You have checked out the “Sources of Learning” page, bought yourself some incredible textbooks, and are listening to audio clips for practice. But you need to take a break every now and again. Maybe you want to watch a movie or some television. Or perhaps a good book for practice?
In a similar vein as “Sources of Learning,” here is where I will list the many forms of Chinese entertainment that I have uncovered. This will include music, games, novels, movies, and television shows. Organized below in alphabetical order, each will be described briefly and given a difficulty rating.
Please note that using sources of entertainment as studying material is often a double-edged sword. You will enjoy your studying more than sitting in front of a boring textbook; however, you must remain engaged and taking notes on words you do not recognize or phrases you do not understand. This is where your own language study skills will come into practice, and the bottom line is that you get out what you put in.
Dynasty Warriors Franchise
Dynasty Warriors is the long-standing hack-and-slash video game series developed by Koei Tecmo. With at least eight current installments to the series, Dynasty Warriors turns the Chinese classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms into a strategic hack-and-slash game, where players choose one of many officers and simulate the battles detailed throughout the novel. The generals are separated by their faction (Wei, Wu, Shu, and, in later installments, Jin), and players will select a faction and then play through that faction’s particular line of battles. Many battles overlap various factions (the Battle of Chibi, for instance, contained all three factions fighting at the same time), but players will play as separate individuals and have different goals within the same mission, meaning replayability is very high for the series. As players play and complete battles, they unlock more and more officers and weapons to utilize. The game has a sense of fantasy to it outside the novel itself, with over-the-top special attacks and fantasy weapons included, but it does highlight the major players of the novel and their reactions and relations to others.The games also include a encyclopedia of sorts for newcomers to the series, explaining individuals involved (including lesser known officers), geography, and battle specifics. Earlier games in the series had some serious modifications to battles, as well as incorrect pronunciations of names, but more recent games in the series have found a surprising amount of detail and character, essentially bringing the book to life.
Note that the game series is rated T for teen, as players attack a plethora of enemies utilizing all weapons from axes to whips to floating swords. The game does not have any Chinese language in it (aside from the names of the officers and locations themselves), but it nevertheless can be a gateway into the novel as well as a fun source of entertainment.
You read the above correctly: Pokemon.
Since Pokemon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby, the Pokemon franchise has included both Simplified and Traditional Chinese options for players. This means that you will be playing the entire game in Chinese language, from Pokemon names to attacks to using items.
Recommended only for those who have experience with the language, this is both a fun and invigorating way to become engaged in studying Mandarin. Be sure to keep a notebook handy, jotting down any vocabulary you do not understand. Language utilized ranges from HSK 1 through HSK6, so be prepared going in!
侦探故事 – “Zhentan Gushi”
Translated simply as “Detective Stories,” this collection of children’s detective literature is great reading practice for intermediate students. The book is published by Weiyu Books specifically for Chinese children, meaning that there are no English explanations or translations. However, each character is marked with Pinyin, making reading an easier process. Each story ranges from 1-10 pages, meaning they are excellent when you are crunched for time but still want to a fun story to read and practice with.