Mahjong game is originated in China. A Qing Dynasty official created the modern version of mahjong during the period of Emperor Tongzhi (1861-1875). Similar to the Western card game, Chinese mahjong is a game of skill, strategy and calculation and involves a certain degree of chance. Similar games appeared about three or four thousand years ago, spreading from the royal members to the common people.
The game is played with a set of 144 tiles based on Chinese characters and symbols. In most variations, each player begins by receiving thirteen tiles. The tiles are differentiated by Chinese characters and symbols, and are split into three categories: simple suits (108 tiles), honor suits (28 tiles), and bonus tiles (8 tiles). Generally, each player gets 13 tiles and strives to draw "melds" to win rounds. Some specific rules vary from region to region.
In turn players draw and discard tiles until they complete a legal hand using the fourteenth drawn tile to form four groups (melds) and a pair (head). There are fairly standard rules about how a piece is drawn, stolen from another player and thus melded, the use of simples (numbered tiles) and honours (winds and dragons), the kinds of melds, and the order of dealing and play. However there are many regional variations in the rules; in addition, the scoring system and the minimum hand necessary to win varies significantly based on the local rules being used.
As enjoyable as the game may be for some, it has been shrouded in controversy for decades. The major reasons cited for opposing mahjong is that it is viewed merely as a means to gamble or as a simple leisure activity.
In 2006, the World Mahjong Organization (WMO) was founded in Beijing, China. Currently there are many governing bodies which often host exhibition games and tournaments for modern and traditional mahjong gaming. Mahjong can also be played online through websites or downloading programs in various languages.