Culture differences between Chinese and American in play—especially on two concepts “disguise ability” and “historical affection”

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Culture differences between Chinese and American in play—especially on two concepts “disguise ability” and “historical affection”

Chen-Hsuan Huang

Play is day and night; summer and winter; war and peace. The attitude toward play is even quite diverse between individuals, however, in this article, I want to focus on two main points showing the difference of play between American culture and Chinese culture. The first is about the concept “disguise ability” and the second is about “historical affection”.

First, about disguise ability, people in China sometimes disguise their ability when meet the weaker opponent while Americans like an overwhelming win. I perceive this difference especially when I come to the football game UT V.S. Austin Peay. It was Saturday afternoon. There were approximately a hundred thousands of people coming to this game. This is part of American culture that lots of people go to a sport game together. In this game, Tennessee’s players dominate the court. They get 42:0 lead in the first half. Audiences are boiling. People yelled and celebrated each time UT got advantages. Besides, the cheer squad did push-up and flip for every tough downs UT made. However, a question came to my mind—why do those people find this kind of game attractive, I mean, striking a relatively weak opponent. To answer this question, I interviewed twelve people. Six are Americans and six are Chinese.

About the interview, there are five of six Americans know Austin Peay is a weak team before they came to this game. Still, they want to watch this game because they want to see a big win. Besides, one of them suggested that I should get drunk before the game so that I can enjoy the fun of massacre. In contrast, those six Chinese were bored by this game and they didn’t know about Austin Peay before they came. This is important because the result shows that there exist a cultural difference between Chinese and American.

Consider the game as an analogy of war. Players move, find space, and rush into the opponents’ fort. It is obvious that you need to strike your opponent as much as you can. Otherwise, you may give your opponent self-confidence, which will affect the next time you meet each other. Besides, an overwhelming win is not only safe but also shows that you have extraordinary skills. Americans like superman. They want to see how vast the difference is between the great person and his or her opponent. Nevertheless, Chinese Culture, on the contrary, views the war as a game. For example, there is a story in “Romance of the Three Kingdoms (One of the most famous novels)”1 that Zhuge Liang captured a king and liberated him seven times. He really “played” the war. This story not only portrayed how wise a great person can be but also pointed out what a great person will be. In Chinese Culture, the greatest person will always play as weak as their opponent, or even lose deliberately by a meticulous plan. It’s according to the belief that people are growing but in different stages. Great person and genius are just a few stages ahead of the others. Their exceptive ability is to help people, not to hurt people’s self-confidence. Therefore Chinese will never “win by a lot” unless he or she is not strong enough to “play” a horse and horse game. Another example is in the comic books “The chess player under moon”2. In this story, the main role (also the best player) sometimes plays chess to form a specific picture (because he knows what his opponent will do so that he can make pictures on the chess board, for sure, he don’t care win or lose). This is also a good example of how great person play in Chinese culture. To summarize, Chinese like to play for harmony and usually disguise their abilities (or use it in another way) while Americans like to show off their extraordinary skills directly and strike their opponents a lot.

The second concept is about “historical affection”. The most famous board game in China is “Legend of the Three Kindoms (LTK)”3, which almost copy the same rules from Italian board game “Bang”. (According to Wiki, LTK is still being regarded as a copy-cat of “Bang” in English-speaking countries, due to the similarities between the basic cards and tool cards. However, LTK has managed to entrench its position through the game's strong relations to ROTK. ) Let’s set aside the copyright issues briefly. However, why is Bang ranked 522 on BBG4 while LTK is the most popular board game in China (Almost every Chinese played this game)? Besides, even if you give Chinese a box set of “Bang” for free, I believe they will still choose to play LTK. The main reason is just because LTK have strong relations to the history of Three Kindoms. And Chinese love the history and wanted to play the game with the historical link. Another example is the computer game “Records of the Three Kindoms”5. Frankly speaking, it’s not a challenging enough game. Several players said they can finish the game (means conquer the whole China in the game) in one week or even in one day, however, they like to play it again and again, and try to use different roles to accomplish the same thing. (As a player, I know there is no technically difference when you use the different role) What they gain in the game is the special historical link to the specific hero in the history. That’s what I mean about historical affection. There is still another case of a famous online game, the Warcraft, also be made a Three Kindoms version.6 Based on all of above examples, Chinese people like to play a game dressed with history (Especially the Three Kindoms). So even if “Bang” has the same framework with LTK, people don’t like Bang. That’s also why I think it should be legally justified for LTK to copy Bang’s framework because LTK infuses the historical affection into the game, which is the most intriguing part of the game and the reason why it is the most popular game in China.

In conclusion, about the disguise ability, I would suggest Americans to watch a Chinese game (which is played by a strong team and a weak team) and try to distinguish which team is stronger. About the historical affection, I would say that if American entertainment enterprises want to develop Chinese market. They need to read the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and understand why lots of popular games are link to this historical novel.








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