Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 6 years 2 days ago

1) What do you already know (or think you know) about the topic? Where did you learn these things?

Recreation and games are something that every civilization has no matter where they are from. The first people to discover farming were the Mesopotamians about 10,000 years ago. Now, with farming they needn’t worry about what the next meal was going to be with their new way of producing food. People began to have extra time they didn’t know what to do. Thus beginning the world of recreation where people could do hobbies such as sports games, crafts, art, instrument playing, and many others to satisfy their needs of passing time. Over the past 20 years, people’s activities and means of passing time have massively changed. Technologies, such as computers and phones have been able to keep us in touch with others to talk to. Others like tvs and gaming systems have taken over the old fashioned board games. Nowadays, people get bored much more easily needing to be constantly entertained. Ideas of recreation cross my mind often, which has led me into looking deeper into the issue. My own personal reading and schoolwork has taught me the founding of games and hobbies that the first settlers created. The difference in activities from the first settlers compared to humans today and the thought about the change have come mostly from my own observations and thoughts as well as some interesting books.

2) In general, what do you want to learn about this topic?

I feel there is much to explore on the topic of recreation/games. I want to look deeper into the differences between other cultures games. Does geography play a major effect on hobbies? Amount of time? Does climate also play a major effect on hobbies? Amount of time? Were there any previous colonizers/invaders that influenced a culture to do these activities/hobbies? Also, the development of games has changed greatly from 10,000 years ago to now and even 20 years ago to now. The older generations of Xizhou have most likely seen that change happen in their lifetime. The children’s games are probably much different from their parents and grandparents. The evolution of technology has made life easier giving children more time to play than to work. What is the common game the children and the elders play? Is it different? Has there been any change from this game when you were younger to now? How much time do you spend playing or doing your activity (children&elders)?

3) Take some time to build some background knowledge about the topic. Go online . . . go to the library . . . what general background information can you find about your topic now so that you can better understand what you are going to learn in Xizhou? No need for extensive notes, but do keep track of key ideas (and source information) in your Phase 1 workspace. (1 to 2 weeks)

Traditional Chinese games


~usually played by older women, sometimes men

~invented around Confucian time (although believed to have been invented in early 1800's)

~played by royals, no working class

~early 1900s-1920's Mahjong craze around the world, especially America

~common game around world with varying rules

Xiangqi (Chinese Chess):

~played by older men, one of the most common past time activities in China

~strategy game as military, need to capture general

~originated from India (related to chess game family)

~started being played around 600 BCE by emperors

~also known as "astronomical game" due to the board's river=milky way

Physcology of Play in China

Play is vital for one's childhood, it develops individuality, creativity, and uses imagination

Schools are spending too much time focusing on testing math and reading levels.

Why are we beocming more over achieving?

No child Left Behind act 2001, schools have focuse don cutting back on creative and play-like activities to focus on mathematics and literacy.

Chinese kids=8.6 hours/day at school, 12 hours/day in classroom

many kids enrolled in after school tutors and classes such as learning instrument like piano, Englsih practice, and Mathematics.

CYRC Survey~~ 4-10 children had someone oto play with


1) for Xiangqi--"History of Chess", "Facts on the Origin of Chinese Chess"

2) for Mahjong--"Mahjong History", "History of Mahjong"

3) for Physcology of Play in China--,, "China's Children too Busy to Play" China Daily

Phase #1

10 Major Questions: Recreation

  1. What is the popular game among elders in Xizhou? 
  2. Will Mahjong continue to be played and taught to younger generations?
  3. When was Mahjong first made/introduced to China? to Xizhou?
  4. At what is the common age to learn Mahjong? old and young?
  5. Why is Mahjong so popular?
  6. Why do the people enjoy play time?
  7. When do the people play Mahjong?
  8. Are there still ancient games that people play or do now from hundreds to even thousands of years ago?
  9. How much time is devoted to Mahjong?
  10. How has Mahjong influenced everyday life?

5) What are possible answers to these questions? 

  1. What is the popular game among children in Xizhou? Elders?
  2. Does the community value playtime (mainly for children)?
  3. How have games changed from the elders time to now due to the advances in technology?
  4. How much time is devoted to games/recreation?
  5. How have games/recreation influenced everyday life?

Most of my questions I can not answer now but may once in Xizhou. This is why I have grouped my questions so that the ones I need Xizhou for are to be answered later. 

  1. Did the cultural revolution play a role in games?
  2. Did the communist revolution play a role in games?
  3. Why do the people enjoy play time?

In all cultures and over time, communities/civilizations have enjoyed playing games for many reasons. One, it is something to pass your free time with when you have nothing to do. Two, it provides an outlet to relieve stress and everyday life to just have fun and enjoy yourself. Three, people meet new friends doing activities that are of common intrest to them and or do games for the purpose of hanging out with their friends. Four, it is something new to learn and master that you can develop and learn over the course of your whole life. These are just some of the main reasons as to why people might and or have play games and do spare time activities.

  1. Xizhou is a village in the wilderness and mountains, how does this affect the type of games played compared to a big city like Shanghai?

In Shanghai, most kids play electronic games like video and computer games. I think this is because being in a city their is more money which can buy more expensive games which usually are video or computer related. Also, there is almost an unlimited source of electricity which provides video to play these types of games.


6) What more do you need to know ahead of time to be able to dig deeper when we arrive in the village?

Background information is key to this so I can understand the fundamentals before digging deeper to get to the details. I want to learn about the overall value of play in Chinese culture and how it has changed over generations. Being in China, I have learned that play and creativity isn’t as important as academics. I want to know why this is and what has happened due to this mentality.

 Books and actual sit down research is not what I need to do, but instead ask people (locals) about their thoughts on play. The internet also has some good articles on recreation development over the years. Before the trip I just need to focus on basics of play. When I arrive at Xizhou, I can then get the scoop on if this is true and or what the locals have to say about it. 



Political impact on play


Items to consider during your month of exploration:

1. After gathering your data you may want to compare the impact of Chinese politics on play with the impact of Western politics on play in the U.S..
2. Make sure you experience play in Xizhou.


Hey guys, I'm Alex! I lived in Washington D.C, US for 11 years and have lived in Shanghai for almost 3 years now. I love to travel, eat, and learn about new things! I am here at Xizhou and loving it. The highlights are the kind people, the blue skies and starry nights, delicious food, and the outdoors. So far, thumbs up! It feels like it is going by too fast