her boyfriend during the first match.

"Luckily I was allowed to return to the battlefield. I shot back repeatedly at my boyfriend out of revenge for his barrage. I managed to paint his head," she said proudly.

Participants who are shot in less than five minutes after the game starts are allowed to return to the battlefield. If any of them are painted after the first five minutes, he or she must leave the battlefield and can later participate in the second match.

Earlier, a group of 12 children with two adults also played on the battle ground.

"It's exciting. You have the chance to hurt your children," said Alastair Fenwick of Kenya with a laugh. Fenwick said that his son was celebrating his birthday at the Brigade.

Fenwick's American colleague, Bob Siebert said: "It's fun because it requires a lot of exercise and it is also a little bit scary."

Both parents and children had repeatedly visited the Brigade. "Last time, my wife and my daughter also joined the war game. The first time my daughter got shot, she cried. But after that she enjoyed it and wanted to play again," Siebert said.

The Brigade's Assistant Manager, Greg Norman, told the Post that the company offered special packages for students, besides party packages and an outbound service.

"From Tuesday to Friday, students get a 25 percent discount. They also get free soft drinks and unlimited time for games. We accommodate a maximum of 100 visitors every day."

The party package is designed for a group who wish to hold a special program. The package offers various facilities including a private area, a set menu, a sound system, an event organizer and artists.

"Companies can also ask for the outbound service where they can kick off management training with war games, spider web and wall climbing," he said.

The battle simulation was launched on Oct. 25, 1996, and occupied a 2.5-hectare area at Jl. Gunung Putri Utama II.

It has since gained popularity, especially among young executives who take the opportunity to escape their office routine and have some fun. Speaking on the economic turmoil which hit the country in 1997, Norman said that the operator was also affected by the crisis.

"The number of visitors has increased gradually since the economy began to bounce back. In November this year, about 1,000 people played in these grounds, most of them are young people. That's the highest figure this year," he said.

'Vietnam war'

On the four hectare venue operated by the Patriot battle simulation company, participants can play a Vietnam-like war game at its Jungle-Jungle, Hamburger Hill or Terminator fields.

Patriot also offers similar packages to those of Brigade.

Patriot's General Manager Dharmayanto Rawatan said his visitors are mostly middle and upper class, and aged between 25 and 40 years old.

"They don't only come from the housing complexes nearby but also from Jakarta," he said.

Dharmayanto said that the organization offered 30 percent discounts from Monday to Friday.

"At weekends, we give a 20 percent discount to a group of more than 30 people and 30 percent to groups of 50 people," he said, adding that there were less women who joined in the war games at Patriot.

The 40-minute wars at Brigade cost Rp 77,000/person and Rp 65,000/person at Patriot.

Patriot offers its customers military attire, .68mm caliber semi-automatic guns and 20 bullets. An additional 20 bullets can be purchased for Rp 15,000.

Brigade provides 30 bullets as a starter and participants must pay Rp 27,500 for an additional 50 bullets.

Patriot's success in the paintball game convinced PT Lintas Jeram Nusantara, the operator of Arus Liar rafting at the Citarik river in Sukabumi, to introduce the program at its site in 1999.

"We offer paintball games in our Citarik one-stop adventure program, where people can choose two out of four games: rafting, paintball, offroad and trekking. We call this a two-in-one program," said Amalia Yunita, the company's vice president.

"We wanted to make a site comprising adventure games. We already had the rafting program here, but we wanted something new. So we created the 2-in-1 program."

The paintball game costs Rp 76,000/person including military attire, guns and bullets.

"But when you choose the two-in-one program, you only have to pay Rp 135,000/person, which includes the sporting equipment, lunch, an insurance fee, a certificate and an instructor," she said, adding that most visitors at Citarik are young executives from Jakarta. (ivy)