Painball is a facility for condemned criminals. Criminals can either choose being spray gunned to death, or to become 'Painballers,' and these criminals go to the Painball Arena to play to the death. More like an enclosed forest than an arena, the Painballers only got enough food for two weeks and paint for the Painball gun.

The name of the sport also gives readers an idea of a sharp sting, like the sting of paintball, which many people have experienced. Once you get hit in Painball, the sting does not go away but instead gets worse: 'Painball gun--it shot paint, like a regular paintball gun, but a hit in the eyes would blind you, and if you got the paint on your skin you’d start to corrode'.

Atwood uses black humour and parodies the sport of paintball. Also, there are cameras hidden in the trees in the Painball forest, and people can watch the game onscreen as a reality show. 'Rich guys loved to imagine themselves as Painball players. They gambled on the teams as well: Red against Gold. A lot of money changed hands over Painball.'

'There were three guys from Painball in the Snakepit - ones who'd just got out. You could always tell because they were freshly shaved, with new haircuts, and new clothes too, and they had a stunned look, like they'd been kept in a dark closet for a long time. Also they had a little tattoo at the base of their left thumb - a round circle, red or bright yellow, depending on whether they were Red Team or Gold Team.'

'Mordis wasn't happy. Four of those Painballers - that was a lot to handle. And what if they were from different teams and just yesterday they were trying to disembowel each other?'

Blanco, the manager from the branch of SecretBurgers that Toby works at, ends up in Painball after he kills a CorpSECorps woman. 'No woman ever got away from him, was his boast.'