Sponsored by the Office of the Chinese Language Council International and the Michigan State University, Zon is a browser based “multiplayer, online learning environment designed to teach Chinese language and culture through gameplay”.
I personally don’t like very much this kind of educational games, I always find difficult to engage and loose interest after a few minutes. However, it looks like Zon has some interesting features, like the fact that almost everything can be spoken out.
The player can interact with almost anything, people (players and non-players) and objects, chat, get definitions and cultural or practical information. There are mini-games where you can earn cash. You can trade (and I hope can exercise the fine art of bargaining).
All in all it looks like a good idea but I am not into it, and it is sluggish…