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Online Mahjong Is For Competition, Rather Than For Communication

In virtual worlds of online games, people often compete against other players by using various items, such as virtual swords, magic skills, automobiles, or spacecrafts. In some games they might use virtual cards or slot machines.

But in some games, people use mahjong tiles for competition.

Online mahjong games are nothing new. Many game portals such as Hangame provide mahjong game. They typically include chat and avatar services, promoting communication among players. They are expected to chat during games, and the feeling of community makes them "addicted" to the game.

Something different is going on in Japan, with contrasting approaches, and contrasting results.

One was "Live-Jong," an online mahjong game with live chat feature. In "Live-Jong," the players played mahjong with female players, talking with them through live chat. These female players were paid by the game company and asked to host customers, mainly males. But this business model was costly, and thus required substantial customer base. The game falied to meet the requirement, and the game company ended the service as of May 16.

Another is "Maru-jan2," which has attracted more than 30,000 mahjong enthusiasts to membership as of the end of May. The game was developed by Signal Talk Corp. A distinctive characteristic of Maru-Jan2 is its dedication to mahjong play. The game tries hard to literally replicate what we do at a mahjong house. The board and tiles look so real, and the sound (using digital sampling) is different depending on how you put tiles on the board. A player pays 80-150 points (1 point = 1 yen) for each game, and the winner of the game (1 of 4 players) is exempted from the payment. This is usual system for real mahjong houses and makes the players motivated enough. In addition, unlike ordinary online mahjong games, Maru-jan2 has no chat feature. Since Japanese people are relatively more shy, chatting (especially among males) is sometimes rather burdensome. These players want competition rather than communication. For communication purpose, the game provides a feature to record logs to share with other players. Players can analyze and learn what he did and how to improve.

What we want in virtual worlds of online games is different according to game, players, and the nature of virtual community. Researchers and professionals often say that community is a key feature of online game services. But the contrasting results of these online mahjong games tell us that community does not always accompany communication.

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Comments

These games doesnt allow/encourage community creation probably. Game character also has very bold influence on whether players want or dont communicate with each other. This articles looks very vague resemblance to analysis. This is typical for this blog. Sorry.

Posted by: EQ2 Gold | February 18, 2006 02:25 AM

Mahjong game?not good at in playing it,but wanna to try it as required.

Posted by: wow_blog | April 24, 2006 11:49 AM

MMO RPG preferred.more news related should be better,as wish...

Posted by: love_simulation | April 24, 2006 12:00 PM

being for competition rather than for communication?i dont applaud it strongly.more for the reason that japanese people are relatively more shy!just unbelievable.

Posted by: Venus | April 24, 2006 12:12 PM

i agree with EQ2Gold

socializing is part of roleplaying but not part of maa jan. do you try to socialize with a total stranger you play online man jan (or chess) with?
also, you have to concentrate on the game.

Posted by: meep | June 03, 2006 01:04 AM

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