--Informant Info--
Nationality: Chinese
Age: 16
Occupation: High School Student
Residence: Arcadia, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/28/2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Chinese

My sister told me that when she was young she played a game called MASH.  The game involves two people and requires a sheet of paper.  One person (who acts as a fortune-teller) sets up the sheet with the letters MASH on top.  M stands for Mansion, A stands for Apartment, S stands for Shack, and H stands for House.  The fortune-teller asks the other person, who is the main player, for the name of three boys or girls.  These are written on the left edge of the paper.  The fortune-teller then asks the player for three dream occupations and writes them down below the names of the boys and girls.  After that, the fortune teller asks for three dream vehicles and puts them under the list of occupations.  The fortune-teller asks the player for a number from 1 through 10.  They then write down the number in the center of the paper.  The fortune-teller takes this number and starts counting along the letters MASH, reversing direction every time they hit M or H on the end.  When the fortune-teller reaches the number, they cross out the letter they land on.  The process is repeated until one letter remains.  This letter indicates what sort of housing the player will have in the future.  The same counting method is used on the list of boys and girls to determine who the player is going to be married to.  Counting off on the list of occupations determines the future job, and counting off on the vehicles determines what the player is going to drive in the future.  When this information is obtained, the fortune-teller announces the results as such:
“So you’re going to live in a (x), and you’ll be married to (x), you’ll be working as a (x), driving a (x), and you’ll have (x) children!”

My sister learned this in primary school from other girls, and recalls obsessively playing it.  She thinks part of the appeal of MASH is that it seems to greatly simplify the future and put in the players’ hands.  She says that there are other variants she remembers as well.  In addition to the above information, sometimes the fortune-teller will also divine the marital status of the  player to the boy/girl selected through the counting process, by counting off a list involving such relationship statuses as “married, divorced, widowed, dating.”

I agree with my sister’s thoughts on the fortune-telling aspect of this game.  It’s a really simplified approach to telling the future.  It reminds me of fortune-tellers that children would make in order to answer all sorts of Yes/No questions through simple factors (like a number or color, depending on the format of the fortune-teller).  I find it interesting that this condenses the idea of futures and really gives the player agency (for example, you could pick 3 very expensive cars and 3 high-paying occupations and guarantee yourself a pretty positive future in this game).