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What Ails Amtgard?
[02/19/2007] [Roger]

In a surprise appearance, Sir Guy posted on e-Sam for the first time in ages, just saying hello basically from his retired Amt-life. The post also drew out a few others in similar situations such as Phocion.

I had a reply that I started working on to what Phocion said, but it got a bit more detailed and introspective than I first intended, and I thought to rework it into an article.

Both Guy and Phocion are people I respected greatly in amtgard, I worked a bit more wiith the latter but both were people that I considered among the best hopes for the future of Amtgard. They were bright, honest, dedicated, and working hard to try and make sure to save the game from itself and improve it into something more, to see its full potential. Guy moved out to the Pacific Northwest and made a valiant attempt to try and marshal those lands into something significant, and Phocion was one of the people that could be counted on in the morass that was the rulebook committee, despite the near glacial conditions it progressed at.

Back in those days the Burning Lands, identified very specifically with Aramithris, dominated the Amtgard political scene, where he and his crowd pretty much controlled the Burning Lands for a good decade or more, with perhaps a brief interruption in 2000. Back then, one of the primary issues facing the game seemed to be the growing antagonism between the BLBOD and most of the other kingdoms, it seemed every six months some kingdom or other was on their persona non-grata list, being threatened with reduction to duchy, and every time it was quelled it seemed like surely the next time would result in open rebellion that would shatter the game into splinter groups.

Meanwhile, the rulebook, over a dozen years old, and almost half of that with the committee (on which I was) supposedly working on it, moved at a snails pace, months would go by with little or no communication, the only time it would flare up was when someone was going to be kicked off the committee, or debating who might be added, or when someone was being slapped down for doing work on their own. Materials would be sent in and nothing would be heard from for ages, it was very much a disfunctional committee, and a sore point in much of Amtgard.

There growing antagonism wasn't just political, it seemed downright mean-spirited, at first from one side but increasingly from both.

Fast forward to now.

Somehow, we managed to emerge from that situation. We got our new rulebook, and better yet, it is one whose future control of revisions is now in the hands of the kingdoms themselves. The Burning Lands is no longer the great Amt-devil; groups actually find them easy to work with. Aramithris no longer has the reigns of Amtgard, nor the Burning Lands, having retreated from the game. There is some political drama, yes, but it is mostly regionalized, not anything that shakes the foundation of the game. Hell, we haven't even had a stabbing or assault that I know of in quite some time. The worse we've had is what, the ketchup incident? That wouldn't have made the top 5 of crimes committed at clan most years....

In short, compared to what we thought we were facing about 5 years ago, we have achieved just about all we were hoping against hope to, and avoided what we feared might happen.

Ideally, this ought to be a new golden age for Amtgard, then, right? ....

and yet... somehow.... the game seems less than it was somehow...

Good people like Sir Guy, Phocion, Ivar, and many others I'm sure find they no longer want to put up with things that go on at Amtgard. People sigh, shake their head, say stuff like "politics" and throw up their hands... as if the politics of today are worse than what used to go on. Are they? Is it just that they're getting too old to fight? I doubt it, hell, most of those guys could still mop the floor with the up-and-coming fighters of today. So what, then? I don't mean this as a knock on any of the people I've cited here, certainly they have given a ton to the game, more than most ever will several times over, and have certainly earned the right to call it quits if they wish, that isn't the point of this. I mean, what is it that gets these people to get frustrated with the game so they no longer care to be a part of what they fought for and achieved, what they built?

What exactly ails the game? Am I just imagining this malaise that seems to be afflicting us? Are the ones who've walked away imagining it? Is it just a personal thing in each case and just a massive coincidence? Or is there something more to it? In overcoming our obstacles, did we lose the drive to keep us going? Or are we adrift without the rudder that Aramithris once provided, even if he was drunk at the helm and guiding us towards the edge of the world? Is this just some part of the aging of the game? I won't say growing pains because it seems like that isn't really what is going on in many lands.

There are still new parks that spring up, and ones that have huge surges of population like Crystal Groves. Yet everyone is already finding things at fault with them, despite the fact they seem one of the few groups I've seen come along recently that has a healthy increase in membership. Just about every land in my kingdom, Neverwinter, is on the decline. It's a struggle to find 75 regular attendees between all our various parks.

I guess part of this is just rumination of where we are going. In comparing our current situation to back then, I try to think where we'll be five years from now, and wonder what we'll think of this time back then. Will I still be around? I'd like to think so but I'm not sure if I believe that. Because I too kind of feel the... kind of disenchantment, like something is missing. Sometimes I only continue because I feel I ought to, which is different than how it used to be, when it was just what made sense to do and I didn't think of it in any other way. I still enjoy the fighting, and events, and so on. But its not the same.

So, anyway, that lead to this piece. I guess I'm trying to grapple with what exactly it is that I feel about the state of the game, and seeing if it is similar to how others feel on it. I use a lot of humor on the boards and respond to whatever comes along in haphazard fashion because both are ways of keeping me involved in the pulse of what goes on, or at least what passes for it online. But it would be inappropriate here. I'm trying to be serious, because if we can get a grip on this then I guess it would make sense to then try and figure out how to combat it. It seems at least as great a peril as what we thought we faced back then. Back then, it was easy to personify our troubles, to pin them all on JW. That won't be the case here.

Anyway, enough rambling. What do you think? Am I off base here? are we fine and I'm just imagining all this?

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