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A Fundamental Flaw
[04/30/2002] [Randall]

I remember saying something once... actually, I remember saying many things many times. Some things I said were funny. Some were not. Some got me new friends, while others made folks dislike me. Heck, some things I've said earned me the official position as Chief Betrayer of the Burning Lands. That's really what e-Samurai is all about, after all -- not betraying the Burning Lands, but saying things so they can be remembered and engaging more Amtgarders in discussion of the game. All of that's beside the point of this article, though.

I remember sitting around talking to someone about Amtgard, and thinking how much fun it was. It was a little over a year since I'd started playing again, and there was a lot to be discussed. Friends, fighting and fun made the whole experience as good as being a newbie all over again.

Eventually, our conversation drifted towards the bad things about Amtgard. Anyone who has played Amtgard for more than a few months knows that there's plenty of bad to talk about, ranging from politics to sluffers to e-mail flame wars. We eventually got to the topic of awards, and that's when I quietly mentioned, "It's the titles that kill this thing."

I meant it, too. The pursuit of titles and awards may help the club, but the anger that's felt over these awards hurts the game badly. Knighthood is the biggest case. How many people do you know who have quit Amtgard due to not getting knighted? I can think of half a dozen off the top of my head, and my experience is limited to Las Cruces. In fact, when I count people who quit for some reason other than real life intervening, nearly all of them quit because of not getting some award. But that's not the point, either.

A fundamental flaw in our club is that awards have become the way to say thanks. People do good work and expect an order, title, or knighthood. Monarchs have to strain to be omniscient so they can recognize the work everyone does during their reign; after all, if someone thinks they're not appreciated, they might get upset and stop helping. But that's not really the point, either.

When was the last time you got an order or award from the club? You probably still have the paperwork for it. Now try to remember the last time anybody thanked you for the good things you did in Amtgard. Can you remember? I suspect most people can't.

That's the point.

People crave orders because they do work and nobody says thank you. They see orders as vindication of their good deeds. When nobody says thank you, gratitude for service is put off for months until mid-reign or coronation. That's when the monarch, who has hundreds of things to remember and isn't all-seeing, forgets to give 'em anything. If nobody says anything positive, all the folks'll hear is all the bad stuff said -- and let's face it, there's more than enough griping and badness in Amtgard to go around.

When people get upset at not getting an award, it's not so much the awards that upsets them. It's the feeling that their work is unappreciated. Even if awards are given, it's important to complement official praise of Amtgard's hard workers with a more personal touch.

Thanking someone is easy. For most people, it's all they want -- not orders or titles. The next time someone keeps a good attitude at the park, goes that extra mile to make the game better, or generally does something that impresses you, tell 'em thanks.

They'll thank you for it.

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