Friday, January 13, 2012

Spreading Go throughout the West

A friend of mine from college and I sat down about a week ago and discussed this very topic, and it fascinates me to no end.  Go has always been a niche market.  The game appeals to computer programmers and people who tend to enjoy math.  Go also attracts a few artsy types, connoisseurs of Japanese culture, and a few other people like myself who study Asian languages and culture.  There's always been this sense that Go never crossed into the main stream to the point where the average person on the street would have at least seen it and not mistaken it for Othello.  We crow when the U.S. Go Congress has over 500 participants, and we applaud as new Go clubs open up in schools across the U.S.  We fall out of our chairs when we see Go anywhere in the mainstream media.  Some think it's a matter of time before the love of Go reaches all four corners of the country, where others think that the culture doesn't have enough room in it for intellectual games with Chess having carved out such a huge section for itself.  

I personally feel there is no ceiling, but we as a community have to switch our tactics.  We have time on our hands, but we have to drop some of the old thinking that other people are going to enjoy the game the way we do.  This is the mindset of "So You Want to Play Go?" Level 1.  My assumption was that the reader would not play Go more than perhaps three times a year.  The probably would never go on to the second book, nor fully understand everything in the first.  They would, however, be entertained and feel that they learned something and came away with more information.  Perhaps they could talk about the game at some social event or with a buddy.  Socializing the game I think is the way forward.  I also would hope that there could be more tournaments modeled as cultural festivals, and then advertise about them in local papers so that you can snag more people.  I'm just basing this off of a handful of anecdotes, but if people saw it more as a light social experience rather than a quest to become the next Dosaku, the game overall might gain more traction.