Online game teaches children about Chinese culture

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We've found a computer game on the Web that teaches Chinese culture and language. But your children won't really think of it as learning because it's fun.

The game is called "Zon." It's a multi-player, Web-based, role-playing game. "You can customize your guy. They call it an avatar," Max Andersen explained.

Created by a professor at Michigan State University, it aims to bring players like Jackson, Max, and Alex Andersen a vicarious experience of modern-day China.

"When you begin, it tells you the Chinese words and what it means so you know and understand what you are trying to do," Jackson Andersen said.

The goal of the game is to advance socially and economically. Players start as tourists then advance to residents and citizens.

"You start out in the airport, and so you can talk to different people. And if you talk to the right people, they get you somewhere. And you can play games to get money," Max said.

The children's mom has no problem letting them spend time playing this computer game. "Any game that has an educational value I'm excited about. It's extra fun because with the Olympics coming up, it will give them a little bit of a flavor of what it's like there," Susan Andersen said.

At different stages in the game, the players go on quests; they buy things and make money. The siblings have learned a lot about the Chinese people.

"You get to see how they dress and how they do everything in their country," Alex said.

Jackson added, "Their clothes are different, their suits are different, and their clothes are really colorful."

"They like to drink tea a lot, and they have these special corn tortillas which are spicy," Max said.

The children are learning the Chinese language too. "I know a few colors: red and blue," Max said. "There's, like, this little script here that tells you what they said."

After playing this game, the siblings say they are even more excited about the Olympics being in China.

"So I know when the athletes are participating, I know maybe what they are doing and what they are experiencing," Jackson said.

When the Games are over, they say they'll still keep playing "Zon" and learning.

The game is free to play. You can check it out by logging on to

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