I think Go is a pretty amazing game, despite the fact that I suck at it. I really like it - if I had the intellectual horsepower (or basic strategy) to be somewhat competitive, I'd like it even more. If you don't know how to play, here's a good Go overview over at Wikipedia.
I'm not sure how this thought came into my mind... I guess lately I've been reading Seth Godin's marketing books and thinking about marketing in a pure, don't worry about the product just how to sell it sort of way. Actually, Seth talks about innovation in the product as a main selling point (Purple Cow, free prize inside) but much of what he's talking about can be applied to a 3,000 year old game as well. Think about Go, not as a just a game, but as a marketing opportunity with a global audience.
Imagine creating starter packs with different board sizes, an accompanying website and mobile application where you can play against anyone any time, and jazzed up graphic packaging and tied-in merchandise. Don't you think it's a waste for all those kids to be wasting their time on Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh when they could be dedicating their brain power to a game with history and challenge?
Think about it - the little playing pieces are cooooool. Instead of being just little pebbles, they could be "magic stones" or something representing the forces of good and evil battling their way across the universe! You could add cards as well to the game - say you had a small board, the cards could determine "starting positions" for the players, so that they could get into the game more quickly, and of course those starting positions would be geared towards teaching strategy. Then, once you've got playing pieces, boards, cards, mascots and the accompanying half-hour cartoon, you can then branch out into movies and big events. It could be a phenomenon!
The thing that's cool is you start the little kids out on a little 9x9 learning board, then move up to 12x12 and 19x19 later on... so there's an easy progression. And there's no computer programs which dominate this game yet. So it's a pure game of skill between players, not something that GoMaster 2000 can kick your ass on easily. Kids can play this game for their entire life and participate in games all over the world... it's not something they'd grow out of, but rather grow into. As they get older, they lose the marketing and just focus on the game itself, the more older players, the more young kids could get into it, etc. It's a positive cycle.
Not only is Asian culture becoming more and more mainstream and popular (I saw shelves and shelves of Manga at Borders the other day!), but Chess has lost a lot of its alure since IBM's computer beat Kasparov. It's time for another game and Go is the heir apparent in the Western world. Think about the opportunities... from the youngsters to the homeless guys playing in the park, it could be a huge cultural shift!
Think of all the opportunities a new pasttime could create? The TV shows and the magazines and the contests and buzz! Think Magic the Gathering was big! Wait until every 11 year old in the country is crazy about Go! But unlike the copyrighted card game, Go is an Open Gaming Platform on which to build! Create you characters and guide books and clubs and all that! It'd be huge!
What do you think?