The “Chinese Banquet Baijiu Toast” video game needs to be made. (Indie game developers, this idea is free. Hurry up and go start a Kickstarter campaign!)
I was having dinner last week with former AllSet intern Parry and current AllSet intern Ben, and we started talking about baijiu (白酒) drinking strategies. I told them about my friend Derek who kind of made himself into an authority on baijiu by drinking way more of the foul liquid than most white people ever have. And then we started talking about baijiu toasts at Chinese dinners. I told them about my experience in Baoding last CNY, and how our hosts had brought “baijiu assassins” to bring down my father-in-law, who’s kind of legendary in the bajiu-drinking department. And I told them about some of the different strategies that are used in big banquet situations where the baijiu flows freely.
What are these strategies, you ask? I’m not talking about cheap “drink water instead of baijiu” tricks, I’m talking about respectable above-board strategies for these drinking events. Some basic ones:
1. Ganging Up: Individuals go toast one particular person, one by one, in rapid succession. That way each “attacker” only has one shot of baijiu, but the “victim” has many, with no time to recover.
2. Table Takedown: Similar to “ganging up,” but you send one person from your table to toast an entire table (everyone at that table must do a shot). When that person from your table returns, you send another person from your table to toast the whole table again. Repeat ad nauseam (and I do mean nauseam!).
3. Empty Table: If things get hot and heavy and there are enough tables at the banquet, it might be wise for everyone at the table to fan out and do multiple table takedowns (or ganging up) at the same time. That way there’s no one left at your table to get taken down! This is also a good time to go to the bathroom, but beware: if you seem to just be running from your drinking duties, you’re just asking to get ganged up on.
Now rarely is there really this much strategizing going on, I think (although there certainly was that dark night in Baoding!). But it makes me think that this could make a cool strategy game. It all reminds me of an RTS (real-time strategy) game like Starcraft.
Could some indie game developer make the Starcraft of Chinese Baijiu Toasts? That would be cool… As long as I don’t really have to drink any baijiu to play!
That’s right, the PS2’s manufactured in China cost more, and according to the owner the quality isn’t as good. I asked the owner why. The conversation went something like this:
> Me: Why are the ones made in China more expensive? Shouldn’t they be cheaper?
> Owner: Sony is Japanese! The Japanese always do this! They make good stuff and sell it to the USA, then they sell all the crappy electronics in China, for higher prices than the good stuff sells for in the USA! Why do you think we hate the Japanese?
> Me: Ummm, I thought that had something to do with historical events…
> Owner: No, this is why!
A very “Shanghai moment,” that.
The imported controllers are more expensive than locally manufactured ones, though. The owner highly recommends them, as the locally manufactured ones break/wear out too easily.
In that shop, pirated PS2 games go for 5 RMB each! I remember when I was a teenager I had to mow quite a few lawns to earn the money I needed to buy the NES cartridges I was dying to have. Nowadays, kids in Shanghai can get the newest video games for pocket change. The cost of the system itself is a bit prohibitive, though.
While I was in the shop, there was a high school boy in there seeking out the owner with all the anxiety of a parent going to visit a sick child in the hospital. It seems his mom got so fed up with his excessive game playing that she picked up his PS2 and smashed it against the ground. The owner said he could actually fix it! Meanwhile, the kid, in desperate need of his video game fix, was returning to the shop every few hours to inquire about the status of his precious PS2.
One of the games the owner was recommending was God of War. Now, I pretty much outgrew video games in college (except for the occasional game of StarCraft or original Alien Hominid), but this game had the magic to draw me completely back in. At least for a little while. There’s just one word for this game: stunning. (Also shockingly violent — not for the kiddies!) Greek mythology has never been so fun (even if it is a bit off).
If you know me, you surely know about my staunch anti-piracy stance. All this rampant piracy in China should not be supported.
But yeah, I’ve been playing quite a bit of PS2 lately.
I am finally back in Shanghai today. It has been a very full past two weeks.
I like the Seoul airport. It has good food, and a nice internet cafe (or “Internet Plaza,” as they call it) for US$3 per hour. I used that one on the way to the USA, but this time on the way back my girlfriend and I found the transit lounge (it’s up one floor), which offers free internet access. Nice computers, too.
I also experienced Korea’s most beloved of televised competitions: the Starcraft competition. Pretty crazy. I remember when I first arrived in China in 2000 Starcraft was still pretty popular, but I don’t see it on many screens in the wangba these days (although, admittedly, I don’t find myself in Chinese wangba much anymore). China has moved onto other games, like WoW (speaking of which, check this ad out). Korea is not nearly as fickle as China; it has remained steadfast in its obsession despite the fact that Starcraft is already 7 years old.
I have always liked Starcraft, and I still play a round from time to time. I think it’s my favorite computer game ever. But I still don’t think I would cry on national television if I lost a Starcraft competition. I guess I just don’t understand Korea.
It’s been raining for days. That’s one of the drawbacks of living here in Hangzhou — the weather is not always great. There are times in the fall and spring when it rains for weeks, practically nonstop. Well, no sunshine anyway. That can really get you down. Fortunately, for the past 2 weeks or so I’ve been really busy trying to get my site finished, and now all the guys here are getting (back) into Starcraft, so we have stuff to do indoors. Now if only they didn’t kick us out of the office at 10pm every night…