The UNSW Blitz magazine recently interviewed me as representative of the Go (Baduk) Club. Here’s the results:
-The word “Go” seems to have a different meaning for you guys… care to share?
Haha, we’ve heard a few interesting slips. At O-Week, a lot of people thought “Go Club” was some sorta sorta outreach division of Red Cross, who we were sharing stalls with. I’ve also had inquiries thinking that we were the Cheer(leading) Club. They’re both great clubs mind you, but we’re about an ancient board game. It’s called “Go” in Japanese, but is also popularly known as “Weiqi” in Chinese and “Baduk” in Korean. Roughly translated, it means “Surrounding Chess.” In a nutshell, it’s a strategy game of world domination.
– What are the most important skills a member of the Go Club needs to have?
It’s a combination of things, really. Yeah, you can say all the typical stuff like patience, humility, a sense of harmony. Sure, get your Zen on and all that. From another angle, this is a game where you can really let your personality show in the way you play. That’s what makes the game fun. If you look at a Go board, it’s a 19×19 grid that you keep putting stones down on. That’s a huge amount of space. It’s your canvas, and whoever you are, you are spelling it out for the world right there. As a result, no matter how skilled or unskilled a match is, you can clearly see things like the individuals’ sense of humour, cockiness, tenacity, creativity, or sneakiness– and I mean, just by looking at the plays, without paying attention to what’s being said (if anything). You can even look at the way someone is playing and sense fighting spirit, or smell fear.
So really, the most important skill is to want to play. Everything else, including skill, comes as byproduct of the pursuit of that initial passion. I guess that sounds like life in general, but hey– I’ve always said that if life is game, you should play hard, and good things will come of it.
– How would you spot a Go Club member on campus?
Chances are, if you spot an Asian, that gal or guy knows how to play, or knows someone who plays. But there’s also a rising popularity for Go in non-Asians. We’re trying to encourage all of it. We’re not limited to a bunch of nerds and/or geeks, there are plenty of perfectly socially adjusted people who play go. We’re peripherally everywhere I think, but ideally you wouldn’t need to look further than yourself to find a Go Club member. Open invitation!
– what kind fo stuff to you guys get up to when you’re not on the board?
Last week we went out for some Korean BBQ, but if you mean what kind of people join this club? All sorts. A whole bunch of us are into anime. (I hate to stereotype, but it’s true.) We come from all backgrounds, so it’s really hard to list it out here. I just think that it’s a stereotype that this is just a game for old men– that’s how it’s presented on television. In reality, it’s gals and guys of all ages, and all sorts of interests– God only knows what kind of mischief or good they do when they’re not at the boards! You’d have to stop by the club to get the full details, we’re a sociable bunch.
– how does one join Go Club?
Drop in anytime at our twice-weekly meets, or join our facebook group. We’ve also got an official presence on some online servers like KGS. Everything’s free. It doesn’t matter if you have no clue how to play– we give lessons. It takes us literally less than 2 minutes to explain how the game is played. Playing well? That takes a bit more time, but it’s an insanely easy game to learn. The best way is to bring a friend with you: we teach you together, and you practice kicking eachother around the board. It’s great laughs because obviously, when people first join they make lots of mistakes– but there’s nothing quite like that moment when one of the two comes upon a glint of understanding that changes everything. Then you see that suddenly, the two friends start going at eachother with a marked bloodlust. Our approach to teaching is very “Hunger Games.”
But yeah, people get really good at this club just by showing up. That’s how you join: just show up.
– What’s with the board game revival we’ve seen recently?
I think what’s going on is that people are getting a little bored with the typical multiplayer video game experience. There was a while when simulated violence and all sorts of stunning graphics were amazingly new– but now, there are tough standards to top in the video game industry. It’s really hard to make something that’s truly new. As a result, people might be going back to more ‘classical’ approaches to gaming, whether it’s with dice, cards, pewter dogs, whatever. For me, part of the appeal of this game is that 10 years down the line, there will still be people for me to play this game with– wheras nobody really cares about Halo nowadays. There’s a much better return on investment, because there’s something enduring about a game that has survived thousands of years. It’s like a return to classic literature, after getting bored of the next vampire love triangle novel. Here’s something real that you can appreciate for the rest of your life, because you can continue to share in enjoying and analysing it with generations to come.