TNT: Some Chinese Terminology

Michael Blaker
Game Industry News is running the best blog posts from people writing about the game industry. Articles here may originally appear on Michael's blog, Windborne's Story Eatery.


This week for Translation Necessary Thursday I’m covering some terms that you as a reader might have stumped you in my recent posts! It’s all about Chinese Terminology!

Genre Terms: The two broadest genres you’ll see me covering is Xianxia, or Immortal Hero in English, and Wuxia, Martial Epics in English. They are similar, but they aren’t quite the same. Xianxia is usually a happier setting, although the hero does go through severe and harsh trials in order to come out ahead of others. They may or may not actually become literally immortal. Wuxia is more traditional Martial epics, with the hero not necessarily getting a happy ending. If you want a more detailed look at Chinese genres take a look at this post.

Cultivation and Cultivators: This is a term where people who train in martial arts or more mystical arts are after continuously training gain superhuman powers. Think along the lines of people from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Flying on a sword or slicing off a top of a mountain is something an incredibly powerful Cultivator can often do in stories. This doesn’t mean they are invincible, just incredibly powerful. Cultivation is usually tied to Qigong. Qi is also known as Ki, or Chi in other settings and in other countries.

Insights: Sometimes a character will gain a flash of understanding, often termed insight, and will understand a deep philosophical or even magical theory or power. This is often tied to the character gaining understanding in how to train and become even more powerful. Such insights are often something that can be disturbed and usually lead to deep meditation on the insight right there on the spot. Characters may also undergo something called Closed Door Training, where they seclude themselves in order to meditate and gain or better understand insights. Interrupting such training is often considered highly rude and can lead to the character losing that flash of inspiration.

Refining: Often tied to fictional materials that a character must process in order to improve their cultivation this isn’t always something everyone can do. If this is the case it is often tied to Chinese Alchemical theory.

That’s it for this week’s Translation Necessary Thursday!

One thought on “TNT: Some Chinese Terminology”

  1. This was really helpful. Gamers run into these concepts all the time. Most recently the Qi concept was a central concept of the Shadowrun Hong Kong game for example. It makes a bit more sense after reading this. Thanks!

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