Mike Wendland reports on Detriot Free Press about the new online game to help people to learn Chinese:

As the Olympics approach and China becomes even more dominant in the news, a Michigan State University professor has created an online video game that teaches Chinese culture and language.

Called Zon/New Chengo, (http://enterzon.com/), the multiplayer Web-based role-playing game was created by Yong Zhao, MSU distinguished professor of educational psychology and technology. A native of a poor, remote area of the Sichuan Province, he has become a highly influential researcher in Chinese education, bringing in more than $20 million in research to the university.

“Games are supposed to be fun and educational,” said Zhao.”This game offers a vicarious, virtual experience of China.”

The goal for the player is to fare well and advance socially and economically, with players moving from “tourists” to “residents” and finally to “citizens” of modern China. At the different stages, players encounter quests, have access to learning materials — including live Chinese tutors — and are able to organize and participate in social activities.

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