In northern Europe we’ve played tafl, chess (kvarn English translation?) And a bunch of backgammon. Those where the games available here. So those were played. As to why we play go. We do it because it’s there. It’s a completely pointless activity like climbing or football. A lot of good can come out of it. But it has no purpose other than being a fun activity. Back in the day there was also a lot more time to spend doing things. A Swedish winter as a farmer is basically six months of darkness snow and depression. So backgammon helps.
I don’t agree that there is no purpose other than it’s fun.
Actually, a lot of the time it is not fun. A lot of the time it is “whhhhyyy do I play this game!?”
I play it for discipline (mental) and learning. I play it for stimulation (mental) and protection against the aging mind. Etc.
The answers in this thread cast more light on the deeper reasons we play that can’t be described as “fun”.
nah, if there’s any thread to look in it’s this one
We got drugged when it was fun and now we’re just addicted
Clearly, we’re all just here for the…
Why we play Go is philosophical and subjective to each individual (here is my latest attempt to quantify it). But the why, for me, is because Go makes me feel like this!
For me it’s…
I’m extremely “leery” when someone is describing human behaviour and falls into the “you” trap with their language. That is with respect to the quotes from the blog itself: The references used and hence their conclusions seem like bs generalizations to me.
Do they mean You (the self opposite me I am speak directly to)? You (You group of people in front of me) One (Abstract groups of people with common grouping)?
The problem is: This is all gets mixed up and it also is used for persuasive reasons by politicians.
Let’s take Go: I don’t generally have anything in common with the Go players I’ve ended up playing. I don’t consider Go the most fun game I can option to choose to play at any given time. There’s a wide range of interesting intellecutal games to play. Finally I don’t believe there is an imperative or need to expand the number of players who play Go. If I was interested in intellectual excellence and development there is plenty of choice from serious work to choose from outside of games.
The article might as well have been “We play go because we drink water.” If the author did not assert that they have taught lots of players, I’d be tempted to conclude the piece is an artful trolling attempt on Go players, cherry picking pseudo-science to “fluff their egos” from which to then draw out typical group identity fallacies. Certainly that’s a trick I’ve seen played on other “groups in other forums in other places”.
Apologies for my deep cynicism. I am probably too suspicious of any proselyzing or marketing or selling attempt by people.
I suspect the reason I play Go is that it is a game that is amenable to intellectual pursuit and there are “good numbers” of very intelligent people who have explored this area and been able to produce and share and build upon these results with others, those who end up playing Go.
From that point of view, it would “seem” that Go is a good choice of game if one chooses an intellectual pursuit of the game in one’s playing of boardgames. I doubt many players will choose that pursuit in any great depth even so. There’s much fun to be had elsewhere in other games, alternatively as I am fully aware of myself.
To gamble and waste time. Its like a drug, much more interesting than the real world. When you play baduk and hear the sound of the stone hit the wood, it feels like your in heaven or some other world. But we have to live in this world. Hopefully there will be time for baduk in the next world and baduk tables will be everywhere. Its like dungeons and dragons, math, happiness, peace and quiet, a fake war, sudoku, connecting with a common bond that spans 2000 years, the excitement of winning or losing a bet, and the sound of wood against stone all in one little game. That’s why those young kids in korea can sit in a room playing this game 12 hours a day and never get sick of it. It can become more appealing than even food and water
because we want to
I don’t find it imperative to make Go popular in the western world. Whoever comes across and likes it, sure, jump in, but that’s about it.
Also, good luck to anyone hoping to gain admiration when they mention they play Go in my country, 9.999 out of 10.000 won’t even have heard of it.
Generally, I’m not a fan of the “look, I know this obscure supersmart thingy, admire me”, and I feel it’s an underlying sentiment.
I play Go because I like patterns and I’m not into competitive sports. I’m not deep .
… because we CAN?
Deny as much as you like
Ok, my previous response were a bit glib, so let me try a more serious response that addresses the spirit of the question, which I think is to ask “why do we want to play baduk”?
A lot of previous replies apply to a more general question of “why do we want to play games”? Some could even equally apply to other competitive pursuits, like chess or soccer, as well.
Hence, I want to focus on why Go (baduk) in particular
Ultimately, I think the main allure of Go (as opposed to many other games) is that it has both an incredible strategic depth and also that this depth emerges from incredibly simple mechanics. A lot of other games may have much more complicated rules, but turn out to have much more shallow strategy. So, it’s really quite remarkable and beautiful with Go, how such endless strategic depth can somehow emerge from its very simple rules.
This distinction of Go reminds of a quote from Fred Rogers that I really like:
I feel so strongly that deep and simple is more essential than shallow and complex.
— Fred McFeely Rogers
The simplicity of the basic rules and mechanics, along with its minimalist, abstract aesthetics gives Go a timeless quality, while its strategic depth gives the opportunity for a lifetime of endless learning and exploration without any fear of ever becoming bored.
Here is another quote from the chess international master and go player Edward Lasker, which I think applies to the question of “why Go rather than chess”?
While the Baroque rules of chess could only have been created by humans, the rules of go are so elegant, organic, and rigorously logical that if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play go.
— Edward Lasker
Since you’ve covered “serious” and even included by favourite Lasker quote, I will cover “silly”…
Why do we play Baduk? Because we can’t play Gooduk.
I don’t find it imperative to make everyone like Go, and I agree that it should be up to the individual to determine whether they really want to get into the hobby. Some people will not like Go and that’s perfectly fine.
However, I do think that more can and should be done in the western world to give more people the opportunity to discover and learn about Go. I think that the popularity of Go in the west is far below its true potential. I believe the huge disparity between the popularity of chess vs go is largely due to the latter having far less exposure in western cultures.
But why should we care about introducing more people to Go? Well, from an altruistic perspective, I think that Go is a great hobby that a lot of people would find enjoyable and enriching, but unfortunately many never get the opportunity to be introduced to the game. From a selfish perspective, I think that we would all benefit from a larger, more vibrant community of Go players, even if only for the reason of making it easier to find someone to play or talk about go with.
It would be great to introduce more people to Go. I’d like to see it become more popular (I’ve tried warming a couple of people to it) and I believe most things settle to their “natural percentage” of target groups sooner or later.
Lots of things in art, cooking, literature etc would be nice to have a broader audience, but unfortunately that’s not the case, for reasons mentioned above. Not everyone is adventurous, I try to let people be.
My slight disagreement is the sentiment “this superior Asian game MUST be discovered by the west”, because I have associated negative overall behaviors with this.
However, if someone picked up Go because they saw it on Counterpart, I’m happy.
Edir: I wonder if chess players in Seoul are having the same conversation in reverse.
I think it is very unfair to suggest that this might be a common sentiment among those that try to promote Go in the west.
Similar to a lot of interests (like art, cooking, literature, as you mention), people will want share the things that they love with others. People may want to do so for various reasons, but I think the motivation of asserting cultural superiority is rarely among them.
Clarification: I think “western” people tend to see it that way, not Asians themselves.
I’ve seen it in everything, from Asian superfoods, to skincare, to studying regimen, to spirituality. I’m not saying that’s why most people do it for this reason, just a word of caution because some might do it without realizing it.
Which is not to say we shouldn’t play it, just treat it like a new find and not attach other stuff to it.
Edit: I’ll edit one final time, because I realize I haven’t written what I mean in a clear way: in similar situations, I’m afraid there will be an influx of overachiever parents forcing kids who’d rather learn tennis to learn Go, so they become “smart, like those Asian kids”. Something along those lines. Although I’ll be the first to admit the end result will be positive, as in the end the people who like Go will stay.