Mama Jong: Open Letter to Mahjong

This week I read an open letter to Europe. I did not know that was a thing we could do! Writing unbidden without questions?! Revolutionary!

I am surprised that the MSM of Riichi Reporter was not chosen as the unveiling of an opinion of such apparent import. But hey-ho. I don’t think the language would get past the censors–believe me, I’ve tried. Yet I remain inspired, so I will write my own letter to mahjong and Europe and whoever else is reading this fake news rag. (Hey Mom!)

Our skills are not the problem.

You may think that the only reason that riichi mahjong isn’t popular is because we don’t have four serious men in suits scowling at a magical mechanical table playing VERY SERIOUS mahjong.

It’s simply not true. First let’s separate the two concepts of personal growth and community growth. Personal growth is something we should all surely be working on, but the magic word there is “personal.”

I’m not saying put down that Daina Chiba book right now and completely revert to only building half-flushes and pon palaces. All I’m saying is be honest that what you’re doing isn’t selfless.

You improving your skill to God-like is not going to make EMA great again. And taking that a step further and demanding separate events for those who have reached some hallowed Tenhou lobby is in fact going to achieve the opposite. It may make a handful of elites feel special, and they can all enjoy patting each other on the back with the self-congratulatory smugness usually reserved for populist politicians when the swamp of beginner players has been drained.

What you are in danger of doing is building walls to participation. Dividing the community into those you believe have the skills and the have nots.

Before you scream “lock Mama Jong up,” it is actually in your own selfish interests to place priority on community growth over personal growth. The former supports the latter.

If we had more players, then we’d have a market. With a market it means rather than having to beg for materials on street corners in Takadanobaba, (weeb reference) the businesses would come to us! They would want to help make sure we could get what we wanted. Honestly, in 2019, I’m baffled that I have to explain the mechanics of consumer capitalism to you all

Just like Facebook, we need to build the player base (raw product) and then sell them out for what we want (the transaction).

And don’t whinge that it’s not possible. Blah blah blah. Let me give you the horrifying reality: Many many many more people play American Mahjong and I know what you all think about that “deplorable” version of mahjong. But you know what they do right? They actually teach people in a welcoming positive environment.

So go forth and multiply. It’s honestly our only hope.

Mama Jong

Mama Jong has been playing mahjong since there were only three winds.