Defining The Dream
During the course of the seven or so years that I've played this game, one question has repeatedly come up, from newbies and "old farts" alike. What does "the Dream" mean to you? The Dream is that nebulous, not easily defined purpose that makes us play this game year after year, enduring all manner of hardships, betrayals, and pain. The Dream is what drives us to forge meaningful relationships with complete strangers who quickly become as dear as our oldest friends. The Dream is often what keeps an at-risk student from turning to a life on the streets and gives him or her real role models to look up to when none can be found at home.
The Dream is something that I did not find when I was first introduced to live action roleplay in the form of the High Fantasy Society (HFS) at the University of Texas in Austin. The people there, while friendly and polite, were primarily concerned with the seriousness of ceremony and the meticulous details of character histories. The Dream is something I did not find when I started playing Amtgard in the Celestial Kingdom in Austin. Again, the people were cordial but in this instance, they were obsessed with politics and the inner workings of each member group. For a newbie who just wanted to swing a quarterstaff, this was not a welcoming environment.
It wasn't until I had moved back home, searched for the mythical Bear Creek Park group, and discovered there was a group meeting in Memorial Park in Houston that I felt I'd truly found my place in the world of Amtgard. It was there that I found a group of people who shared the same goal as me: to have fun above all else. Those who wanted to roleplay did so, those who wanted to fight did so, and those who wanted to do their own thing no matter what it was were welcomed with open arms and accepted unconditionally. At the time there was little concern with politics as Granyte Spyre was a far-flung member of the Golden Plains, based out of the Texas Panhandle region. Even when our little group banded with several other southeast Texas groups and became our own Kingdom, the Dream was still very much a tangible presence.
Now that the Kingdom of the Wetlands has seen a few years of existence, the Dream can still be found in each new group that petitions for membership and excitedly designs their own heraldic device for their chapter. We still have a large influx of newbies who become enchanted with this Game and the people who give it colour. We have long-lasting members whose names and deeds are practically legend in the annals of Amtgard. And perhaps most important of all, there is the feeling of satisfaction that I get when I visit the local parks and see newbies bringing their initially-reluctant friends from school or work, telling them "Didn't I tell you that you'd love this!" ...and seeing those same newbies come back again and again.