To spread the word, Castillo organizes a game convention in Mission Valley twice a year; the next one will likely be in November. His displays and demonstrations range from bridge and Monopoly to RP games and miniatures.
Even Castillo, a Vietnam veteran, concedes that some games can be too much at times. Paintball, for example, was "a little too rough for my taste, and a little too close to real combat."
Paintball, developed about 10 years ago in New Hampshire, is a live-action war game conducted on a playing field.
It is primarily a team sport, where one team (ranging in numberfrom 5 to 500) tries to capture the flag of the other team and eliminate opposing players by shooting, or tagging, them with a paintball expelled from a special air-powered paint gun.
The paintball itself is a round, thin-skinned gelatin capsule filled with colored liquid (something like a large bath oil bead). The paint inside--available in different colors--is water soluble and nontoxic. When a paintball tags a player, the thin gelatin skin splits open and the liquid leaves a bright mark about the size of a 50-cent piece. A player who is marked is eliminated from the game.
Some consider it to be a dangerous sport, although there are safety precautions taken, such as mandatory goggles. And the staff at the playing fields (there's one in Temecula, and one in South Bay) are versed in first aid.
"There's no real danger," said Bill Kuhn, who is a 28 year-old "airsmith" for The Paintball Connection on Miramar Road. (Like a gunsmith, Kuhn repairs and makes paintball guns). "I've been playing for three years, and I've never seen a bad injury."
According to the International Paintball Players Assn., headquartered in Los Angeles, the sport is as safe as golf, jogging, tennis, swimming and many other activities. Nonetheless, all players must sign a waiver that acknowledges that they could conceivably die playing this sport. "But basically," Kuhn said, "it's just a cross between tag and hide 'n' seek." Then he concedes, "There is the war part of it."
Paintball participants, said Kuhn, are "a different group from gaming people."
The age range of participants is from 12 to 65, but most are 18 to 30. Men outnumber women 10 to 1, and a lot of them are military or former military members. "There's a real adrenaline rush," Kuhn said, "and a lot of camaraderie. The game is a great leveler. Who you are doesn't matter out there. We have McDonald's workers side by side with surgeons. There's instantaneous friendship on the field, and a lot of team work."
Another live-action pursuit, but one with an emphasis on history, is the Society for Creative Anachronism. The society was created about 20 years ago in the back yard of a Berkeley student. A bunch of history buffs set out to re-create the Renaissance period (roughly spanning the years 1066-1600). Over time, the society became international, and geopolitical regions were split into kingdoms, baronies and households.
San Diego County, for example, is the Barony of Calafia, and it is made up of various cantons. North County is the Canton of Summergate, and it is headed by Mistress Fia Naheed (Francena Sherburne).
The Camp Pendleton-Oceanside branch is called Stronghold the Dunnamaramianna, headed by Tadhg O'Murchadha the Wanderer (Ted Simmons).
On becoming a member of the society, one takes on a fictitious name and character and studies how someone in that time and place would have acted, dressed, and amused himself or herself.
The person determines the traits and attributes of his character (similar to Dungeons and Dragons, but without the dice) and assumes the persona of that character, pursuing his interests, and constructing appropriate costumes to clothe the character.
Participants aren't permitted to use actual characters, real or fictitious. They cannot, for instance, take on the persona of King Arthur or William Shakespeare.
Sherburne is a 41 year-old Escondido accountant during the week. But on weekends, she's a young, fancily dressed 12th-Century Welsh woman who spins, sews and weaves.
People who become Viking warriors, or knights errant, must do battle. There are jousts, tournaments and fights in full, authentic armor (which may cost up to $3,000 to make or buy).
The society has been criticized because of the potential for injury during battle, although safety precautions are taken. Fighters, who pad themselves and their weighty weapons, must abide by specific rules of safe combat. Marshals preside at tournaments, and nurses are always on duty.
On a less threatening note, society members join guilds to learn wine making or beer making, or to immerse themselves in medieval dance, costuming, metalwork, heraldic research, music, calligraphy-illumination or art.