Amtgard Rules of Play.

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Remove Your Officers
[07/16/2003] [Randall]

Isn’t Clan just over a week away?

You’d think it is. By all accounts, the Burning Lands has been posting to all the lists. When I go to the Clan website and check it out, it says Clan starts on the 23rd. It won’t be long before I’m repairing weapons and getting everything ready to head up to Ruidoso and thump some monkeys. All the signs point to Clan.

Except, if Clan is so close, where’s the list drama?

Every year, around the middle of June, something hits the lists hard. Some issue or crisis explodes into a flame war that lasts for weeks and only dies down when everyone is on the road to New Mexico. Aramithris cc’s his AmtgardInc e-mails to three other randomly-chosen lists and blames Dragonspine while comparing Zulu spears to the Holocaust. The Wetlands knights someone three times at a strip club. A goat that speaks Hebrew is born in Lubbock and swings the Althing vote. It’s always the same. Granted, the previous vector was always the Amtgard list itself, but if e-Samurai is its successor, you’d think there’d be hollering in the forums here. There isn’t.

It’s not like there’s nothing to talk about, either. Contracts have been lost, there’s arguments over who can attend the Monarch’s Meeting, 6.12 reportedly is designed to be implemented without the kingdoms having a vote – that’s a lot of controversy! And Aramithris, the normal source of crisis in Amtgard, is still posting to the AmtgardInc list despite an act of God that destroyed his computer and a bunch of BLBOD paperwork. (God is seldom so specific.) Even so, the lists remain quiet.

I’m not a fan of needless flame wars or senseless spam, but in a game where we are governed by an unelected set of imperial oligarchs, the flame wars are the only accountability we have. The folks in charge hate them, too, so they are happier when we’re happier – and therefore quieter. When the information is out there and the people are restless, at least Nero must acknowledge the howls of protest before distracting us with panem et circenses. But when nobody protests, there’s no accountability.

How’s that for a segue?

Accountability is absolutely important in this game, because without it, the officers and dictators who are in charge can do whatever they want. And, before anyone starts saying that Randall told them to flame people on the mailing lists, I want to focus on the offices you actually elect.

Folks roll through office doing a poor job and are never removed, or, almost as bad, they don’t show up and miss half their reign. By the time anyone pays attention to how messed up their officers really are, there’s just a month or two left and they figure it’s just not worth it to remove them. The rest of the land sees this and sees that the bar has been lowered – the amount of incompetence that will be tolerated has been raised. I’ve seen it happen in my own kingdom, and I’ve seen it happen in others. Piss on the records and dance around them? You can finish your term. Get tossed in jail? No problem! Here, have a dukedom and a white belt.

And that’s the final thing, isn’t it? If you don’t remove folks from office, the only accountability you’re left with is the hope that they won’t get a title for their efforts. That’s still pretty crappy, though, because everyone knows when they’ve hit the point of no return. Missed two months straight? You know you’re not going to walk away with a title, but you might salvage your dignity if you stick it out and finish your reign. That’s the thinking, and that’s why people need to read their corpora, sign a petition, and remove the chaff from their lands, because incompetent officers won’t do it for them. And if nobody raises their voice and says how much the incompetence smells, there’s always that chance that the buddy system will give them the title they don’t deserve anyway.

Remove your officers. Do not tolerate less than the best. Reduce the number of weeks they can miss before they’re automatically gone. Tell your king not to give them titles. Demand to see the ledgers. And do not be afraid to say what you believe. Accountability requires nothing less.

When we don’t have a vote – and I know a lot of the e-Samurai are from Goldenvale and the Mystic Seas, and even my own Dragonspine -- our chances for accountability go way down, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. In the real world, dictatorships are only ever held accountable when information is freely available and freely discussed – that’s why the worst tyrants do their best to crush access to knowledge and keep their subjects in the dark. Amtgard is no different. The health of our club depends on people keeping discussion of the issues that affect our game alive.

So don’t let the tyrants off the hook, either. You might not have a vote, but you have a voice, and you can make yourself heard. I know what the mob in Rome knew – there’s a whole lot of us, and you won’t like us when we’re angry. And a tyrant who is not responsible while he rules will be held accountable after he falls.

Finally, the increasing tribalism of Amtgard must stop. We can’t hide on our kingdom lists and ignore the game. This attitude – this feeling of Butt out, these are my own problems – has got to stop. Your problems are also my problems! We’re all playing the same Amtgard, and the things that happen in your kingdom affect the entire game.

And yes, maybe you can post a thing or two online, too. So many people care about Amtgard in so many different ways that the flame wars of summer are an inevitable and sometimes unfortunate part of Clan – but they are part of what keeps the game alive.

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