IT students create a digital version of Okinawan chess

IT students create a digital version of Okinawan chess

Tatsuya Gushiken (left) and Kanako Ide, who created a digital version of Okinawan traditional chess, called chuzi.

February 29, 2012 Hiroko Sato of the Ryukyu Shimpo

Three students of the Naha branch of the Human Academy who were fascinated by chunzi, or Okinawan traditional chess, have created a digital version in which players use a touch-screen display controller. Anyone, even children, can enjoy this contemporary version of the game of chunzi. Sixteen characters matching the role of each piece, or tama, were created. A character appears when players touch each piece on the screen, making the game more fun to play. The screen indicates the direction of the grids in which players can move their pieces, so a beginner can easily learn how to play.

The students want to make chunzi popular, saying, “Even without being that familiar with the rules you improve by playing the game.”

Anyone interested can have a go at the graduate exhibition of the Academy being held at Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum in Naha until March 4.

Kanako Ide of the Academy created the characters and Tatsuya Gushiken and Kento Okuhira designed the program for the 3D images.

Akira Nakamura, head of the Chuzi Association, introduced the game to the students last summer when he happened to visit the Academy. Enthralled by chunzi, Ide decided to create a digital version as the topic of her graduation project, and called upon Gushiken and Okuhira to help her. Ide said, “I am really pleased that we have been able to create this digital version of the game of chunzi.” Gushiken and Nakamura said, “We want people who do not know the rules of chunzi to be able to enjoy the game.”

Nakamura commented, “I hope that the digital version of chuzi attracts young people and helps to encourage exchange between generations.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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