March 5, 2022
I’m currently obsessed with mahjong.
There’s something about the tiles’ feel and the flow of the game that is very comforting.
I convinced a couple of friends to try and learn it with me, and one of them had a small epiphany about the culture. This might be a little highminded or pretentious to say but the appeal of games like this is more to facilitate conversation and social interaction than the game itself. The low amount of mental and physical energy can largely put you on autopilot letting you just shoot the shit in the meantime.
Another friend of mine remarked once that he didn’t like most traditional card games. He said their rules felt arbitrary and required a lot of memorization to even start playing. It can be disheartening to be told “that’s just how it’s always worked” when asking rules questions. This was especially difficult with cribbage which unlike poker or a trick-taking game, made the patterns a little harder to intuit.
While I’m empathetic, the history and legacy of the game are part of the appeal to me. I play a lot of live service-type video games where almost every given month the metagame may have completely shifted. It’s mostly due to age I guess. It’s not like cards haven’t changed dramatically throughout their lifetime, but being able to just find troves of resources of them online that is consistent is a godsend.