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Amtgard Dinosaurs
[04/13/2004] [Randall]

Million of years ago, dinosaurs roamed the earth. These massive lizards were cumbersome, inconvenient creatures that evoke images of hokey, “Land of the Lost”-style movies at best and were terrible and vicious predators at worst. They eventually all got wiped out and only live on in the form of birds. When you really get down to it, the size, elegance and food value of these dinosaur descendents makes them much more useful animals.

To get to the thesis of this article, there’s a huge difference in Amtgard between being a voice of experience and wisdom and merely being a useless, scaly, clumsy old dinosaur.

Dinosaurs know the way the game used to be, but have little knowledge of how the game has become. They know they’d change a thing or two if they ever got elected, but they’ve been out of office for so long that all they remember is how to run a land in 1995 or 1990. That’s pretty bad. There were almost half as many kingdoms in 1995 as there are now and people still used PVC as a core. Clan was still the biggest event and the old kingdoms of the southwest fielded three times the fighters they do now. The game had only been international for a short time. It was a different age. And 1990 was even worse. All of us realize this except for the dinosaurs. The ideas that worked back then are all that they have.

This isn’t nostalgia, which is valuable in its own right – nostalgia requires at least an inkling of understanding of what the world is like. No, this is crotchety and cloistered ignorance, plain and simple. This means they have no constructive idea for how to make the game better. All they have is the ravenous, destructive instincts of a Luddite. They see lit ditch fields, modern camping events, improved sword tech, and the evolution of Amtgard combat, and they want to smash it. They see knighthood changing, Amtgard growing, and kingdoms forming, and they want to make it all go away. Their ideas on how to run the game are as obsolete as a PVC core.

There’s no value in this. In fact, it’s dangerous, because sometimes a dinosaur can be sweet-tongued or lucky enough to get elected and try to implement their ideas. All this ever accomplishes is a brief period of backwards-thinking self-indulgence as the leaders dwell in the past and the people don’t have the desire to follow or the will to change things. The reign goes down in history as a waste of time, a last hurrah of an out-of-touch and unfortunate ideology. It’s Don Quixote tilting at windmills, the British marching into German machine guns and the Poles riding cavalry against tanks – romantic, perhaps, but an exercise in failure in the end. Some lands do this more frequently than others and become pits of stagnation. Others do it all the time and become the Amtgard version of a lost tribe in the Andes, still practicing human sacrifice and wearing loincloths.

The problem is that dinosaurs wear blinders. Most of them have good intentions and fail to realize how hopelessly out of touch they truly are. They’re harmless enough when they aren’t in office, but we’re forced to endure the farcical scenario in which the emperor has no clothes when they do get elected. Everyone knows what is going on but the guy in charge.

A dinosaur isn’t merely someone who has been playing the game for a while. In fact, the Amtgard veteran is a tremendous asset that every successful park requires. The thing is, it’s possible to grow and adapt as the game grows and adapts. This requires a willingness to realize that Amtgard is a maturing and evolving sport and a determination to seek out and understand new ideas. In this way, a veteran will be the aforementioned voice of experience rather than the grumpy man in the corner telling the kids to get off his lawn. That’s a whole lot better for the game as a whole, because it means we’re remembering and using our past without being trapped by it. Amtgard needs that sort of guidance and support much more than it needs the inbred inertia that comes with rule by the dinosaurs.

The word veteran implies experience, understanding, talent and dedication. These are the good things the experienced Amtgarder brings to the table. A veteran unwilling to become a dinosaur will work at it, too. They will go to events around the country and visit new kingdoms. They will experiment with new weapon tech to see what the kids are so crazy about. They’ll try new fighting styles, check out websites, listen to Internet radio, and buy new kinds of duct tape. A veteran is practical; they keep what works, and discard what doesn’t, but they never discard their understanding of why.

Don’t forget your past, but learn about the present and keep an eye to the future. Stretch a little and grow your feathers. You’ll need them to fly away from the destruction when the asteroid finally hits.

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