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"Language independence" means how free of text and other language dependency a game's components and gameplay are. (I.e. other than the rulebook, which is of course is written in some language.)

I.e. how easily can it be played by people who don't speak the language of the particular edition of the game? (Assuming they already know the rules and don't need to read the rulebook.)

Every game entry at BGG has a user poll for Language Independence with these options:

  • No necessary in-game text (e.g. Chess, Carcassonne have no text or other language dependency on their components)
  • Some necessary text - easily memorized or small crib sheet (e.g. cards with text titles but somewhat explanatory icons)
  • Moderate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups (e.g. many cards with various simple effects explained only as text)
  • Extensive use of text - massive conversion needed to be playable (e.g. many cards with long complex text, or a "choose your adventure"-style book of numbered paragraphs used during play)
  • Unplayable in another language (even more fundamentally dependent on a specific language, e.g. Scrabble cannot be meaningfully played by someone who does not speak the specific language of a given Scrabble edition)
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