Saturday, March 10, 2007

Real Club Life Versus Virtual Club Life

Chiyodad brought up an interesting topic on his blog: Misconceptions about the decline of real-life Go clubs. This ties in with a friend telling me that his go club does NOT want a KGS room because 'Everyone will play on KGS and no one will come to club anymore.'

I will share my experience with our go club. A while ago, we decided to create a room on KGS as an extension of our club activities. At that time, we had only two members who were active on KGS, so we spent a lot of time staring at each other in our room. We got bored pretty fast, and started to invite friends. Slowly, the room started to fill up. Games were being played in the room. Pro games were being studied. Tsumego entertained us, and kept us out of trouble. New friendships were being formed.

During the same time, our real life club grew. When I started, there were only two members, so I boosted the membership by 50 % . A few months later, slowly more people started showing up at club meetings. I have seen the club grow from a tiny club, to a bigger and more active one. We used to play only one afternoon per week, now we play one day from 2pm to 8pm, and we often have Saturday afternoon study sessions. We still aren't a big club, but we now usually have six to ten players show up, which is a huge increase from two years ago.

Some of those new real life members have joined our KGS room, and others haven't. The KGS mostly has grown with 'virtual' members, we have a thriving room now, quite a difference from the two of us staring at each other two years ago :)

I have found the KGS room to be an enrichment to the real life club. I never felt the KGS room made people more likely to play online and less likely to come to club. Heck, we even have had some virtual members visit us in person, so it seems the other way around.

The virtual community we built in our KGS room is great, but none of us has contemplated not visiting the club anymore. There is a certain something to real life play with friends, which is very different from KGS play. The trash talking is easier, the body language can be read, the kibbitzers can join into the game talk. Not to mention that our game play often is being supported by excellent food.

I am thrilled with the way our KGS room has grown, and I am equally as thrilled with the way our real life go club has grown. It is beyond wonderful to have twice-weekly opportunity to get together with friends and play and study weiqi.

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