Chinese Character Challenge – A Slightly Less Dull Way to Revise

Recently I was in at Moodle HQ and another programmer there was demonstrating a space game he made that extracted questions from a Moodle quiz. I believe this is it https://github.com/xow/moodle-mod_quizgame.

I began to think about various other kinds of games that could easily draw questions from a quiz. As I am making an attempt to learn to read Mandarin this seemed like a suitable starting point.

First, I trawled through my collection of past projects. I have a whole bunch of playable game prototypes just sitting there. No need to start from scratch if I don’t have to. I quickly settled on doing something with a game prototype called Endless Goblin.

Although I initially intended to pull data from a Moodle quiz I stumbled on a set of text files containing all of the characters I was interested in as well as their definitions. This made getting this information into Moodle then out of Moodle seem somewhat redundant. After all, I could just parse the text files so why bother with a whole learning management system. Directly parsing the text files is indeed what the game currently does. Moodle integration will have to wait for another day.

Once I had the parsing happening, which only required a small amount of massaging the files to fix inconsistencies, I suddenly had a large set of data available. All six HSK levels are available (what is HSK?) in both simplified and traditional characters. The user/player can choose whatever levels they want to review as well as their simplified Vs traditional preference.

Now, I’m certainly not claiming that this is a brilliant game. It is thoroughly repetitive and distinctly lacking in any sense of progress. It just endlessly feeds you English to Chinese character questions. Right now, it doesn’t even tell you what the correct answer was when you get a question wrong (although I may have fixed this by the time you read this). The game also has no ability to phrase questions the other way around, from Chinese character to English. It is however marginally more fun than grinding through characters in Memrise or Anki. At least it offers a bit of a break in the routine of revision.

There is a link to Chinese Character Challenge below. I am currently mulling ways to build a more complete game around character learning and revision.

Note that I have updated the game since writing this post and have now moved it to its own domain

Mandarin Mojo

The original prototype code is still available from https://github.com/andyjdavis/ChineseCharacterChallenge See the README.md on github for links to the sources of all of the assets that I have used.

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