Barcelona 2002 Colloquium

--{ Barcelona 2002 }--

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Board Games in Academia V


Susanne Formanek and Sepp Linhart

Playing with filial piety some remarks on a variation of 19th-century pictorial sugoroku games of Japan

Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyoe) form a part of artistic world culture, but it is perhaps not so well known that the same technique of colourful woodblock prints was also used for producing a wide range of utilitarian graphics, inluding games. The best-known of these games are the pictorial sugoroku (e-sugoroku), race games somewhat akin to the goose game and not to be confused with ban sugoroku, which is the Japanese equivalent to the backgammon.

These artistically designed board games adroitly combine visual text (pictures) and written text in order to create a universe which the players have to go through in the intent of reaching the goal first. Many varieties of such e-sugoroku were evolved during the 18th and 19th century, their respective universes revealing a lot about the spheres of interest of the Japanese citizens of their time

In our presentation we will concentrate on two such sugoroku games which take up the theme of filial piety, the foremost norm in any Confucian society. By closely analyzing the texts on the game, we will try to come to a conclusion as to whether the attitude expressed in these games is one of merely reinforcing the current norms and values of the society or else of also "gambling" with them.

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