Games for your mind

Posts Tagged ‘Stories

mahjong-piecesThe Mahjong (麻雀麻将),  is a board game for four players, born in China at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and now worldwide popular, especially in United States and Japan.

Its name means “bird of hemp” or “hemp sparrow”.

There are different versions about the birth of this board game, but the most legendary one tells that Mahjong board game was invented by a fisherman in China about 2500 years ago.

The story goes that a fisherman was on his boat and, during a storm, seeing his men worried and scared, he invented something to entertain them. It is said that the gods favoured the poor fisherman and inspired him the invention of a game with few pieces of wood. In a meantime, the fisherman carved the pieces with different symbols, and taught his men how to play this new board game. The crew was so interested in the game that soon forgot the storm.
The fisherman called the game Mah-Jong (hemp bird), remembering the little bird that always followed him during the fishing.

confuciusAnother legend attributes the invention of the Mahjong game to the great Chinese philosopher Confucius, around 500 BC.

This story (considered false by historians) has some curious correspondence with the reality: infact the pieces of the game called the “three dragons” represent the three cardinal virtues professed by Confucius: the red Chung (Benevolence), the green Fa (Sincerity ) and the White Po (love). It is said that Confucius had a great love for birds, and for this reason called the game  Mah-Jong (bird of hemp).

Many of the terms used in this board game, such as Chee and Kong, are explained with the Confucian origin of the game.

However, for historians, the Mahjong game was invented at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Some researchers sad that this game could come from the Madia (马吊) , another popular board game played in China at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty.

There are only hypothesis around the real inventor of this board game. Someone say that it was created by Chinese army officers, to pass the time during the Tai Ping Rebellion (1851-1864), others that the inventor was a noble of Shanghai between 1870 and 1875.

But we like to think that the game of Mahjong  was invented either by the fisherman or by Confucius, because we’re so fascinated by old stories.

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Role game_boxI would like to start this new column, to explain and enlighten anyone interested to that particular form of gaming called role game.

Role games are now very popular all over the world. More than 1000 games were published after the first launch in 1974 of “Dungeons & Dragons”, the father of all modern role games; But, especially between non players, a lot of people don’t know what a role game is exactly, so I’ll try give a simple definition for it. A role game is a particularly form of gaming in which players pretend to be the characters of a story invented move after move by themselves, under the supervision of a Master (Narrator).

The Master expose a situation to the partakers and each one of them tells  what he would do to solve the dilemma and overcome the difficulties of the adventure; for example how to liberate a princes locked up in a remote fortress from an evil magician or how to prevent the outlaws from making robberies in the wild west.
Normally a role game is played around a table and if a player wants to do an action with uncertain results (like jump from a running train to fight against a dragon), throws the dices and the story change in a way or in another according to the dices’ score.

Who wins the role game?

Nobody wins, because role game is not about wining, is about narration and cooperation, the aim of every role game is to have fun and invent an all-involving story together.
And the Master? The Master doesn’t play, he only describes the game’s situations and coordinate players’ actions during the development of the story; he’s the supervisor and also leads all the others character of the story that interact with players’ characters (like the evil magician who locked up the princess in my example). The Master is the arbiter, the caretaker and the director of the role game.

How long does the group of players take to finish the role game?

A single story or an adventure can last for two hours to few months, but role game’s characters are like the protagonists of a literary saga or a television series : ended one story, they can be used for other adventures, improving their powers and shaping their temper with more accuracy.

The most amazing thing of the role game is that it has not boundaries, the only limit is your fantasy! This is the reason why Role Games are often called “the gym of  human creativity”.

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