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ackmondual
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I'd prefer not to make this into a thread about text vs. icons, as I'd like to drill into one of the reasons why icons are preferred. And no, I'm not saying one is better than the other from that statement.
 
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Geki
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I used to. However, my preference for icons is the immediacy. Seeing a symbol is quicker than reading a sentence or two.

Cleaner, more elegant, less distracting and, most importantly, allowing for faster turns and easier bird view approach.
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Bryan Thunkd
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ackmondual wrote:
I'd prefer not to make this into a thread about text vs. icons, as I'd like to drill into one of the reasons why icons are preferred.
As this is an english language site, you're going to get most of your responses from english-speaking gamers, which won't be particularly useful for answering this question.

The use of icons on cards/tiles/etc. means that a publisher can mass produce a game that's language independent and then later on print different rulebooks for all the different markets that require different languages. There have been a number of instances where a game is released in the US by one distributor and in Europe by another, but all the copies were printed in one print run. If a publisher needs to use english on some components and another language on another set, that requires two separate print runs at a lower volume for both.
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Nibble Wut?
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Sittingbourne
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Personally I prefer key words with clearly defined in-game meanings over lengthy descriptions or icons, but assume that icons are used as a cost saving exercise for multilingual/international editions of games?
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James Wahl
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I don't, but I'm sure non-English speakers do. The only non-English speakers I've played with were German, and in that case the German player aids came in the box, while the English ones were homemade. Also we had bilingual people at the table to translate the table talk.
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ackmondual
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Thunkd wrote:
ackmondual wrote:
I'd prefer not to make this into a thread about text vs. icons, as I'd like to drill into one of the reasons why icons are preferred.
As this is an english language site, you're going to get most of your responses from english-speaking gamers, which won't be particularly useful for answering this question.

The use of icons on cards/tiles/etc. means that a publisher can mass produce a game that's language independent and then later on print different rulebooks for all the different markets that require different languages. There have been a number of instances where a game is released in the US by one distributor and in Europe by another, but all the copies were printed in one print run. If a publisher needs to use english on some components and another language on another set, that requires two separate print runs at a lower volume for both.
That is another good point about publishing, but I've been confused with games that use icons, but then the card/tile names make them such that they need to be reprinted anyways
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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ackmondual wrote:
That is another good point about publishing, but I've been confused with games that use icons, but then the card/tile names make them such that they need to be reprinted anyways
If only the name is in English, and all the functional information is icons, then they can probably get away with a single printing and the foreign editions will make do with an English title.
 
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Keith Ibsen
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I often play with non native speakers and find games with little or no language dependency to be very useful.

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Dianne N.
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Seattle
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I play games with my Dutch family, and appreciate icons in games as long as the icons are intuitive. If they're not intuitive, it's not any better than the game being in a foreign language.

For instance, we brought Dino Hunt Dice with us to play with my 4 and 6 year old nephews and the icons were easy for them to understand. The rules were in English and their parents had trouble with how things were worded at times, but the game itself is accessible to everyone.

It goes both ways, though, as we usually leave with some Dutch language games and I appreciate icons for when I play. I don't fully understand rules that are written in Dutch and have trouble at times with how things are worded on cards. This didn't matter for the many Carcassonne expansions we bought, as there are intuitive icons that help me remember what to do and how things work, even if I have to trust my husband when it comes to scoring.
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Richard Keiser

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ackmondual wrote:
I'd prefer not to make this into a thread about text vs. icons, as I'd like to drill into one of the reasons why icons are preferred. And no, I'm not saying one is better than the other from that statement.


Yes. They are infinitely more useful for non-native players. Probably have played with players fluent in over 40 different languages, where English was not their primary.


On the flip, I have benefited greatly from icons when playing a non-English game. The number one question when a world wide game is sold?... Is it language independent. If the answer is Yes, then instant sale.

Games are global, or at least I'm assuming that a smart designer has planned, therefore instead of reprinting every game component for each language market, only a rulebook needs to be reprinted (or distributed). It's just smart planning.


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Tony C
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I don't know if I've ever played a game with someone who speaks no English.

As a longtime bookworm (I'm currently reading six books and subscribed to at least 20 magazines), I prefer flavor text and EFFECTIVE iconography.
I'm one of those for whom Race/Roll ftG's icons never clicked. But I like Guild Hall Fantasy's, for example.
Icons can provide more information and direction, more quickly, to a larger audience, and get people into a game more quickly. IF they're good.
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Bryan
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I don't play with non-english speakers, but I find it much easier to teach my 6 year old daughter a game using symbols than it does text. A perfect example is in welcome to the dungeon. The monster cards have symbols of the weapons that defeat them. This is easier to understand than reading the text on the weapon that reads defeat a monster with power 3 or less, and knowing that weapon can defeat the 2 power monster she is facing.
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Samo Oleami
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If folks live in continental Europe, then yes.

A lot of small countries here, multilangue editions are a must for publishers.
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Kerstin
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Well, being german, I play with tons of non-english speakers as especially the previous generation in my family either speaks no or very little english at all. Which is why I mostly buy german language games.

I do however also play with non-german colleagues (I work in Science and our lab is pretty international - we currently have 10 scientists in our group from 7 different countries) and the common language there is english, so I do REALLY appreciate especially the "gateway" type games that I can play with my family that speaks almost exclusively german as well as with my colleagues where our common language is english and german can be a bit of a challenge still.
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Claudio Coppini
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Yes, my main gaming partner so far has been my wife, which is Japanese and doesn't speak English, so language independent games are top priority for me.

As other commenters mentioned, I also think it's just the smartest way to go from a publishing point of view as well.
 
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Kathy Moyer
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My regular players all speak English, BUT we have aging eyes. A clear icon is much easier to see than small text. Just saying.
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Simona Dostalova
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Around 3/5 of the people I game with do speak English enough to understand most of the text and only occasionaly ask something. I only have to play translated or language independend games with the rest, sadly
 
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I play with three groups on a regular basis and used to be part of a gaming association.

Most of those people suck at speaking English. Like, big time.

Iconography does not tremendously help, as when they don't know the game, it's just a pain to understand and remember them, and the player sheet is in... English! But it allows them to ask what the symbol mean without giving too much information about the card they are asking the info about.

Text heavy games are a problem because, while they do understand the global meaning of a card, they don't necessarily understand the details, which are important as well. A good example of this is Seasons: Orb of Ragfield. One player did not understand that paying cards 5 crystals became mandatory for her.

I dislike icons except when they represent resources, such as in Star Realms or Mystic Vale. Otherwise I believe they narrow design space and restrict creativity. But they help you remember the whole effect of the card. I tend to miss effects on my cards and it sucks.

So to answer the subject: yes, they do help with non-
English-speaking players. They can ask information without giving away too much.

I still believe French people should learn English and that icons do not solve this problem. But this is about short-term vision and is another debate.
 
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John
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I've played a couple of games with non-native English speakers in the last few years but the people had very good English and in one case they knew the game already.

For me icons are about speed rather than language independence. I don't think I own or have played any games where the icons are obviously there primarily for language independence. Games like Race for the Galaxy, Star Realms & Discworld: Ankh-Morpork have icons but also text on cards. Games like Bohnanza*, Eight-Minute Empire & Lost Cities have only icons & numbers but replacing those with text would seem as strange as deck of cards with "Five of Clubs". Ok maybe I could just about see Eight-Minute Empire having cards which said "place 3 armies", "make up to army movements", "place a city" but I still doubt that language independence was the only or even primary reason they used icons. I can see that language independence may have been a factor in certain games success due to increased sales and decreased production costs.

* With the exception of the names of the beans in Bohnanza but I'm sure I could cope with German name of beans. Well my pronunciation might not be that good but hopefully I could place.
 
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Trevor Taylor
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FARINGDON
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Unless a game is highly thematic, I will choose symbols over text every time. Symbols produce a quicker recall and understanding of what's going on. Yes you might need to reference a cheat sheet the first few times, but once you 'get it' the game flows faster and people can identify what things do without having to read every card. La Isla and Guildhall are perfect examples of this.

I also like games that use symbols where possible, but aren't scared to use text when there's no other way, like Race for the Galaxy/Roll for the Galaxy, Discworld: Ankh-Morpork or even Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game.
 
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