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Video games

ChrisClark   April 22nd, 2010 9:16a.m.

I was inspired by the recent Warcraft chinesepod lesson to give video gaming a go as a Chinese language learning tool. I'm not much of a gamer, but a year ago I did some Windows Mobile gaming and a couple weeks of World of Warcraft to get my Spanish study jump-started, and I'd found it quite effective.

For Chinese, Warcraft 3 seems quite good, since the volume of text isn't too overwhelming, and most all in-game text is stored in a log. It was hard at first, slogging through it with the help of Pleco on my ipod touch and every so often appealing to the staff of the web cafe, but this is a great way to harness the addictive power of video games! Age of Empires III: Asian Civilizations and the recent Sims games look great as well, among the games that I've sampled at my local Internet cafe (in Taiwan). The original Starcraft isn't translated into Chinese, as far as I know, but I've played the beta version of Starcraft II is, and I'll probably play that a bit as well - might wait until it's published, so I can get the tutorial and story content.

For language learning, it seems best to only casually play any single game, play it until you're comfortable with the lingo, and then either move onto a different medium (movies, novels, etc.) or a different game, so that you're always being exposed to new environments and fresh language. I'll eventually do a stint on World of Warcraft or another MMO (massively multiplayer online) game, but that can be tricky for anyone who lives on the mainland, because they almost always require a PRC id. In Taiwan or Hong Kong it's not that hard - I've successfully gotten TLBB (天龙八部, an MMO based on a famous martial arts novel) and World of Warcraft id's, though once I got playing I found them a little beyond my Chinese comfort level.

Has anyone else given this a go? What are some games that you've liked for language learning purposes? I'm especially interested in original Chinese games, ideally ones like TLBB that have English versions.

jww1066   April 22nd, 2010 10:01a.m.

LOL, my wife learned English playing Quake, and I can still remember how to say "Mein Leben! Ich sterbe!" from Castle Wolfenstein.


ktvxiaojie   April 22nd, 2010 10:45a.m.

I've been looking into getting The Sims 3 in Chinese, too. I'm particularly excited to pick up lots of extra household object nouns (building and decorating are my favorite parts)!

nick   April 22nd, 2010 11:54a.m.

I played Tian Long Ba Bu for a little while in Chinese. It was HARD. But the advantage was that it wasn't a full-screen MMO like WoW, so the manual opened in a web browser which I could use translating tools on. (They were really funny--the best vocab I remember is not in English or Chinese, but in Google Translate-ese: "Jane beast" for pets, "Door-to-door skills" for your martial arts abilities...) I should probably give it another shot now that I've 1000 more characters than I had.

I adapted a method for generating the PRC IDs that you need--if anyone wants one, I'll dig that out.

JB   April 22nd, 2010 4:11p.m.

It sounds awesome. I wish I had more time to do it. I've found chatting on QQ to be great practice myself, but, that's changing the subject.

Dailycookie   April 23rd, 2010 12:09a.m.

I mentioned this a few weeks ago in another thread, but I really enjoy playing WoW here on the Taiwan servers.

With a small amount of tech-savy-ness you can configure the US client to work with the Chinese servers. So then the interface is in English but all the in-game interactions are in Chinese. That's a good place to start until you feel comfortable enough to switch totally over to the Chinese client.

Really a fun way to chat and learn... and in a way the game is even more emmersive. :) But instead of elvish, everyone is talking in Chinese.

I play it in windowed mode on a mac, with MDGB open in a browser behind it. I did have to install a mod to allow me to cut/copy text from the chat window in-game for pasting into MDGB.

Here's the website I found when I was trying to learn how to set it up:


Of course, it's even easier if you happen live in Taiwan. :) Go to any 7/11 and buy the dvdRom for 150 nt, and then buy a game card which is about 150nt for 30 hours playtime. :)


Hobbes828   April 24th, 2010 3:37a.m.

One of the greatest *free* games ever (grain of salt, etc.) is Cave Story (Doukutsu Monogatari). It is an action-adventure game made by an independent developer (and recently released as a WiiWare game?).

Available in Traditional or Simplified Chinese. I found language to be not that hard, and it has a good story but if you miss things it doesn't really affect the game much.


ChrisClark   April 24th, 2010 7:22a.m.

Yeah, I was considering playing that same exact way - actually I guess what mostly scared me off was my suspicion that it wasn't that great of a game. But maybe I'm wrong...

Really cool tips. I might try running WOW in a window when my laptop's back up. Here is a how-to, not sure if it works for WOW:

Looks cool, I'll have to check it out!

ChrisClark   May 2nd, 2010 10:21a.m.

The game I actually ended up buying was Sims 3, and I'm really happy with it! It's lots of fun, user-friendly, and the vocab is quite practical. The fact that it's a non-violent game is a bonus as well.

west316   May 2nd, 2010 6:58p.m.

I am curious how you all are playing WoW. I tried, but ultimately hit a snag where it wanted my Chinese SSN since I am on the mainland. I surfed their forums and found another foreigner who was having the same problem. The moderator told the guy tough luck, in Chinese of course.

How are you all playing it?

nick   May 2nd, 2010 7:51p.m.

I followed this post to generate a number for myself:


You need 18 digits. Put 110107 or 413001 for the first 6 (or you can pick another address code if you want--I don't know of any list of these). Then put YYYYMMDD of your birthdate. Then the "sequential code"--I just tried 001 because I'm male (000 for females), but you can try increasing these if they're taken for some reason.

Then there's a validation digit. You could probably just try all 10 possibilities, or you could run this Python script to tell you what the last digit should be (replace with your id number so far):

sum = -1
id = "11010719851005001" # last digit missing
for i in range(0, 17):
sum += int(id[i]) << (17 - i)
print (sum << 5) % 11

The number I got worked for me on Tian Long Ba Bu.

west316   May 2nd, 2010 11:25p.m.

Is Tian Long Ba Bu a pay for game though? Seeing as I would have to give them my credit card number to buy time, Nicholas A West obviously isn't a Chinese name, would it still work?

雅各   May 2nd, 2010 11:42p.m.

Unless things have changed you need the ID card number for the China servers, but not for the Taiwan servers. Where I got stuck was buying credit for the taiwan servers can be difficult if your not in taiwan.

ChrisClark   May 3rd, 2010 8:18a.m.

@xkfowboa, you can buy Taiwanese WOW cards on ebay pretty easily (though I haven't had the need to try it) - the seller just gives you the numbers, they don't actually have to physically ship the cards to you. Just google "ebay taiwan wow" and you should be good to go. I believe I learned that from the WOW in China site that @kohoutek mentioned.

nick   May 3rd, 2010 3:14p.m.

It was one of the free ones where they make money selling you accessories in game if you want, which I didn't. I don't know how the credit card stuff would work. But I don't think it's like they have a big database that matches all of China's ID numbers to names, so if there's a problem with the credit card, it shouldn't be related to the ID number.

雅各   May 3rd, 2010 6:40p.m.

Are any of the older classics available in chinese? I have been doing some googling and havent found much, I used to love Civ, Pharoah, Alpha Centuri, etc...

digilypse   May 4th, 2010 12:51a.m.

Mount&Blade: Warband is still a bit of an indy game, but one I've always found to be pretty fun, and the Warband expansion has Chinese language available now which is pretty neat. The biggest downside is that place and person names are all phonetic translations and a huge pain to try to remember.

ChrisClark   May 14th, 2010 12:54p.m.

@董雅各, I know for a fact that Civilization 4 and the expansion packs are available in Chinese, I played around with it the other day at the web cafe.

雅各   May 14th, 2010 7:27p.m.

Don't happen to remember what its chinese name is do you?

雅各   May 14th, 2010 7:35p.m.

ooh, found this site, I might have to try ordering something (:


ChrisClark   May 17th, 2010 2:28p.m.

@董雅各, it's 文明IV. For questions like this, I go to the English wikipedia article, then switch the language to 中文:

雅各   May 17th, 2010 5:49p.m.

Nice, thanks!

雅各   May 17th, 2010 6:02p.m.

I think i need to get around to making a word list of all the warcraft words from my warcraft III manual (:

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