You have video games. You have board games. You have chess. You have a decent number of people showing up to play at the events you run, and your manager is happy. But you know more is possible if you just knew what to offer.
The game of Go has a long and respected history in the Asian world, where it has been played for thousands of years. By comparison, chess is a wee babe barely into its second millenium. Like chess, it is an abstract strategy game of territorial conquest that is incredibly easy to learn and incredibly difficult to master.
GO ON, GET YOUR GO ON
The American Go Foundation is reaching out to schools, libraries, and community centers that offer services to youth 18 and under. I am a huge advocate of gaming for all ages, but I know many libraries find teens and tweens comprise a large portion of their game patrons — so you should easily qualify for the offers being made.
Full details are available on the American Go Foundation “Support for Young Adult Librarians” website. Highlights of what they are offering includes things you would expect: free game boards, instruction books and sample copies of a magazine dedicated to Go tournaments.
What you might not expect is an offer to send the complete manga Hikaru no Go for the cost of shipping. The seventeen volumes lay out the coming-of-age tale of young Hikaru, whose interest in the game is sparked by the ghost of a player from the Heian Period haunting a board he finds in his grandfather’s shed. There is also an anime version of this story which has evidently inspired an explosion of new interest in the game in Japan.
If you have an anime club already, getting these books into the readers’ hands could be the seed of a new group of Go gamers. Certainly that appears to be the Foundation’s hope.
Go offers beneficial effects to its players. I was particularly intrigued by the short paragraph describing another free offer from the Foundation: Go As Communication by Yasuda Yasutoshi.
Here is what the site says about the book:
- “When Yasuda Sensei became concerned about social problems among young people, he began visiting Japanese schools, teaching children a simplified version of Go, which he called “First Capture Go.” Seeing immediate positive effects, he expanded his efforts to homes for the elderly and then to institutions for the mentally and physically handicapped. This book is the record of a surprising discovery, namely, that “First Capture Go” can have enormous educational and therapeutic value, even with senior citizens and those suffering from developmental delays and other disabilities.”
Finally, the Foundation also offers matching funds to buy books, supplies, and to cover the cost of a teaching grant.
If your community is uncertain about the value of video games in the library, offering highly intellectual abstract games like chess and go should not raise a single eyebrow. Never mind that both games are abstractions of war, conquest, death and battlefield mayhem reduced to the bare bones — the finest games have always had a powerfully competitive element.
Consider offering a program discussing the history of games in this light. Don’t forget to include a look into HG Wells’ book called “Little Wars” if you can find a copy. He espoused that if nations would play out war games with miniatures representing the men and materiel of battlefield warcraft, real blood and death could be completely eliminated. Quixotic? Or visionary?