Chinese (Mandarin)

On this page you will find information (scroll down) about:

  1. the Mandarin Chinese language and the challenges of gaming localisation in Chinese.
  2. the Chinese gaming market, particularly regulation/legality of online gaming.

The Mandarin Chinese language and
the challenges of gaming localisation

When writing Chinese, which is obviously the most relevant topic when talking about Chinese gaming translation and gaming localisation, the typical distinction lies between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

Simplified Chinese was developed in the 1950s to improve literacy and is written mainly by the Chinese people living on the main land (and even in Singapore and Malaysia). Traditional Chinese is written mainly by people living in Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The key to reaching Chinese players from a linguistic perspective is to localise according to region

Both Traditional and Simplified Chinese are considered variants of Mandarin, which is the biggest of the seven main Chinese dialects with more than a billion native speakers. The other six main dialects are called Wu, Gan, Xiang, Min, Hakka and Yue. Spoken Chinese has developed and changed much more than written Chinese in modern times, and the two variants of Mandarin combined (simplified and traditional) represents the official written language for all of China.

However, things are written with distinct differences in terms and grammar depending on region, so the key to reaching Chinese players from a linguistic perspective is to localise according to region. At All-In Translations we have Chinese translators located in all the main regions, and we were recently chosen by the Macao Gaming Show '14 to translate some of their marketing material from English into simplified Chinese. We went to Macao and exhibited at the conference, and at the casino next door we quickly established that it is not a myth that the color red means luck in China, especially when you have red hair and sit down at the Blackjack tables.

Like all other translation, another big challenge for gaming translation into Chinese is to archive faithfulness, expressiveness and elegance at the same time. Translators must also pay great attention to the cultural background and customs of the audience, and try to follow the conventional terms used by most people in gaming.

Sometimes, translators must also be creative in translation, as not every English word has its one to one correspondence in Chinese, and even the same word has different meanings in different context. In a word, the final translation in Chinese must always be readable, understandable and friendly to its target audience - the players.

We talked to one of our top Traditional Chinese Casino Translators about this and this is what he says:

Gambling is still forbidden by our government in China Mainland, so the biggest challenge related to Chinese gaming localisation is that many translators don't even know how to play the. So when the players find these games translated by a translator that does not have a clue, results don't match what they were expecting, and they might feel a breach of trust and never play there again.

The only way to become familiar with the terminology is to play games. Some game rules are complex, and you can translate well only when you understand it thoroughly, so that you can convey the message in a native way.

The basic terms which many of the gaming sites use such as reel, feature, symbol, wild, scatter and bonus are often translated in different ways on different sites. To be able to offer an attractive and trustworthy product it is also important to keep consistency.

The basic terms which many of the gaming sites use such as reel, feature, symbol, wild, scatter and bonus are often translated in different ways on different sites. To be able to offer an attractive and trustworthy product it is also important to keep consistency".

Therefore we recommend that you contact All-In Translations early in the process of localising your games, games marketing etc. into Chinese. For instance we always ask our clients to fill in these stylistic preferences which gives us a good indicator on your desired target group, tone, style, etc., and we can then tell you what we think is your best way into China.

A good example of someone who has understood how to market a foreign website in China, is Mark Zuckerberg. From the video below, shot in Beijing where he did a 30 minute Q&A session about Facebook's plans in China, you can see that he 1) had learned Mandarin and did the entire session in his new-learned language and 2) talks in frequent and good terms about his Chinese family.


Facebook is banned in China, just like online gaming, but many are talking about liberalisation.

Status and potential of
the Chinese gaming market

It is difficult to distinguish between facts, speculation, fabrications and hidden interests when talking about the status and potential of the Chinese gaming market. On one side you have the people arguing that a more liberal governmental gambling approach will cause massive damages to a developing society, whereas the opponents say that liberalisation will greatly boost the economy and put a damper to underground activities.

We can however establish that:

  • The Chinese likes gambling more than average people.
  • Outside of Macao, gambling is officially allowed only through the two lotteries of China: The China Sports Lottery and The China Welfare Lottery.
  • In 1999, when China reclaimed formal sovereignty of the island of Macao (from Portugal), it was established as a gambling zone, out-gambling Las Vegas every year since 2006.
  • The Chinese government is strictly saying that any form for online gambling is illegal, however it is said that many online gaming sites are accepting bets from Chinese players.

In an interesting article on theworldofchinese.com the reporter sums it up well:

For the time being nobody is quite sure if and how the gambling industry might develop in China. Will it become legal? Or will there be, at least, more gambling zones established? Or will China only stick with Macau?

The person interviewed anonymously in the article commented:

While poker and other casino games are totally illegal, online or offline, when it comes to sport and lotteries, there is a space for companies to act. But there is the right way and the wrong way to go about the business.

China infographic
Some general notes about the data:
These infographics were made in May 2014, and the data used is as recent as we could find. We have tried to find sources with data for all or many countries, in order to increase the value of comparison, but obviously this is not always possible. We encourage users to check the sources below or to contact us for clarification.