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Video game in Chinese: the ultimate guide

If you follow this blog, you may have seen that we are working at an awesome place: the Plaine Images. What makes this place so awesome? Mainly its video game atmosphere! We love being here because at Ninchanese, we’ll be using game mechanics to help you (and even us) learn Chinese. The Plaine Images is even currently hosting an extraordinary exhibit about video games, which covers the history of video gaming, from its beginning in the 70s to what video games are like today. It also has a big ass game boy (that’s me trying to play it)!

One day, I was playing tour guide of the exhibit for a few of my Chinese friends, and they told me that they didn’t know about Sonic the hedgehog! At the time, I was very surprised but, hey, everything is possible so I didn’t really give it a second thought. Besides, who was I to talk? Giving this tour to my friend made me realize I didn’t know much about video game in Chinese or China nor did I know any video game-related vocabulary in Chinese!

So all this got me wondering: what’s the state of video game in Chinese and China? What are all the consoles and games called over there? Follow me as I venture into the world of video game in Chinese…

Video game in Chinese: The Gaming Industry in China

One of the first things that struck me when I got to China is how popular online gaming is, as well as playing in arcades and internet cafés. World of Warcraft is particularly big over there. There’s even an (unofficial) World of Warcraft-themed amusement park in China!

Turns out, that’s all I knew about gaming in China. After researching a bit, I learned that the Chinese government hasn’t allowed foreign video game consoles to be sold in China since 2000 (but you can still buy them on the black market)! Maybe that’s one of the reasons why online gaming is so big in China. To give you an idea, this market was worth a record breaking $9.7 billion in 2012 ( a 35.1% increase from 2011!).

A historical tours of video game in Chinese

Let’s now learn together a little bit of video game vocabulary in Chinese. Follow me!

First things first, let’s start with some words about hardware.

游戏机 : Yóuxì jī = video game console

手柄 : Shǒubǐng = gamepad

卡匣 : kǎ xiá = cartridge

光碟 : guāng dié = optical disc

记忆卡 : jì yì kǎ = memory card

Pong was one of the first real games.

Video game in Chinese atari

Atari Super Pong, 1975

雅達利 : Yǎ dálì = Atari

“双人网球” : Shuāngrén wǎngqiú = (litt.)Tennis for two = Pong

Of course, from the start, computers were part of the Video Game Race, and will always be 😉

Video game in Chinese apple 2

Apple II, 1977

苹果电脑 : Píngguǒ diànnǎo = apple computer

Atari VCS 2600, the first real hit in the game industry_

Video game in Chinese atari

Atari VCS 2600, 1977

The first name of the Atari VCS was 雅达利 计算机系统 : Yǎ dá lì jìsuànjī xìtǒng, which stood for Atari computer system. They quickly changed the name to Atari 2600.

Magnavox was also note-worthy but can we really say it was a video game console?

Video game in Chinese magnavox

Magnavox odyssey, 1972

Magnavox 奥得赛 : Magnavox Ào de sài = Magnavox Odyssey

What about the Philips Console?

Video game in Chinese Philips

Philips N20, 1977

飞利浦 : Fēilìpǔ = Philips

I didn’t find any articles related to the Philips console in China. Did it come out in China?

This was my first console! Do you recognize it ?

Video game in Chinese nintendo

Nintendo Family computer and Game & Watch, 1983

任天堂 : Rèntiāntáng = Nintendo

红白机 : Hóng bái jī = Famicon / NES

The Amstrad CPC 464! I coded my first game on it in Basic…

Video game in Chinese amstrad

Amstrad CPC 464, 1984

Do you remember Alex Kidd? It was sold with the Sega Master System and was a great game!

Video game in Chinese sega

Sega Master System, 1985

世嘉 : Shìjiā = Sega

Apparently, in China, the Sega Master system Game console was called Sega Mark III just like in Japan.

Around the same time, Atari and Amiga were in the place!

video game in chinese atari

Atari 520 ST, 1986

video game in chinese amiga

Commodore Amiga 500, 1987

This NES Design was the first console I really played on. I will never forget Mario and Zelda…

video game in chinese nes

Nintendo NES 1987

The mega drive with the Speed of Sound Guy (音速小子: yīnsù xiǎozi) Sonic!

video game in chinese mega drive

Sega Mega Drive, 1988

This was my best friend as a child…

video game in chinese gameboy

Nintendo Gameboy, 1989

Although, at the time, nothing could surpass the monstro power of the NEO-GEO!

video game in chinese neo geo

SNK Neo-Geo, 1990

When Nintendo was great! (Troll 😉 )

video game in chinese super nes

Super Nintendo, 1990

超级任天堂 : chāojí rèntiāntáng = Super Nintendo/famicon or for short 超任 : Chāo rèn

What is this newcomer’s name in Chinese? 索尼 :Suǒní = Sony!

video game in chinese playstation

Sony Playstation, 1994

索尼 : Suǒní = Sony

索尼游戏机 = Suǒní yóuxì jī : Sony Playstation

Sega Return

video game in chinese saturn

Sega Saturn, 1994

世嘉土星 : Shìjiā tǔxīng = Sega Saturn

Did you know that Zelda Ocarina of Time on the N64 was the best game ever ?

video game in chinese n64

Nintendo 64, 1996

任天堂64 : rèntiāntáng 64 = Nintendo 64

The Dreamcast was clearly a good game console!

video game in chinese dreamcast

Sega Dreamcast, 1998

With for example Tenchu, this game was great. Sega should never have stopped making game consoles…

But you know the Playstation 2 was there to knock down Sega!

video game in chinese PS2

Playstation 2, 2000

I liked to transport the Gamecube to play with Friends. 4 game controllers were supported natively!

video game in chinese gamecube

Nintendo Gamecube, 2001

I’ll finish this tour with the Xbox by Microsoft.

video game in chinese XBOX

Microsoft Xbox, 2001

微软 : Wēiruǎn = Microsoft

That way, we’ll have covered all the main video gaming manufacturers (PCs aside!) in this historical tour.

The video game console market today

Currently, competitive newcomers in the the Console Market are rare and the market remains dominated by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. However, with the rise of mobile gaming, Android and the iPhone, the market is moving. I hope this renewed competition will make even more good games for our pleasure!

Have fun playing video game in Chinese!

The Nincha Team

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NinchaneseVideo game in Chinese: the ultimate guide


Join the conversation
  • Greg Bell - January 23, 2015

    This is great! I’ve always been curious about what the various video game systems were called in Chinese, so this article is perfect for me. Now we just need to go out and find more classic video games in Chinese and we’re all set 😉 Thank you for putting this article together!

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