I am a proficient Mandarin speaker. I lived in Taiwan for six years, studied for more than two years at the Taipei Language Institute, and traveled extensively throughout mainland China. I have family members from Taiwan and China, and we try to speak Mandarin with our kids as much as possible.
However, even though I am proficient in Mandarin, I have not achieved fluency. I often study specialized vocabulary lists prior to conducting interviews or preparing for visits to Asia. In advance of my trip next month to Singapore to participate in the State of Play V conference, I wanted to get a handle on the Mandarin terminology used to describe virtual worlds and popular gaming platforms. These are words that do not appear in my Oxford putonghua dictionary, so I asked a friend and former colleague of mine to help translate some of the Mandarin used to describe the videogame industry and related software concepts.
It was interesting to see her list. I recognized many of the characters right away, and many terms made perfect sense -- these phrases tend to be direct translations of the modern English expressions, such as massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG, 大型多人線上角色扮演遊戲, da4xing2duo1ren2xian4shang4jiao3se4ban4yan3you2xi4).
Others were readable, but were not word-for-word equivalents. According to my wife, some of these terms may have been derived from classic Chinese literature, or older translations from foreign sources -- for instance, the term for "dungeon" is 地下城 (di4xia4cheng2), lit. "underground castle," or 魔洞 (mo2dong4), lit. "monster's cave." It's also interesting to see how -- in certain cases -- the terminology has split in Taiwan and China.
Here's the list:
3d (3d image): (3D 影像）or 三度空間影像
video game engine: 電玩遊戲引擎
Software platform: 軟體平台 (Taiwan); 軟體平台 (China)
Hardware platform: 硬體平台 (Taiwan); 軟件平台 (China)
Tolkien: 托爾金 (Taiwan and China)
Lord of the Rings: 魔戒
Gaming experience: 遊戲體驗 or 遊戲經驗 (in different contexts)
Players: 玩遊戲者 （could also be 玩家）
Massively multiplayer online game (MMOG, MMO game): 大型多人線上遊戲
Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG): 大型多人線上角色扮演遊戲
Subscription model: 訂購模式
Virtual goods: 虛擬物品
Dungeons: 地下城 or 魔洞
Online account: 線上帳戶
Online community: 線上社群
Concurrent users: 同時上線使用者
Game industry: 電玩業
Internet cafe: 網咖 (Taiwan), 網吧 (China)
Prepaid cards: 預付卡 (Taiwan), 預付費卡 (China)
Prepaid playing time: 預付遊戲時間