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Students of Chinese Literature learn classical Chinese poetry with board games!

Students of the Department of Chinese Literature reinvented the classical game of Monopoly to take the players on a journey through the poetry of An-Shih Wang and Hsiu Ouyang, Chinese poets of the Northern Song era. Faculty of the Department of Chinese Literature at National Sun Yat-sen University: Associate Professor Chia-Lun Tu, Assistant Professor Chih-Wei Chung, and Assistant Professor Meng-Chien Wu jointly started a Classical Culture and Modern Life course, focusing on the design of board games. They tried to connect the wisdom and anecdotes of the classical culture with everyday modern life by working on such areas as language evolution, classical pieces of poetry and literature, and Chinese philosophy. The students designed four innovative board games: Poetry and Distantness (詩與遠方), Reciting poems (吟詩作對), Love at NSYSU (中生大事), and Jade Spear (玉戈). They also consider commercializing their work in the future for board game enthusiasts to learn about classical literature while having fun.

Poetry and Distantness was inspired by universally appreciated works left by a demoted Chinese literati. The game takes the players on a journey through the poetry of An-Shih Wang and Hsiu Ouyang. This version lets the players enjoy competition while learning about the biography of Chinese literati, their works, and writing style. Reciting Poems is based on the popular card game UNO. In the beginning, student of the Department of Chinese Literature Chieh-I Chang tried to incorporate all three elements of the course into this game, however, to make the game suitable for people of all ages, the working group decided to just focus on classical poems. This game allows players to get to know the features of the poetic style of Wei Wang and Hao-Jan Meng and compete in the creative reproduction of their style.

Love at NSYSU is an interesting dating-themed game, which purpose is to create emotional ties between the students and teachers of the Department of Chinese Literature. To create this board game, the students combined common classical quotations with what they were taught by the teachers. The students hope that the game will break the stereotypes about the students of Chinese Literature! The tense atmosphere of a battlefield, military espionage, logical challenges, and war strategies in the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period (770 to 221 BC ) make up the background of Jade Spear (玉戈). One of the authors of the game, student of the Department of Chinese Literature Wei-Chun Chien said that at the beginning he wanted to create a board game to play with his friends, so he brought out its interesting storyline. He also loves to draw; he put a lot of effort into the graphic design of the game.

This game focuses on rethinking the classic culture and its modern interpretation, and aims to come up with a new perspective on the dialogue between the classic and the modern, she said. The teacher of the course Chia-Lun Tu emphasized that by designing board games, the students can gain a deeper understanding of the classic Chinese culture, creatively reinvent its heritage, and explore and apply ancestors’ wisdom in modern life. The board game workshop was organized as part of the course. Lecturer of the Taiwan Association for Game Education and Associate Professor of the National University of Tainan Department of Ecoscience and Ecotechnology Dr. I-Chen Hsueh was invited to introduce them to the basics of modern board game design and provide them with guidance. Dr. Hsueh and the faculty of the Department of Chinese Literature stimulated students’ creativity and their sensitivity to classic culture, gave them new ideas and tips for their works. “I hope to see the vivid essence of classic culture emerging from students’ cooperation”.
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