Making Go More Popular


Making Go more popular outside of Asia.


  • availability of players
  • multiplicators (people who tell that they like Go and could tell what it is)
  • availability of equipment
  • lack of reliable information
  • export of values and culture which don't travel easily
    • attention span among TV watchers



SunPin?(Chris Uzal) This is not a complicated issue at all. Poker, blackjack and many other games are more difficult than baduk. They suffer from weird names, deficient logic and arcane rules. Baduk is, as Lasker described it, organic.

Games need two of the three following items to achieve popularity: whiskey, wagers and women. The rules obviously don't matter and I assert that heuristics do not matter either. If there is something on the line -a few dollars, a beer, an agreement that the loser must do(ie, shave eyebrows), people will learn to play. I've seen something about Confucius getting really upset that weiqi had become a parlor game with gambling and other vices. People played enough to get him upset.

The Confucians of this game has failed to properly promote it because they see it as a much more than just a game.

Dieter: You confuse the complexity of the rules with the innate complexity of the game. Poker is popular precisely because desperadoes occasionally stage an upset in the tail of a probability distribution. That gives idiots the idea they stand a chance against experts. In Go there is no room for such daydreams: the chance of a novice beating an expert in a single game is zero.

I believe that is also where the popularity of football comes from. In a single game there is no law of big numbers (contrary to basketball). The outsider can always upset the favourite. You don't have that in Go and this is one of the intrinsic hurdles for it becoming popular.

Charles Matthews A complex issue, as anyone who has been involved long-term in the promotion of go will realise.

Suppose the question is 'make 19x19 go played within the Japanese or Chinese or Korean traditions more popular and well-known in the rest of the world', then I think we know there are a few fundamental problems. They range from the availability of equipment, through lack of reliable information, to the question of export of values and culture which don't travel easily.

The other aspect is adaptation of go to its potential market. One very obvious feature is the use of small boards for teaching (one should note that some outstanding go teachers don't use them). There is capture go. It has been postulated that choice of rule set has an effect (I personally am sceptical, which isn't to say that no one benefits from teaching based on the 'sophisticated' sets of rules). There is go on servers, which very largely removes human contact. There is go at shorter time limits. Pair go was designed with this in mind.

One way to get a more sharply defined discussion seems to be to ask and debate what type of infrastructure does best at reconciling these two sides.

XCMeijin - I believe the solution already exists. Hikaru no Go represents the game of Go in a unique way. Just spread the anime and manga around the world and hey presto!, Go playing population doubles!

There IS the problem of those who don't like Anime/Manga. Intellectuals may be introduced to the game as a challenge to fire up their egos. Go MAY be introduced into medical treatment for mental disorders (alzhemirs, etc), but i'm not too sure of the medical value (i.e., I'm NOT a doctor).

The key seems to be to introduce the game through various channels, rather than coming straight from "The Go World". They'll just look at us as if we're aliens, although a handful may enjoy their first contact :P.

excession - the western world seems obsessed with all things Chinese at the moment. Certianly the Chinese "business machine" is something that is attracting a lot of media attention. Perhaps there is some way that Go players can capitalise on this.

Charles Hikaru has done some good. People read it, they play on a server. Eventually they find that go is quite tricky, and to a large extent observing games on a server leads to the blind leading the blind. Discouragement?

nachtrabe: One of the issues is that baduk is a game with some basic heuristics (things that can only be learned by playing) and, until you get those heuristics, certain things are just flat-out difficult. A beginner (arguably this is true of stronger players as well) often doesn't even see "spheres of influence" or "thickness" and has no real grasp of "sente" or what a move can be valued at (or even that it can be valued). Whether groups live or die seems to be a product of luck in their own minds.

This means that baduk has a bit of a sharp learning curve after a person picks up the very basics, which can make it hard to keep people.

In a club atmosphere, this can kind of be overcome, but I believe it is more difficult online among people of equivalent skill. Drawing more people to the game so that they will come on their own is good, but we need to think of a way of keeping them once they are there as well.

C.S. Graves: I live in a small city where few people know about baduk/go/weiqi, and even fewer know how to play. To my knowledge, there isn't even a club of any kind here currently (short of one I tried to foster a few years ago). I can only foresee this being a slow process, as much as I'd love to see a thriving go salon here.

I would make an analogy to agriculture, where you plant the interest in a handful of individuals, cultivate that, and when the time comes, they may spread knowledge of the game on to others. I think this slow, one on one approach is the only way to build something solid. Exploiting trends and references in popular culture may attract a few, but I've found that crowd to be fickle, often more interested in the protrayal of the game than the actual play (e.g. folk who have seen Pi and ABeautifulMind. Dieter has some relevant thoughts on the page for the latter).

Perhaps I sound pessimistic, but this only because as far as baduk is concerned, my hometown is a harsh environment. Larger cities are bound to meet with greater success, to an extent at least.

Tapir: [ext] Here Go became fashionable very recently.

Making Go More Popular last edited by SunPin on January 22, 2013 - 14:10
RecentChanges · StartingPoints · About
Edit page ·Search · Related · Page info · Latest diff
[Welcome to Sensei's Library!]
Search position
Page history
Latest page diff
Partner sites:
Go Teaching Ladder
Login / Prefs
Sensei's Library