Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.
Are there any local fields where you can rent equipment? Do you know anyone that plays, or wants to start playing? Can you scam your office into paying for a bunch of folks for a "teambuilding exercise"?
I'd suggest renting equipment from a local field, and go from there...it's not a cheap hobby and I can almost guarantee anything you buy at the start you will not want for long. Take a few friends along, more the merrier.
And I don't know your age, but I streach-out before getting anywhere near the field...I'm playing against 14yr olds with +$1000 guns often enough to warrant a little pre-game hydration and streaching. Wear baggy, breathable clothes, cheap sneakers/cleats, and if you are prior service, old bdus/cammies are almost obligatory for your first time playing, although hardly neccesary.
the 'cosplay' aspect of airsoft can enter in when you are playing scenario games, or milsim events, but the majority of folks are just everyday people out in the woods or local field shooting friends for fun.
Try to stay away from any sort of walk on play. It tends to be less organized and a a crapshoot. If you can get into a private group, organized big game, or even a scenario it would probably be more enjoyable.
Rent or borrow gear until you know for sure what you want.
I've played PB off and on since 1989, and if you're into the whole Milsim play, than it's a good time to be slinging balls.
My suggestion is spend a few weekends, rent a field gun, a mask and some paintballs, and buy some old BDUs, kneepads, and gloves, and just do it. Try it to see if you wanna make the investment in time and cash in playing. I would not join a club or team until your sure, and walk-on games are a good way to learn the slang, the unwritten rules, and making friends with all manner of pbers not matter if they wear camo or bright colours.
Also, try as many fields as possible during your "test phase"...then once you're sure, buy some cheaper markers and kit, and enjoy, then move up to more and more expensive markers and kit.
Welcome to the good stuff in life: paintball-putting your balls on your enemy's face.
We gathered some friends, started up playing a couple of times a year. Then we got bigger, more serious and we got a sponsor. Now it only cost half of what it used to do because of sponsor deals. You can easily get sponsors or at least discounts if you can gather enough people.
i have played PB for some time now and i must say its gotten me very eager to join the army, so if anyone reading this staying in the UK and is a citizen willing to sponsor a south african guy pls pm me. Thank