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Chinese Culture >> Chinese Society Traditions >> Mahjong

History of Mahjong

Mahjong is a surprisingly popular game. Actually, that's a wee-bit of an understatement. Born in China, Mahjong is a game that entwines skill, strategy and luck in a unique way. Similar to other games, like dominoes, Mahjong utilizes the use of titles which are combined in attempts to complete the player's hand. Sound simple? It isn't. Sound addictive? Oh, it is.

Mahjong was a hip pastime before the Internet was even invented. Come to think of it, Mahjong was a pretty hip game even before the automobile was invented. In fact, mahjong was so popular with the Chinese folks, and later the globe, that it managed to survive longer than perhaps any other game in the history of the world. Chinese myth tells us that Mahjong was created by Confucius himself in, or round, 500 B.C. Now, whether or not this is true, is anybody's guess. But it does lend a certain air of sophistication, to any game, to suggest that Confucius himself while away the hours playing it, in between bouts of delivering traditional Chinese philosophy.

But watch out! With the invention of the Internet, and much later the online video game, Mahjong has become more popular than even Confucius would have thought possible. The chance to play games, especially classic games, in the comfort of one's own home has caused a monstrous resurgence in many older games. Games like Mahjong, thanks to the World Wide Web, are now reaching people, and age groups, that it never did before.

A recent mahjong game, released by Jenkatgames dot com, entitled "Mahjongg," combines an exciting, new-age sophistication to the ancient puzzle game. Basically, the core elements of Mahjong are completely intact. It's just that now the game is intertwined with an enjoyable coffee shop motif. The tile patterns are arranged into amusing shapes that complement the coffee theme. As play goes along, the player will advance from level to level, revealing new boards, and new challenges.

Mahjongg manages to succeed in an area where very few of the recently re-imagined classic games can. Mahjongg allows players to feel the thrill and energy of a video game, while providing the key elements of the classic game it represents. Mahjong may be popular, but never was it capable of reaching a mass audience like it is now.

And while many other games like solitaire, dominos, and various classic card games have all made the leap to the online game market, none have done so as triumphantly as mahjong's transformation into Mahjongg. Because, after all, a classic game is still a classic game. And the greatest achievement a game designer can hope for when re-creating these legendary games, would be the intelligence to not alter, or change any of the key elements that made the game such a classic to begin with. Jenkatgames has done a great job of not turning Confucius' favorite pastime into "new Coke."

Mahjong has managed to stay around for several centuries, and it will no doubt be around for several more. To those of you already been bitten by the Mahjong bug, this comes as ancient news. But to those of you unfamiliar with China's greatest pastime I implore you to take some time today and play a game or two. It sure beats the tar out of whatever is on Television.

About the Author

Lance Hemenway has been writing about free online games at Check out the free game Cafe Mahjongg at and free downloadable games at