The pangolin could go extinct before most people realize it exists. Or, more to the point: It could go extinct because of that.

Do a quick YouTube search (P-A-N-G-O-L-I-N) and I’m sure you will like them, too.

Pangolins, it turns out, are pretty much invincible in the wild.

We’re their only credible threat.


— CNN.com

Serious Goals

  • Evoke interests of pangolins
  • Enrich knowledge of pangolins
  • Raise awareness of their biggest threat – poaching

Target Audience

The target audience for Pangolin! Protect or Poach? is Chinese teenagers and all teenagers who live in China aged between 14 and 25.Snip20170425_94

Mr. Shibao Wu, a member of IUCN(International Union for Conservation of Nature )’s pangolin team said, pangolins spend most of their life in caves, so it is very hard to do research on them. Many pangolins were supposed to live in China. Unfortunately, pangolins are disappearing quickly and we even don’t have a chance to know them, especially for today’s Chinese teenagers. The game “Pangolins! Protect or Poach?” emerges as the times require, giving Chinese teenagers a chance to get to know more about pangolins. Recently, many voices of strong denunciation against pangolin poaching and eating can be seen in Chinese social media, which also show the needs and interests of knowing pangolins.

Gameplay Summary

To play the game, players roll the dice to decide who is the protector and who is the poacher. These two opposite roles create an intense competition, which also simulates the real-life situation. They have the same goal, which is to roll the dice and try to land in the square with animal token. 20 animal tokens are placed randomly by players themselves at the beginning, on opposite face. Once the player lands in the square with animal token, they get a chance to pick a quiz card and answer it. And only when the player answer the quiz correctly can they get the animal token and see whether it is a cute pangolin.


Panel 1


Problem Statement

Endangered status

In around 1995, pangolins in China has already become commercially extinct, which means the decline in the population of pangolin in China, used as a resource, to a level where It’s no longer profitable to harvest the species. However, commercial extinction hasn’t stopped those diabolic claws stretching to those lovely pangolins. Pangolins are trafficked by the thousands for their scales, which are boiled off their bodies for use in traditional medicine; for their meat, which is a high-end delicacy in China; and for their blood, which is seen as a healing tonic.

Sources: TRAFFIC, South Africa and IUCN.

Note: Rhino numbers are for South Africa only.

Lack of knowledge

In fact, people don’t know pangolins well. There’s not been enough research on what pangolins eat in the wild to know for certain what their caregivers should feed them in captivity. And the stress of captivity alone can be fatal. Pangolins are critically endangered but people don’t even have a chance to know them.

Target Audience

This game is designed for Chinese teenagers aged between 14 and 25, who usually go to middle school or college. This game is appropriate for spare time, which can be played after class.

Why Chinese teenagers?

First, both common sense and view of value need to be established early. Teenagers are the hope and future of a nation. Their moral state directly decides the future development and civilized level of a nation.

Second, according to 2015 Chinese social media development report by Kaidu, Chinese social media’s biggest user group are the generation after 90s. Recently, many voices of strong denunciation against pangolin poaching and eating can be seen in Chinese social media, which also show the Chinese teenagers’ needs and interests of knowing pangolins.

Ouroboros Magic Circle

Identify key elements of your game design that particularly enhance the Player Experience, and those that most strongly support the serious goals/outcomes. Include the Ouroboros graphic.


  • During Game Context
    • Pangolin! Protect or Poach? relates to real life because it educates players about facts of pangolins. All the quiz card questions are related to real life.
    • The challenge, barriers and roles are set based on real life.
  • Conflict or Challenge
    • The challenge of the game is directly related to how quickly a player overcome both of the objective and artificial barriers, land in the square with pangolin token and answer the quiz correctly.
    • Competing with the opposite role fosters players to experience the  severity of the problems of pangolin poaching.
  • Post-Game Context
    • Players can look back and see the right answers to quiz cards and strengthen their knowledge of pangolins.
    • Players know refuse and report the pangolin products if they meet any.
  • Mechanics
    • As a game mechanic, both the poacher and protector want to find the pangolin quickly, the best way is to know pangolins well, which is answering quiz cards correctly in the game. Both of the role can set up barriers to slow down the competitor.

Content Sources

John D. Sutter. (2013) The Most Trafficked Mammal You Have Never Heard Of. CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/04/opinion/sutter-change-the-list-pangolin-trafficking/

Wu, S., Ma, G., Tang, M., Chen, H., & Liu, F. (2002). The Status and Conservation Strategy of Pangolin Resource in China. Journal of Natural Resources, 17(2), 174–180.

Feidieshuo (2017, February 24). Things You Do Not Know about Pangolins. Retrieved from http://www.meipai.com/media/670321670?from=weixin

Other sources include discussions based on social media platform which have shown the needs and interests of knowing pangolins.

Playful Design – John Ferrara

The idea of setting up a bad role- poacher is inspired by the game Sweatshop mentioned in Dr. Carrie Heeter’s video. (Swaetshop: http://www.playsweatshop.com/)


My game is designed to improve Chinese teenager’s knowledge of pangolins and raise their awareness of the problem of pangolin poaching. Through the game, importance and weakness of pangolins can be distributed. In that way, the game can foster players to think more about pangolin protection.


  • Two opposite role play creates intense competition, which makes the game very engaging.
  • Some “stupid” options in the quiz cards also make players laugh.
  • Finding and learning facts about pangolin that wasn’t known before is fun.
  • Unknown animal cards makes the game fun.


Fish Tank

The theory states that compared to the ocean, a fish tank could be an easy version of the big game.  Pangolin! Protect or Poach? simulates easy situation of the real world.

Role Taking

The theory states that having players experience a situation in the game can be educational and persuasive. Pangolin! Protect or Poach? offers two roles –protector and poacher– for players to take.

Situated Learning

The theory states that players are supposed to learn in the same or similar context to where and how the knowledge will actually be used. Pangolin! Protect or Poach? provides players a similar context that people will kill or protect pangolins.

Extrinsic Motivation

The theory of Extrinsic Motivation states that individuals are motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity in order to earn a reward or avoid a punishment (Ryan & Deci, 2000).  All players of Pangolin! Protect or Poach? have a goal to get more pangolins and win. Also, they can collect different animal tokens as rewards.