Chess, Go and Aesthetics
I meant to write this a few months ago when I was exploring just how much aesthetics affect gaming and particularly chess. To look a lot further into the topic I thought that examining an entirely different game, Go is worthwhile.
Why Go? Let's first look at feudal Japanese society to understand why. A samurai was totally committed to his clan and would fight and maybe die for it. Dying was not the primary goal of combat. It was to live and enjoy victory. That meant maximizing the samurai's fighting skills.
What they found was that the body did not always react in combat the way that training programmed it. Emotions, mental lapses, etc. were in the way. Through various experiences the samurai learned that meditation would train the mind to simply accept the situation of great danger and allow the body to react as it was trained to do.
Go requires an enormous amount of concentration (as does chess) and can be used as a means of meditative training. It also provides the sensation of encountering a skilled opponent. So Go became the game of the samurai class and was also reserved for them. It was a symbol of status as well.
As a meditative activity Go players very consciously incorporated awareness of aesthetics into Go player. Everything was designed to enhance the meditative experience as well as game play. As such Go sets and Go rooms are examples of artistry and positive experience.
The dark roasted blend website has an excellent examples of the philosophy and style of Go sets and rooms.
For further Go reading: