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Good games for an international group?


Hey all,

I work with international university students and my office is planning on picking up some new games to get students from different countries hanging out with each other. So far we’ve got the usual selection of Scrabble, Jenga and of course hundreds of oral ice breakers which all go down a treat but I reckon there might be something more exciting out there.

Ideally the games need to be quite easy to explain, we don’t usually have a lot of time to play them and our students’ standard of English varies quite a lot. Similarly games that don’t require a lot of talking might be good too.
The main game that has come to mind for me so far is Skull, and maybe Codenames which would give students a chance to practice their English vocabulary.

Also if anyone is aware of any games which provide a framework for people to share their language or culture that would be really wonderful.

Thank you!


Dixit or its better-written cousin Mysterium seem like obvious choices.

The Resistance/Avalon could be interesting too.


Junk Art
Codenames Pictures
Flamme Rouge
Ticket to Ride
Camel Up
For Sale
Incan Gold

Most of these games have quite minimal rules, are very visually based or have clear cards. I’ve got quite a few international friends so I know this issue well.


I think Dixit and Mysterium are great suggestions.


Thanks so much! Will look into these and see what the rest of the office thinks :blush:


Might be a bit traditional, but maybe have a chess set lurking in the corner too :slight_smile:



In terms of sharing language or culture something like Funemployed may work, although it does require a lot of talking.


I have to respectfully disagree here. I’ve found that games that require interpretation of words in a multilingual setting can quickly go from rollicking fun to “why do we have to take so many English tests?” Most especially when the English level of the players varies so widely,
This would include games like Dixit, Mysterium, Scrabble, and regular Codenames.

If the object is to for everyone to practice English with all players understanding that English practice is the objective then these games are fine. Codenames pictures and Dixit both work great for that. Mysterium and Telestrations would be good as more advanced practice. Regular codenames is probably one of the most difficult unless you carefully curate the word set.

For just having fun, maybe they would work okay every once in a while. But, in my experience, for players with limited vocabulary in a work situation where power dynamics can easily come into play these types of games can be more stressful than fun.

Even simple social deduction games like One Night Werewolf or The Resistance can be very difficult for young people who are not used to questioning authority figures (Considering the OP’s statement about working with international students it seems likely some of the players will be young and also that supervisors may play along.). I am not saying these types of games can’t work at all. In fact they could be a good teaching tool to introduce players to the culture of the workplace/school. (For example the Resistance can be good for showing that the boss can lie/be wrong and that it is okay to call them out on it or not follow their instructions if you have information that contradicts them) But I strongly recommend planning well and paying close attention to make sure that everyone is not too stressed out by the activity.


Was going to suggest Dixit myself, and the only reason that I don’t suggest Mysterium is because I haven’t played it yet, but it looks ace.


I get what you’re saying, I guess my comparison was with my international friends with pretty solid (not perfect) English which I considered similar to what was being described in the OP. I mean I would never get my foreign friends to play scrabble, so if that’s going down a treat already it seems pretty reasonable to assume they’re confident in/or want to practice or push themselves in their English.


Do you have any suggestions for games for people whose English might not be so good?

Like I say it really does vary, some of these people are doing Masters and PhDs so obviously don’t need to worry about them but I can see where you’re coming from especially when it comes to the 17-18 year olds starting Foundation or Language courses!


Yesterday some of our social assistants walked some of the students through a game of Werewolves using a script before letting them run some games themselves. Everyone seemed to really love it so does anyone know of any similar games that can receive a similar treatment?

Thanks for everyone’s replies so much, I know I’m asking a lot!


Check BGG’s “language dependence” rating - that’s basically “how much of the game consists of parsing information on the components, as opposed to having it explained or reading a rulebook”.

I’ll say The Resistance again (broadly I think it does Werewolf right), but in particular everything can be explained up front before anyone has any secret information so if there are any questions people can ask them without giving themselves away.


I think we are looking for games with little or no written language and easy rules. Some think like Escape: Curse of the Temple is pretty easy to understand and has no written English components.

Also again I would suggest Dixit, I hope I am not sounding too much like a broken record. Every time we have people over it is always the first game that my gf suggests. As long as you have someone who is ok with translating then you will have a blast, and if translating fails it is usually funny as well.


Since this thread is a bit older I figured I give it a bump and see what’s come out since the last post.

To kick it off, I found amongst my group of internationals, Sushi Go to be quite quick to explain and understand without much needed explanation. So does our Italian version of Takenoko, I should note that most of us are not Italian.


Some other games to add to the list:

The Mind

Dixit, Sushi Go, Escape, Codenames: Pictures, and Flamme Rouge are also games I go to in mixed groups, depending on what kind of games people are into. Caveats: Dixit requires creativity, some language crossover, and people not to care too much who wins. Escape is too frantic for many, and actually requires a lot of high-speed communication to win. You have to know your audience.


Some other games that are quite easy to explain, no language requirements in the components, but are a delight to play that I would add to the list are:
-Cottage Garden
-Welcome To…

These games have really great range in terms of who can play and enjoy them. I’ve used them to teach English vocab to children, as gateway games for non-gamer friends and family, and I’ve brought them to gaming groups and they’ve been a hit every time. They are on the lighter side, but very satisfying puzzlers.