I think I just found heaven on Earth in Second Life!
...If that's not enough of a catch-phrase to spark your attention, I really wouldn't know what is. But being honest now, I'm fairly certain that other people may not agree with my idea of heaven on earth, but as an avid iGo/Baduk/Weiqi fan, this place is certainly hitting everything I love centre stage. Which isn't hard, you know, when I really do adore Go that much. Not that I can play well, mind you, but I find it a masterful game far more challenging than chess. Strategy? That's a sense my brain is missing in spades (I should regale my readers on the first time I played chess and my uncle held me in check for twenty moves before he grew sick of me trying to figure out what was going on and checkmated me just to end the game), and I'm not in any way good at Go...
But I can certainly admire the game. I have a set at home, even, although the wooden board is thin and the stones are actually plastic.
Anyone who knows me will understand that when I tend to get bored (usually when I'm attempting to procrastinate for something else), I'll start surfing destination guides. There's a reason I have a blog for beautiful places in Second Life, and that's because I enjoy beautiful places immensely -- but usually my love of beautiful places on Second Life and my love for other things... oh, say, video games and board games and general fandom, don't tend to coincide. So imagine my (extremely pleasant) surprise when I saw a quick ad for the Kido Go Club on Second Life.
I have never, never imagined that I would find a Go Club on Second Life. I don't even know why! The concept just never jumped into my mind before, so when I read about Kido being (straight from the ad) "a place to play, learn and teach the game of Go. With many boards, monthly organized tournaments, prizes and more", I couldn't believe my eyes!
And not only that -- this sim is genuinely beautiful. The Japanese architecture is stunning, actually, creating a landscape of peace and tranquility for people to ease their minds into challenging battles and training your brain to utilize its full potential. Maybe it's a bit melodramatic of me to put it that way, but I know that I certainly have a hard time writing if the environment is being distracting, and I'm going to assume that it's ten times worse when trying to learn a game as challenging as Go.
Maybe I'll actually try to join the club... speak with some people about it. What I can say is that I'm certainly impressed by this place, and if it really does have lessons, I'll definitely make time to join in!
Now that I've waxed poetic about this, some people may ask... so what's Go? iGo (in Japanese), known as Baduk in Korean and Weiqi in Chinese, is a strategy board game pre-dating chess. Akin to chess in that it is extremely intelligence-driven, Go does not have the amount of restrictions chess puts on all its pieces... instead, it is a game of divide and conquer -- you place your pieces in any manner to surround and kill off groups of your enemy, and is infinitely complex because of its lack of restrictions. There is no one king for you to take out, there is no easy way to win -- you have to win not just a battle, but an entire war in order to win this game.
Your board is a 19 by 19 grid, and you place your stones (either black or white) on the crosshairs of the grid to claim territory. What you want to do is claim as much territory as possible while battling back your opponent and attempting to claim their territory while defending your own. Go is a game that employs great foresight and recollection: you must remember your plans with every move, attempt to delve into your opponent's thoughts, pre-plan various strategies to employ 5, 10, or even 20 moves in the future, and also understand that your focus can not be on one sole target... in a battle for one corner of the board, you may lose the entire game if you don't pay attention to your opponent's strategy on distracting you and claiming more territory than you can afford to give up.
But then, I'm rather terrible at explaining partially do to how bad I am at this game and due to my overwhelming enthusiasm, so I'll just link anyone who wishes to know more to the wikipedia page for it.