Good Spaces
Good Food - Good Times - Good Spaces
Pocket Field Action Tag:  The Details on How to Grow the Pleasant Crop of 'Friendship Stimulation'!
The Pocket Field Concept is built around the goal of providing a ‘group’, in which players have a significant connection to each other, with an activity where everyone can easily participate in a simple, exciting, comfortable, flowing activity that fits the desired excitement, involvement, and stress level of each player. The goal also involves controlling the motivation level and general attitude of the group so players are highly involved but also appreciative of the sensitivities of other players. Cheating and brutality minimization tactics are utilized and vital! The goal is to send the group away, more integrated and as better friends than they were before they arrived. Business flow-through volume and profit on investment is not the motivator even if stable profitability is a result of the ‘non-business’ focus.
A large part of the formula is to provide the activity setting or field on which the group functions so as to allow efficient and enjoyable play without frustrating hold-ups or technical glitches. A second vital aspect is to inject an optimal leadership input such that an example is set that motivates group members to attempt to get along with each other while under an intentional pressure to be active and aggressive. ‘Excited Civility’ is the goal. The operator learns by doing and repetition of the event process lets the operator become quite skilled at being a master event facilitator!
These goals are achieved through field design, organized signup and outfitting, game education, game menu quality, equipment efficiency and reliability, service and instruction during the session, and efficient checkout and payment.

A highly personal connection between clients and staff allow staff to foster an attitude of excitement and cooperation that circulates in the group. This capacity is enhanced due to several Pocket Field features.

- (One Group Focus) - one distinct group (defined by the group’s own choosing), and one group only without any additional outsiders, is dealt with at one time. No one else is in sight. This is a vital success feature.
- (One Central Safe Zone) - the field has one central Safe Zone around which everything revolves.
- (The Thermal Marvel) - thermal masks, which minimize fogging but require specialized cleaning care are vital as is an efficient, central, staff run mask cleaning service. This feature is huge in that it largely solves the frustration of mask fogging, a major detriment to enjoyable play as well as making the use of pricy and delicate thermal masks economically practical. A second, perhaps a more important advantage, is it creates a constant positive connection between players and field staff and allows staff to steadily inject a positive attitude into the group. People who are constantly recognized in a respectful manner and treated well tend to treat others well!  The virus spreads. Meaningful client/staff contact, compliments of those wonderful thermal masks, allows this dynamic to happen. When the client arrives at the service kiosk, they are partially blind – when they leave, they have been given their sight back! All in moments with some kind words and a smile added on!
- (Bookings Only) - groups need to book ahead and provide some sort of economic promise that they will arrive. Staff only go into action when needed and can then prepare for a certain size and type of group with real economic efficiency. As a bonus, the general personality of planned groups is more positive than with a collections of unconnected loners. The planned group is easier to work with and more responsive to good service. When they leave they take the joint impact of the event with them and the after effects circulate for the next couple of weeks in their social bubble!

You ask US to be ready to look after you.  We will do the job!  And YOU commit to BEING THERE! (And the vast majority of groups DO!) - with a tiny bit of economic pressure as a reminder!
- (Sliding Price List) - prices are based on a public pricing schedule that automatically gives better pricing to larger groups, so minimal $ inflow is assured while clients are encouraged to do a good organizing job, if unit price is an issue for their group. Pricing rules are upfront and once groups are onsite, they know what price is in effect and accept personal responsibility.
- (One Group Focus) - management focuses on the one group concept, specializes in giving each group an optimal session, and doesn’t waste effort on attracting and structuring for individual players. The Pocket Field specializes to good effect.
- (Story Time Safe Zone) - a single central Safe Zone enhances play efficiency and client service and the business benefits from this focus due to groups coming to recognize that the Pocket Field is THE place to go for a top quality outing. The well appointed, single Safe Zone is critical to the success of the event in that a large part of an outing impact occurs in that location. Between games, even the most quiet personality will have adrenaline fired stories to tell, and the Safe Zone is where a great deal of animated debriefing occurs. Half the memories are instilled during the multiple group huddles in the Safe Zone that take place between individual games during a session.
- (Instruction Without Lecture Agony) - the Safe Zone is set up for instruction of the group. Initial safety and game instruction and then explanation for each new game is assisted by a well appointed Safe Zone and optimized by personable staff who deliver the vital messages efficiently without boring clients with ego inspired personal tap dance routines.
- (Game Systems and Public Address) - a major feature of the Pocket Field is a wired field with well designed game systems that are connected to a central Kiosk located at the Safe Zone. The game systems are ultra reliable and battle hardened such that they require negligible care and can be turned on and off from the Kiosk and only used when needed. A PA system that covers the whole field, in conjunction with the feedback from the game systems allows a single staff member to keep in touch with the players while also attending to mask cleaning and any other kiosk demands that are needed to look after the members of the group. One staffer can give 16 players a top quality outing.

- (Minimal Staffing) - referees are not used and this is a huge plus. Refs tend to do more harm than good when injecting their influence into a gathering of friends. Thus there is a staff and a cost saving as well as the added ‘absence’ feature that is positive with regard to repeat business! Group events between friends are not mindless competitions! Peer pressure works. Such groups do not need irritating little nickel plated dictators to boss them around!

- (Constant Action) - good games with ‘content’ are vital and are enhanced by the wired field. Rather than the conventional ‘hit and you sit’ approach of so many action tag fields, a ‘deflected momentum’ policy allows efficient and fair reactivation and lets clients ‘play’.

- (A Focus on Renters) - the Pocket Field caters to renters, not to equipment owners. Most players in the groups that come to a Pocket Field come once or twice a year or less, but small groups vastly outnumber hardcore players. When most players rent, the playing field is level and the group has a good time because of it. It is vital that markers and masks are top quality and reliable and this is not difficult or expensive to achieve. Ammo is included in the basic charge and extra ammo, if needed, is cheap. This avoids the motivation to smuggle in outside ammo and makes for good relations between clients and management. Hardcore players want their own gear but group oriented clients are who you want to deal with, not individual loners. A rental client operates economically because they don’t spend a fortune on gear which usually ends up in a closet long before it is worn out. The rental client doesn’t mind dropping funds for an occasional outing but the hardcore player has put his funds into his gear and takes a dim view of field charges. The pocket field gives a small discount if players have their own gear but it is only done as a minimal gesture. Really, the effect on group unity is better when as few outside markers as possible are present. Rental players are much more oriented to paying their way, are easier to please, and are better at getting along with others.  They are the market that allows the Pocket Field concept to thrive.

- (Heated Ammo Capacity) - capacity to provide heated ammo is vital to all-weather adaptability. Paintballs break in guns if the paint is cold. A Central Safe Zone and one group focus allows efficient distribution of heated paintballs.
- (The Plan can be Modular) - a major plus of the Pocket Field Concept is that the core elements can be housed in a seacan and business can be started on a very small scale. Merrill Dunes can give a group of 4 players a good time for two hours and a group of 8 or 10 is very viable dollar wise for clients and field. Single group focus and a field system that can be opened and closed quickly make the Pocket Field a tiny entertainment and business model powerhouse. Starting and building with the intention of selling after a few years is very practical and influences your field design. If things go well and the owner wants to keep going, the Merrill Dunes experience illustrates how one can let the machine grow!

- (Experience Revealed Simplicity) - Merrill Dunes has operated for over 20 years and the concept of the Pocket Field gradually evolved from experience. This concept was not the original intent. The original intent was simply a father/sons lark. But over time, it became clear why our unconventional approach has worked and now, with the covid response chaos, its advantages stand out even more. There were certain things that we did right and the cream has risen to the top! No need to repeat the many ‘loser’ ideas.

- (Night Lights and Thermals) - night lighting with LED lights is cheap and effective. Field lighting not only extends daylight hours but provides the novelty of night events. Night lights and thermal masks are a powerful duo that allow a field to operate at any time and even in quite cold and wet weather. The Pocket Field sleeps when nothing is happening and rocks at any time client groups request service.

- (One Field – Any Marker) - with a bit of design consideration, the same unique field with its novel, built-in game systems can be used for paintball, airsoft, or laser tag. As other marker systems are developed, the options may grow. Gel balls show promise and laser technology has moved ahead steadily. At Merrill Dunes, we have worked with regular paintball, soft hit paintball, 50 calibre rubber reballs, 50 calibre paintball manual pump guns, nerf guns, rival guns, several generations of laser guns, and airsoft. We will test gel guns shortly. We have learned many game tactics through indoor and mobile projects. And the need to adapt to the different characteristics of the various marker types has triggered many innovative ideas.

- (Farm Boy Core) - as a small farm revenue producer it is worth noting that a major factor in the success of Merrill Dunes has been the farm boy skills (some farm girl skills as well) and farm workshop that have backed the project. The technology is very low tech but the farm shop and WORK has been vital to the multiple gadgets and construction projects that make the Dunes what it is. The real ‘producer innovations’ have been quite simple while the more complex projects have tended to be flops. And this pattern makes duplication relatively easy. Farm boy thinking may well be involved in effective game design and group management. Outdoor Action Tag is closer to farm kids playing than it is to organized sports that city kids are exposed to – and there is something in everyone’s head that whispers to them ‘I wanna get back to the farm!’
For more information, contact George Manning - 306-382-2728 or 306-280-4100 or