Level Grind, Learn Chinese

Keane Ng

New member
Sep 11, 2008
Level Grind, Learn Chinese

Now you can perform one horribly mind-numbing and time-consuming activity - learning Chinese characters - by doing another one: playing a MMOG.

The task of learning and memorizing Chinese characters, which usually involves writing them over and over and over again, really isn't that much less mind-numbing than grinding or questing in your average MMOG. Write and write and write over and over again until you get it; kill the same pig over and over again until you have enough pork hides. Same thing, really.

So it makes perfect sense that someone would actually combine the two activities. Hanjamaru [http://www.hanjamaru.com], a Korean MMOG developed by NHN and EduFlo, is designed to help people learn Chinese characters via an audio-visual teaching system. Supposedly, Hanjamaru combines character-learning into its battle system. The system was tested and designed with the help of scholars and educational psychologists at Harvard.

And it seems to work, judging by the results from the test phase held in January. By playing the game, the 26,000 participants on average were able to learn 13 characters per hour. Having studied Chinese plenty, I'd say that's about as fast as I'd be on a good day (and those were few and far between). Unsurprisingly, the game was most effective on youngsters (10 or younger), 78% of whom have seen their ability to learn characers increase.

"It seems Hanjamaru brings interest to the users, and leads to natural education by going through repetitive routine," Kwon Su Yeon, a parent who tried Hanjamaru with her kid, said. "I hope it will be a nice teaching method for children to learn Chinese characters while having fun."

"Hanja" is the term for Chinese characters used in Korean, sort of like Kanji in Japanese. So, for now, the only characters in the game are the Korean Chinese ones, which, being mostly based on traditional Chinese, are actually more complicated and harder to learn than the standard simplified Chinese ones. However, Hanjamaru will eventually add both Japanese Kanji and Simplified Chinese later this year.

Unfortunately, the educational use of the game probably doesn't mean much to anyone outside of South Korea, so, sorry Chinese language learners in the West. Guess you're going to have to get back to grinding.

[Via IncGamers [http://www.incgamers.com/Games/2752/News/LearnChineseWithAnMMO/15715]]


Art Axiv

Cultural Code-Switcher
Dec 25, 2008
I would be interested to see other languages presented in this teaching programme. Looks quite fun to learn this way.


New member
Jan 14, 2009
Yep, looks like fun! It is nice that they use a game in this way. I'll wait for kanji, since I'm learning Japanese.


New member
Jan 13, 2007
That's a fantastic idea, to actually give a meaning to the most stupid video game related (in)activity.


Terrible, Terrible Damage.
May 21, 2008
Hmmm, this is a very interesting idea.

But unfortunately I don't speak Korean, so I can't use it.
Keane, do you think this will ever be made useful for English speakers who want to learn Chinese and Japanese?


Sep 4, 2008
This is a wonderful idea. I can see this type of method being used to teach many languages, or even other types of subjects.

I hate math, but if someone could incorporate it into something fun to play...

heh... kind of reminds me of when Bart Simpson is in a store playing a game - he's destroying state capitols and announcing them by name each time, having a blast. Then he realizes that he's learning, and he says "This game sucks!" and throws the controller down.


New member
Jul 13, 2006
I'd totally play a game that teaches Japanese. Hell, some kids on this site could even use one that teaches English. Seriously, I can't understand half the stuff that's said on these forums. ;-)


Escapist Points: 9001
Oct 14, 2007
This is the sort of thing that should be encouraged. I remember an article a few weeks back about how a parent was teaching her autistic child about people through The Sims. It's worthwhile for parents and hugely beneficial for the kids, or students.


New member
Mar 25, 2009
I already know chinese (i'm in a cool school dostrict) and i'm glad because china has the most of Americans dept


New member
Jan 19, 2009
There is a game like this(the qualities not as good and it's not an MMO) for Japanese called 'Slime Forest'. But the free version only has up to 200 kanji/hiragana/katakana characters. When you buy the membership version it bumps up to 2,000 characters.
Anyways, it's pretty fun if you don't mind destroying adorable little blobs of goo with your knowledge...and a garden hoe. ^-^