The game I played was “Go” an originally Chinese strategy game that is played throughout Asia and worldwide. This is a board game played by two players. The board itself has a matrix carved into it the pieces, oblate spheroids, are placed on the parts of the board where these carved lines intersect. In Go, the pieces do not move in the Chess sense but are placed and remain unless captured by your opponent.
The point of the game is not to capture the most pieces as in Chess (with the goal of capturing the King) or even Checkers but to control the most territory on the board itself. Pieces are captured when they are totally enveloped by enemy pieces, and it is possible to take more than one piece at a time if the player is able to surround them. Depending on the shape of the formation chosen by the player a winning Go player can control large portions of the board in a defensive manner while still being able to take enemy territory.
There are very few rules and learning the game itself takes little time even for a first time player. However, as is the case in certain circumstances this simplicity of constraints and rules masks a game deep in complexity and nuance.
This game brings all types of people together, “from the new to the experienced, from the unskilled to the highly skilled, from the slightly interested to the addicted, and everything in between, is accommodated in the same space” (Gee & Hayes, p 11, 2012).
This influences game play and presents challenges. As a result of a game where there is not as much of a tangible form to how to play and win, not to mention no two games are the same, it almost is a situation of excessive freedom becomes a challenge itself.
It would seem that board games in particular tend to have excessive rules and constraints which ads an element of predictability. Go on the other hand seems to lack many of these frame works and as a result the game play varies from person to person and game to game. It is for these reasons that Go has been regarded as a superior game for learning military strategy when compared to Chess (in a more formal setting). The idea of there being no set moves or formations tends to have more in common with military strategy than more restrictive types of games. Further, as is the case in real military conflict capturing troops or a leader do not necessarily mean victory.
As in Go victory is typically bestowed to those who are able to capture and maintain territory. Some of the limitations of the game are also the aforementioned strengths. The lack of rules and freedom of play can be overwhelming to the new player and a tit for tat type of game play seems to always be a go to for a lesser experienced player. However, as we played more focus on strategy and less on just capturing pieces seemed to develop. In this sense the game was very challenging and fun to play. It would seem that to truly appreciate or learn using this ancient game one would have to practice often.
To view a YouTube tutorial on how to play click here.