Have you ever heard of a pangolin?
We hadn’t either until we set out to make Nobody’s Favorites, a game that highlights the world’s weirdest, most unpopular, most marginalized animals. The pangolin fits the bill on all of the above. It’s pretty much the poster-child for unpopularity.
Although they are covered in hard reptilian scales, pangolins are mammals. They aren’t particularly attractive, strong, intelligent, or impressive. They quietly shuffle through their lives slurping up ants and termites by the thousands. They walk with their clawed hands tucked up to their chests, in a comically awkward, hunched-over posture. And when threatened, they roll up into a protective ball that would make Samus Aran jealous. Even lions can’t bite through the pangolin’s armor!
This protective habit also makes them very easy for poachers to scoop up and stuff into a sack. All eight species of pangolins are on the verge of being hunted to extinction. In the ever-growing crowd of endangered animals, the more attractive creatures tend to get the attention and the funding needed to bring them back from the brink, while unpopular animals, such as the pangolin, continue to suffer and decline. Many Asian pangolin species are so threatened, as a matter of fact, that it may be too late to save them without taking urgent measures.
As we researched the animals that would become characters for Nobody’s Favorites, we read about many sad and desperate situations that animals around the world encounter. But this article about pangolins by CNN author, John Sutter, really struck a chord with us. As a small indie game studio struggling to make our voice heard amidst a densely-packed industry, we immediately sympathized with the pangolin’s plight. We also knew that we had the perfect opportunity to do something about it.
And, incidentally, this Saturday happens to be World Pangolin Day! So in honor of these under-appreciated, adorably awkward creatures, we’ll be posting articles, updates, artwork, and announcements about pangolins and their role in our upcoming game. We want to make sure pangolins won’t be “Nobody’s Favorite” ever again!