“Chinese isn’t the new French, it’s the new English” – Robert Davis, Director of the Chinese-language program in Chicago’s public school system. According to the latest InterNations Expat Insider Survey, learning Chinese is perceived as important yet difficult by 81% of respondents, while 46% also agree that it is hard to live in China without speaking the language.
It’s a familiar pattern, wide-eyed expat arrives, head spinning, high hopes, ready to embrace the energy and opportunity in China. Determined to master the language, the individual hires a private tutor or joins a language school only to become disheartened by the seemingly endless characters, tones and recycled medieval learning technics… Or simply becomes distracted and allocates ‘homework’ time to drinking gin and tonics on Yongkang Lu.
Enter, Mandarin Shooter Quest. An endeavour launched on Kickstarter in March which aims to inject more competition and fun into the language learning process through an adventure-based, mobile game which helps you master Chinese.
Spending too much time playing addictive games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush, Mandarin Shooter Quest’s Founder, expat Will Abbott, mused “if learning Chinese wasn’t so difficult and the elements of what makes a game addictive could be incorporated into an educational format, we all might have a chance at learning the language.’
The game, which will be accessible via the App Store, tests the player’s memory through a target shooting format where they must match correct words. The game uses repetition and order variation to ensure players recall all vocabulary. A demo version has been built and tested with promising early results, however to develop the full functionality of the game which will include 20 stages, characters, weapons, cheats and over 1,000 Chinese words (enough for any expat to have a strong command of the language), the founder has reached out to Kickstarter to help crowdfund the idea. “We talked to a couple of VCs but Kickstarter provides the platform to generate ground swell around an idea and in our case, reach those like-minded language learners who are also looking for better ways to conquer Mandarin” said Will.
When asked whether other languages are on the horizon, “as expats struggling first-hand with Chinese learning, this is our focus, but if we can raise the funds, we would love to expand to other languages, two-player functions, tailored word sets and more.’
Access to an early release of the game and support can be given at: http://1bmc.org/learn-chinese or by contacting Will directly through firstname.lastname@example.org. For $10 of support, you receive your very own Chinese name. Higher pledges allow you to design a weapon, name a stage or even become a character inside the game!