|Persona or Pseudonym?
Many Amtgarders are familiar with the term 'flurb' -- a player who devotes an unusual amount of time roleplaying a persona. For many groups, this describes a player who spends any amount of time at all roleplaying in Amtgard.
As has often been the case in Amtgard, however, practice differs from theory. In fact, roleplaying has become more and more synonymous with being a newcomer to the game. As an Amtgarder matures in the game, he or she is expected to go along with the idea that roleplay is unwelcome outside of bardic circles, arts & sciences competitions, or playing the Bard class in a battlegame.
Nevertheless, the first thing almost anyone reads when they first pick up a copy of the Amtgard Rules of Play is an admonition for new players to create a medieval- or fantasy-based persona for Amtgard. So, what does it mean to have a persona in Amtgard within the limits of acceptability?
Suppose a guy named Fred joins Amtgard. He chooses the name 'Aloysius' for himself, but creates no fictional background or alternate personality to go with the name. In any given corner of Amtgard, what Fred has done is totally acceptable. To do more would earn him the dishonor of being flurbish, which may be small or great depending on how negatively roleplaying is looked upon. But what we have here is a fellow not with a persona, but a pseudonym.
Is this all we should aspire to in Amtgard? Picking a cool-sounding (and, one hopes, original) pseudonym? Is this what the so-called Dream is about?
In this sense, the Rules of Play has not been entirely honest with our newbies past, present, and future. . . we ask them to invent a persona, then we set them up for abuse later when they unknowingly make the social blunder of doing anything other than playing the game using some sort of period nickname they picked out themselves.
So what should be done? Should the new edition of the Rules of Play currently in development concede the point and go along with accepted practice, as it has done with other aspects of the game? Or should the Amtgard bible continue to aspire to something higher and nobler, and continue the tradition of calling for an actual persona?
If your choice is for the latter, should we not also aspire to the same thing? Mind you, we don't have to spend an evening or two working out a real persona for ourselves, or consistently roleplay in every battlegame or feast we have. We can help realize the Dream simply by encouraging those who roleplay well, help those who do it poorly, and to put an end to the flurb stereotype that the roleplayers in Amtgard have been painted with. Remember, this is their game too.
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