geeky projects

The Process Behind a Board Game Translation
Sep 13, 2023

Aloha, Geekmeisters!

Have you ever wondered exactly how The Geeky Pen handles the localization of board games on a daily basis?

Let’s look at a case study of Tabriz, a game by Crafty Games.

The Geeky Pen was hired to localize the game in German and Farsi. Here’s how we did it.

1. Stripping the source file formatting

Usually, we receive the client’s source file in PDF or Word format. Because PDFs contain lots of different images, fonts, and unusual text placement, it’s impossible to simply import and export a PDF rulebook to and from our translation software.

So the first thing we need to do, is to strip the original file of its formatting and place everything in a clean translation table. Not only does this help our translation software, it also significantly reduces the margin for error later on in the process. Because everything is pasted into cells, the graphic designer will be able to integrate everything in the correct spot once the translation is finished.

Once the text has been transferred to a translation table, the original formatting, such as bold font, italics and text color is added back in.

2. Assigning tasks in Basecamp

At The Geeky Pen, we use Basecamp to manage our teams. Once the stripped source file is ready, we assign the right translator to the job, and give them detailed instructions and a deadline.

All of our translation teams work on two separate files that are indefinitely stored online, in a Google Drive that’s also accessible to the client. The first file is the translation table, which the translators can download to their computers and load into their translation software.

The second is an Excel sheet that gathers all the questions and errors our teams find in the original text. This file will be forwarded to the client after the translation process, so let’s look at this more closely now.

3. The Translation Phase

All of our translators and proofreaders have a linguistic degree and use professional translation software such as SDL Trados or MemoQ. Don’t confuse these expensive pieces of software with free online machine translation tools such as Google Translate.

Translation software stores a translator’s work in a personal translation memory, which can be used to ensure consistency in future localization projects.

Once the translation teams are finished, the online Excel sheet containing questions and errors they have gathered is forwarded to the client. After the client has provided their feedback, the translators go over the entire list again and implement the changes.

Not only does this ensure consistency between the various languages, but it also effectively serves as a (collective) proofreading round for the original source text.

4. The Proofreading Phase

After the translation step is finished, a separate proofreader (also with a linguistic degree) meticulously checks the translation. If the proofreading teams run into any further questions or errors in the source material, they can add their own comments to the Excel sheet. If necessary, we will send the Excel sheet to the client a second time after this phase.

5. InDesign integration (optional)

Once the proofreading phase is over, the translation is effectively finished. Here’s where the client has two options.

Either they take care of integrating the text into InDesign themselves, or they can hire The Geeky Pen to do it – as was the case for Tabriz.

Just like our translators, all our graphic designers are professionals who have experience dealing with rulebooks.

6. Final PDF Check

Once the translations have been pasted into the PDF, the translator and proofreader of each localization team go over the rulebook again. They make sure everything is in the right place, contains the correct formatting, and that no sentences or titles were left in the source language. Any errors our teams find are entered into the Excel file and forwarded to the client.

Are you interested in working with us?
At The Geeky Pen, you can expect the following:

  • Translation by a freelance translator with a linguistic degree and ample board gaming experience
  • Proofreading by a separate professional translator, with similar credentials
  • Final PDF Check by these two translators
  • Full Project Management

Send us your rulebook, and receive your free quote within 48 hours!


“Working with The Geeky Pen was an absolute joy. They were communicative, engaged, and true professionals all the way through the project. Their prices are great, their quoting process was a breeze, and their graphic design add-on is well worth the extra spend! We can’t recommend working with them highly enough.”

Patrick K. – Crafty Games

jo lefebure board game transalator
Jo Lefebure

Jo is the founder and CEO of The Geeky Pen. Aside from board games, he enjoys playing the guitar and spending time with his family. His favorite game is Detective: City of Angels.

written by
Jo Lefebure
Jo is the founder and CEO of The Geeky Pen. Aside from board games, he enjoys playing the guitar and spending time with his family. His favorite game is Detective: City of Angels.