October 01, 2015

Culture and strategy games

Intercultural Communication

Strategy games across cultures provide information on relationships with others, with space, with time, and provide clues for negotiation.

Culture and strategy games

After describing the three major strategy games that are emblematic around the world, Pierre Fayard pertinently shows us to what extent culture and strategy games are closely linked. The games are a playful replication of the strategies put in place by men according to their culture.

Intercultural reading of the rules of the game

For those who are unaware of the rules of the game of Go, there is a very simple trick to guess them from the better known rules of Chess, as these are the opposite of each other.

If in Chess, the lead goes to White, it is therefore Black who starts the game in Go because in Asia the night precedes the day as we cite in order the yin(feminine) before the yang(masculine), and not day and night, pluses and minuses, strengths and weaknesses…

Direct /Indirect

If all of the players' potential is visibleand available on the board at the start of the game, the go-ban is initially empty because the stones are introduced one by one alternately by each one, starting with the edges that are easier to defend, followed by a slow, but inexorable, progression towards the center. In terms of strategy, Chess proceeds more from a direct modality while Go is indirectly inspired.

In Chess, the dead on the field of honor, i.e. the captured pawns and pieces are removed. In Go, with the rare exception of taking stones, these support, connect and defend unoccupied territories, and launch offensives which block and handicap the structuring of opposing territories.

In Go, the offensives are progressive, by means of an insensitive reticulation. This does not prevent them from being formidable, as if the Go player were frightened by too much visibility. The less the progression is readable, the less the opponent is able to use it as a point of support for his counterattacks.

And what about Awélé? The sowing gameconveys a surprising moral principle for a strategy game. It prohibits putting the other player on the brink, or in the situation of no longer being able to play due to an absence of seeds in his camp/field. If the opposing land is no longer occupied/cultivated, the possibility of making gains there is in vain. A hungry opponent is of no use, hence this limit not to be crossed. To take you have to givebecause the seeds only pass through. We sow in others in order to reap betterand enrich ourselves because the profit is always made in the opposite camp. So it is with a potential that must be actualized, committed and risked to become profitable. It will hardly come as a surprise that in this game from the African cradle, time and rhythm prevail over space. As the name suggests, this circulation game is cyclical, and the best harvesters are those who know how to count and configure favorable circumstances with alacrity.

Absolute or relative victory

Like the game of Go where we do not try to prevent the opponent from establishing territories, the Awélé player does not prevent the other from harvesting. Unlike the game of Chess where victory is absolute once the king has fallen, it is relative to create larger and more profitable territories (Go), or more abundant harvests than the other (Awélé). Working for the fertility of the opposing field only appears paradoxical at first glance because it is the guarantee of one's own growth. Those who are slower in rhythm and less clear in cycles are dominated, but never to the point of being starved.

Patience in the relationship

The Awélé does not build fortresses but granarieswhere a potential of seeds ready for action accumulates. We do not seek to exclude, but to better benefit from the otherwithout completely ruining them.

At Awélé, the skills of calculation, reflection, concentration, but also patience in relationships, in accumulation and in the offensive, are cardinal virtues. The objective is to make the opponent's field fertile, while simultaneously and defensively ensuring the sterility of one's own. As in the game of Go, we do not play againsteach other, but necessarily with, or even more, in cooperation. To prevent harvests at home, it is important that our squares/hollows support each other defensively so as not to offer the opponent opportunities to harvest.

It is therefore the circulatory artwhich creates the wealth here when it is the mastery of empty spacewhich constitutes that of Go, and the death of the king oppositewhich consecrates victory on the chessboard.

It is symptomatic to note that the principles of Awélé's game particularly coincide with the ways of creating wealth on the internet. As long as they have not been harvested, the seeds/potentials circulate. The Chess player plays againstthe other, the Go player withthe otherin the space in which he installs his networks, the Awélé player also plays withkeeping in mind the rhythm and the cycleswhich will make him win or lose. His adversary is not an enemy but a challenge to his intelligence, a challenge for the farmerand traderhe embodies.

Different strategies depending on cultures

At Awélé, it is not a question here of clearing the chessboard of the resistances which clutter it in order to impose its order, in other words of creating a vacuum by simplifying, by destroying the forces of the another player to render him unable to defend himself.

The Western strategist Carl von Clausewitz ( On War) resonates with Chess when he wrote that the object of strategy consists primarily of destroying the enemy's forcesso that the enemy cannot oppose the wishes that we dictate to him.

Following Sun Tzu ( The Art of War), the Go player takes the advantage and wins by adapting to the changes and dispositions of his opponent. If he attacks in broad daylight, it is to better defeat in secret(idem).

Abandoning a few minor harvests to ensure abundant ones constitutes the magnetic north of Awélé where the only limit to gains is the survival of the partner because his famine would prevent him from maintaining the land on which to harvest. In this scenario, the other is a utility much more than an adversary, and it is his ignorance and his slowness that make him fertile. The raiding mentality is not foreign to this gaming philosophy where the nomadic predator of the desert waits for the sedentary people to fatten up and accumulate in order to intervene at the right time. At the right time and with the right rhythm it appropriates the riches up to a certain limit, with accuracy, without exceeding the threshold beyond which the bees would not spend the winter, or that the survivors would be in the inability to transform the blooming of spring flowers into honey. The cycle would have been rendered sterile, which must be avoided.

To get rich, you need others, it's an elementary law of commerce. Is this more relevant than ever in virtual logic, networks and planetary circulations?

What possible winning score for the Awélé player versus the Go colonizer who carves out protected spaces there? Time versus space, rhythm versus interconnected fortresses?

What sovereign policies for Awélé players in relations with those of Go and Chess. We can only regret the scarcity of strategic and tactical studies on Awélé and its variations.

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