Monday, 29 November 2010

blogging in Chinese

One thing that I have been contemplating is whether to start a boardgame blog in Chinese. I am a Malaysian citizen, born in Malaysia and brought up in Malaysia, and I am an ethnic Chinese. In July 2010 I added a widget to this (English) boardgame blog, which let me keep count of how many visitors I get from each country. After having tracked the visitors breakdown by country for a while, I was a little surprised and also a little disappointed that the number of visitors from China (CN)- most populous country in the world - was very low. I didn't expect the number to be high, this being a blog in English, but I didn't expect it to be that low either. They have the same number of visitors as tiny Macau (MO)! I understand the number of visitors from USA may not be accurate, that some of them may actually come from other countries. I wonder how much the statistics are skewed by this.

A snapshot of my flag counter on 23 Nov 2010. This is about 4 months of data.

I have read that boardgames is booming in China, being a new hip pastime. Boardgame cafes have mushroomed. Games are getting licensed to be published in Chinese. There are games designed in China specifically targeting the local market. There are even pirated versions of boardgames. I have seen some when I visited Hong Kong recently. When the pirates are active in an industry, that means the industry is probably big enough to be lucrative for them. I'm not sure whether boardgames will be just a fad, but hopefully not.

I do get a decent number of visitors from Taiwan (TW) and Hong Kong (HK), where Chinese is the main language. Surprisingly they contribute more visitors than Australia (AU). Singapore (SG) is a country with mostly ethnic Chinese, but they all speak English, so it is not surprising that I get many visitors from Singapore. Also Singapore is a neighbour of Malaysia (MY), and for a few years in the 1950's we were one country.

Now why do I get this urge to do a blog in Chinese? In a nutshell, it's because I'm Chinese. I read and write Chinese. I grew up in a Mandarin-speaking family, and now that I have started a family of my own, I too speak Mandarin with my wife and my children. However I definitely read and write in English more than I do in Chinese. I only use English at work, I read mostly English novels, I visit English websites, I watch more English movies than in other languages, I play English versions of boardgames. But English is always a second language. I probably don't write in Chinese better than English, but I have a feeling that some things that I want to express are just better expressed in Chinese. I'm looking for a feeling of community of people who speak Mandarin as their mother tongue, in particular those who speak Malaysianised Mandarin, or maybe even Sabahan Mandarin (Sabah is a state in Malaysia where I come from).

I added this little widget not long ago, because I was wondering whether it would help to encourage Chinese-readers to read this blog. Then I tried it. Conclusion: machine translation is pretty bad. Go ahead and try it (top right of page).

There's no noble intention or grand objective about thinking of doing a Chinese boardgame blog, like promoting boardgames to the Chinese community (whether in China or otherwise), or providing information to Chinese people who are already boardgamers. If I do it, it's only because I enjoy writing. When I started this blog in 2007 I said that I expected to be updating it once every few months. What an understatement. It amuses me no end to read my first blog entry. I enjoy writing and expressing my thoughts, and I certainly feel very encouraged when there are others who enjoy reading my blog and find it useful or informative. So what's stopping me?

  • A blog in Chinese will likely be mostly a translation of what I write here in this English blog. It doesn't sound so enticing when I think about having to repeat myself.
  • I always think of boardgame terminology in English. I don't know the terms used in Chinese boardgame circles. I don't know most of the Chinese translation of game names. In some cases I think the names are translated different in different Chinese markets, e.g. Dominion is translated differently in Hong Kong and China. There will be some struggle to get used to using Chinese terminology, and to find out what commonly used terms are.
  • Not sure whether I'll have time to keep up regular-enough updates.

China... the boardgame. Sorry, couldn't resist...

I have not entirely made up my mind whether to not do this, or to just give it a shot. I don't feel like starting something that I'm not confident enough to persevere in. I tried to look at what Chinese boardgame websites are out there, to see whether I would be adding any significant contribution if I were to start a Chinese blog. I didn't search for long, because after finding just a few of them, I realised that reading about boardgames in Chinese is quite tiring for me, because I am so used to reading about boardgames in English. I'm too used to the English terminology. Much of the content that I found could be found at English websites. There is some content about games designed in China, but I didn't find them very interesting. So I probably will not be reading about boardgames in Chinese much in the future. I only subscribed to the RSS feed of one of the websites, WanZhuoYou.

Here are some Chinese websites that I found. Any other good ones anyone can recommend?

Now this, is one very long rambling post about something that I am trying to convince myself not to do.

8 comments:

蛋塔兔 said...

great info!

wankongyew said...

Your blog is probably blocked to most people in mainland China. The Great Firewall of China routinely blocks access to lots of websites, including Blogger, Wordpress, MySpace, Facebook etc. My wife's Chinese blog has this problem too as she has friends in China who can't access the blog. I use Bluehost which is a very large commercial webhost, and I guess that is blocked as well.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

good point wan. i haven't thought of that. i wonder how the great firewall of china decides which websites to block. i don't think i made any negative remarks about the chinese government. :-D

wankongyew said...

Heh, it's not you personally. China blocks many blogging services wholesale. They hate blogs period.

荒凉。儒 said...

blogging in chinese is a good idea especially u r an euro games lover cos those games r more "No necessary in-game text", those who r not well in english might pick up a interest in it and slowly become 1 of the member of this community (i mean in malaysia). yes it's true china web surfer can't log into blogspot sites usually, but i've heard they got some bypass software or site that can break the rules. i was once thinking of writing a chinese boardgame blog but what cause the problem for me is the words should use the english. how do i translate it? ex: worker placement, hand management and so on... and please forget about that google translate widget, it sux!

Hiew Chok Sien said...

indeed the terminology will be a challenge. the bigger reason that i'm still hesitating is i'm not sure i will have enough time to maintain the new blog. so, i'm still thinking... thinking... thinking... very slowly...

Wan said...

I would like to invite you to be the editor of wanzhuoyou.com. Please email to media@boardgame-china.com and let's talk. Very glad to know someone out there wants to start a chinese board game blog.

Wan said...

Very glad to see someone out here wants to start a Chinese board game blog. I am the owner of WanZhuoYou.com and I would like to invite you to be one of our editors. Please contact me!:) engputer@boardgame-china.com