The Chinatown Game Begins

I’m in Professor Eileen Chow’s Chinatowns class this semester. We’ve talked about everything from laundrymen sexualities to Chinese exclusion acts in the US. Our final project combines everything we’ve learned about community building and storytelling in “The Chinatown Game”, a fifty person roleplaying game similar to Avalon or Mafia.

The story begins with the disappearance of Yelin “Laura” Song, a UCLA student and current Miss LA Chinatown. Her family has created a foundation in her name that will award a $10 million dollar grant to the faction with the proposal that best honors her memory and contributes to the community. These factions range from the Chinatown neighborhood association (a cheeky real estate agent, restaurant owners with potential Triad ties, etc.) to the US-China business council and the Chi Delta Theta sorority sisters that Laura was part of. There’s six factions total and many neutral players and potential suspects including Laura’s boyfriend, roommate, aunt and uncle, and Mayor Garcetti.

You can also be a journalist, and I volunteered for the role of The Daily Bruin, the UCLA campus newspaper. During our in-class forum, I live-streamed speeches and interviewed various UCLA members. I have to say though that I’ve had the most fun on social media.

Stephen Lim, LACNA real estate agent
I shamelessly stole their logo and banner

People create convincing profiles. Very convincing profiles. I think I made mine a bit too convincing and ended up getting in a bit of trouble with Twitter haha.

I didn’t have the “Fake” in my name before

To be honest, I earned it. In addition to replying to other players’ Tweets, I also retweeted some legit ones for authenticity.

Anyways, it was fun to see both online and offline combine in class (and finally find out which of my classmates were playing each role). Even while people were presenting, the Twitter backchannel was super active.

Anyways, I can’t recommend the class enough. I’ve learned so much about Chinese immigration (stuff I’ve never heard mentioned by either my parents or history teachers growing up). Add to that projects like this and the restaurant ethnography assignment we did earlier (interviewing a waiter and manager at a local Sichuan restaurant) and you’ve got an amazing semester. AMES 335s, highly recommended!

Marcy Cho, Laura Song’s roommate, shares her story
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