Human Sized Strategy Games


Would you want to be a game piece in a large game? Robin Basselin and Ryan Geertsma describe two strategy games played with people as game pieces.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Robin Basselin.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A young boy stands next to a game board. He is ready to play a game. Usually, a game board - or playing surface - is small. Game pieces are usually smaller than a person’s hand. But this young boy stands next to a huge game board. The game pieces are as big as an adult. The boy moves to stand on a square. His friends also stand on the board. They begin telling the game pieces where to move. These children are playing a game. In this game, the pieces come to life. They fight each other in battle, like a real army.

Voice 2 

This story is from the children’s book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry Potter and his friends are playing a game of Wizard Chess. But in this game, the characters must play as the chess pieces!

Voice 1 

Many people have read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. They have enjoyed this story about a human sized chess game.  But, many people may not know that human chess is a real game! It does not look like the version in Harry Potter. But people all over the world play human chess, and other human-sized strategy games. Today’s Spotlight is on human sized strategy games.

Voice 2 

People play human sized strategy games all over the world. They play two different versions. In Asia, they play Xiangqi. In the United Kingdom and the United States, they play chess. The two games are similar. In both, players use careful strategy to win. But the pieces and game boards are very different.

Voice 1

In Vietnam and Japan, people play human Xiangqi at festivals and holiday celebrations. The games celebrate the culture of the country. They encourage people from different areas of the country to work together for the game. Poor people and rich people and people from farms and cities all play together.

Voice 2 

For these festival games, organizers plan very carefully. There are three important people in human Xiangqi. The first is the referee. The referee organizes the game. She helps choose the players. There are 32 players in all. The referee gives each of the players a position, or place on the board. The pieces represent parts of the Chinese army. In human Xiangqi, the players wear shirts with the symbols for these pieces. The referee watches to be sure the players are obeying the rules.

Voice 1 

The other two important people are the kings. The kings - or generals - usually wear traditional clothing for the game. They sit in chairs on either end of the game space. These kings tell their armies what to do. They manage the game. They tell the players to move to. The king also usually provide a meal for their team. This is one way to bring people from the community together.

Voice 2 

The game of Xiangqi is very complex and difficult. It takes a lot of skill and study to play it well. To be a king in Xiangqi, you must know the game well. But the players do not always have to know how to play the game. If you can listen to directions, you can play the game.

Voice 1

In human Xiangqu, the game board is painted on the ground. The board is a large square. Lines go all across the board. These lines form large squares. But in the middle of the board, there is a wide empty space. This space is called “The River.” On opposite ends of the board, the lines connect to form a space called “The Palace.” “The Palace” is where the king sits.

Voice 2

The goal of human Xiangqi is to capture the other team’s king. Once the king is captured, the game is over. But the pieces must follow their individual rules. They can only move in special ways. For example, if a person is playing the Elephant piece, she cannot cross the River or middle part of the board. If they are playing a soldier - or pawn – though, they can cross the river. The kings must remember all of these rules while playing.

Voice 1 

In Vietnam, Xiangqi is an important sport. Many international Xiangqi champions come from Vietnam. Millions of people in the country play it. There are schools for learning how to play Xiangqi well. Human Xiangqi is a way to celebrate that culture. It is a way to include more people in the game.

Voice 2

You may have heard another Spotlight program about the history of chess. Chess is different from Xiangqi. Instead of elephants and cannons, there are knights and bishops. The board does not have a river or a palace. And the pieces move differently. But the goal is the same – to capture the other team’s king.  People mostly play human chess in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Voice 1

Like in Vietnam, people in the United States use human chess to work together. Usually, people play human chess just for fun. But in New York City, one teacher is using it to stop violence. Anthonyquiame Jackson-Bey teaches in Public School 36.  In this school, many students are at risk for violence. This area is poor, and there is a lot of crime. Older children often join violent gangs. These groups attack each other.

Voice 2 

In September 2011, a student from a school in the area was killed. This violent event affected Jackson-Bey. He wanted to help young students learn to work together. He recognized that young students usually only made friends within their neighbourhood, the area where they live. So, students from different neighborhoods often fought each other.

Voice 1 

Jackson-Bey wanted to change this attitude. So he developed “Chess Lords.” In Chess Lords, students from different neighborhoods play human chess together. The students learn strategy.  But they also learn how to work together on teams. Instead of fighting against each other, the children now work to protect each other.

Voice 2 

Xiangqi and chess are strategy games usually played by only two individuals.  However, human Xiangqi and chess combine the strategy of these games with team sport.  It is this team play that helps create community and also teaches people how to better work together. Maurice Campbell is a student from the “Chess Lords” program. He told the news organization DNA Info:

Voice 3 

“Human chess helps me in school. If I see a person attacking another person, I try to protect them. I can be like a knight or a bishop.”

Voice 1 

What do you think about human chess? Have you ever played it? You can email us your comments and opinions at radio@radioenglish.net. Or you can leave a comment on the script page of the program on our website.

Voice 2 

The writer and producer of this program was Dianna Anderson. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again and read it on the internet, at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called “Human Sized Strategy Games.”

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

What do you think about human chess? Have you ever played it?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
nature187_vn
said on May 06, 2013

I really proud of my country Vietnam which one of countries being known through game popular on the world that is chess.I know a little about chess,it’s very exciting .In great memories my childhood I always play chess with my brother…I think chess helping us relaxing and comfortable after hard working…beside it connect people together with another person…Thanks for sharing this meaningful story!

Avatar Spotlight
luckybach
said on June 10, 2014

i love playing chess. Thanks Spotlight for this program. Luckybach from Vietnam

Avatar Spotlight
nguyenthengoc
said on June 10, 2014

Playing any games is showing his strategy in the life, especially in army strategy. In Vietnam, going through thousands historic year, Vietnamese has withstood many aggressors. But in Vietnamese people’s mind, they never wants war occurring, just peace. So playing the human Xiangqi game, it expresses the way Vietnamese has united against aggressors. It is the reason why the human Xiangqi loved in Vietnam, specially in folk culture.
I’m proud of going up, Yeah Vietnam.

Avatar Spotlight
Mr. Lee
said on September 24, 2015

Human Sized Game looks like very exciting game than actual sized game. Playing Human Sized Game need to more people and huge place. So the playing human sized game is not easy to play. But the playing Human Sized Game sounds like extremely exciting. If I have a chance to play like that game I would also happy and don`t forget about that moment.

Avatar Spotlight
Minh Chau
said on September 28, 2015

I remember in Xiangqi, there is horse, not elephant.