Design for Animals.

This is a game I came up with in 2011 when I was writing my master’s thesis and exploring ways of creative collaboration. Since then I played it with fellow students, friends at dinner, work colleagues, classes I was teaching at and it brought a lot joy to all the teams I played with so far and I got really great feedback.


The game takes 45 minutes to one hour for a group size of 6-10 and depends on how many people is involved. If there is a bigger group like a class of 40, you can get them into smaller groups of 8 which will need to present to their individual groups rather than everyone.

First 10-15 minutes is the introduction to the game and set up. The drawing usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes. Presentation takes around 15 minutes. You may want play the game as an ice-breaker activity at the very beginning or at the very end in a team activity day.

How to prepare:

  • Download the list of animals and objects from here. Originally I thought of this game with animals and objects only. But now I developed the places / venues as well as digital apps version of it. All downloadable from below the page. If you think you like to add more to these lists, you can also get the link to my Google Slides document from below, create a copy in your drive and add to the table yourself.

  • Print them on a sheet paper on A4, one sided. Cut them from the table borders and fold them into 2 or 3. No specifics on what kind of paper you should use, standard 120 gsm should be OK.

  • Have a little bucket for each. A4 envelope or plastic sleeve to keep the animals in one, and another one to keep objects. Little buckets work best.

  • Materials and setting: Put papers and crayons in the middle of the table with the buckets. Crayola Waterproof crayons proved to work perfect until now, enough range of colours and good thickness as well as good value (around £3-5 per package). If participants get too excited and the workshop goes wild, being waterproof makes it easily erasable. Get slightly thicker A4 paper for the workshop because some people may want to prototype their ideas in 3D rather than to draw on them. 250-350 gsm paper works much better than a 120 gsm.

  • You may also want to get some prototyping stuff however I usually don’t because it distracts people from their creative thoughts. Instead they think about what is doable and what is not with the material. Drawing in this instance is the best to get the creativity out of them.

How it is played:

  • Introduce participants to the game: It is about understanding your user’s needs and coming up with creative solutions. They will need to select 1 piece of paper from each of the 2 buckets. One bucket has a list of animals and the other one has objects. Ask them to pick up a paper and crayons.

  • The game is about thinking as the animal is your user/client who can’t really speak so you need to understand the pain points, the needs and wants of your client. The best example I usually prefer to give – which seemed to work until now – is to make them think about ‘Dog’ and ‘TV’. A dog is colour blind and it’s ability to smell is much stronger than sight. Therefore you may want to think of B&W TV that works with odors and scents.

  • Ask your participant consider animal’s environment, abilities, capabilities. Ask them to consider where it lives, what it eats, how it may want to or need to use that particular object. Obviously this meant to be a fun workshop and no need to be that serious about considering animal’s all affordances! Everyone encouraged to be wild like our users and come up with as many creative ideas as they like.

  • Once all is set. Tell them that they are allowed and encouraged to do research online. They can check the wikipedia page of the species to get to understand it better.

  • Ask participants to write their names, the object and the animal on top of their paper. This particularly helps, when you take scans or photos of their designs after the workshop and remember who did what.

  • Ask participants to write the decision making process behind their designs on paper. They can take notes on the research they have done, make mind maps, graphs etc.

Finishing up:

If you are a facilitator, I would also encourage you to keep the papers in envelops until you next what to play the game. Also scan or take photos of the images. Ask people not to throw the paper pieces so you can reuse them with making sure that you put them into the right buckets.

List of Animals: Here is your list of animals, these are your users! If you need to have more access to animals here is a good list with common names and species names. I would recommend not to put more of similar species but have a range from birds to mammals, sea animals and insects. (I also included few fictional creatures on my list to make it fun 🙂

Objects for Animals: This game will delight your fellow product designers and user experience designers. It gives the best results when played with UX design team! They absolutely loved it.

Places for Animals: Best way to make use of this game is to play it with architects and interior designers. You can find a range of places from hospitals to wax museum which will delight your team.

Apps for Animals: I haven’t really played this version of the game yet however I am putting it here just in case someone likes to play with fellow Service / UX / Web / UI designers in their team.

Copyright © Design for Good / Crayon Club Limited.

You will be in trouble if you try commercialize this game to make money out of it and mess up with it’s gift economy!