Monday, February 19, 2007

Waiting for the Celestial Pig

She's Uma (my sister, Wandering Carl). I'm John (Takarific Carl). These characters dance exactly like their compatriots in "Pulp Fiction". Note our pet boar in the lower left.

Yesterday was the Spring Festival in the Chinese New Year celebration. The on-line role-playing game I play, Guild Wars, has been featuring a 3-day series of special playing opportunities for the holiday culminating in a special Sunday festival with virtual gifts of rice wine, bean cakes, fireworks, blue soft drinks, party hats, and a tiny little pet boar in honor of the year of the boar.

There's the celestial pig making the rounds of the 5 chefs.

In the game, we have to gather together a series of esoteric ingredients from game areas and turn them over to chefs at the appointed time so they may prepare five dishes to garner the appreciation of the celestial boar. The boar is a ghostly golden pig who gives us a holiday mask (shown above on the screen shot), 16 red bags of goodies, and the tiny pet boar. If we fail to offer all the ingredients, he turns us all into boars and offers fewer gifts. He runs around the compound for awhile then disappears back from whence he came. This is all much more fun to witness and be a part of than to read about, trust me.

The truth is that I wasn't even aware of the Chinese New Year celebration and when it occurred until this year because I don't know anyone of Chinese descent who observes it as a holiday and it's not celebrated in Japan (at least not outside of districts like the "Chinatown" area of Yokohama and I've never been there). It strikes me that it's a good thing that cross-cultural awareness gets woven into a game in the way that it has by this celebration.

The section of the game where it all takes place is a mish-mash of Asian cultural elements. There are parts that appear Japanese and others that appear Chinese (though there's definitely more Chinese culture than Japanese). I wonder if those who are from Asian cultures would be pleased to see their cultural elements portrayed in this fashion or if they'd be appalled at the way it's all dashed together in a mixed salad of Asian elements.



the lions look funny =P

Shari said...

I concur. ;-) I didn't think they looked like lion's at all!