Rescue Roscoe

Sara Pehrsson




| Instructional Objective | Learners & Context | Object of Game | Game Materials |

| Time Required | Rules | Design Process | References |

Instructional Objective


The instructional objective of this game is to help learners understand the needs of and the issues surrounding companion animals. It will also encourage discussion of animal welfare topics such as pet overpopulation, animal abuse, responsible guardianship, and the human/animal bond.

Learners & Context of Use


The game is designed for learners 11-14 years of age. Because the subject matter involves issues of death and sexual reproduction, it is probably not appropriate to play this game with younger students (at least, not without parent approval).

Players may be individuals or teams of two. The game requires two to four players. Prior to the game, students would spend some time studying concepts related to companion animals and responsible guardianship.

There are two levels of play. As the players travel around the board, they must answer questions posed on "Knowledge Cards." Each card has a fact-based question. For a simpler level of play, the cards offer multiple choice responses which may be read as part of the question. For a more advanced level of play, players can be required to answer the questions without benefit of the multiple choice format.

Object of the Game


The object of the game is to be the first to identify Roscoe, a lost family pet, so that he may be rescued from the local animal shelter.

Game Materials

  • Game board
  • 4 markers
  • Stack of 80 Knowledge Cards
  • Stack of 40 Compassion Cards
  • Dice
  • 12 ID tag discs
  • Pre-printed ID sheets to write down information collected

Examples of materials:

Compassion Cards

Card Text

Q: You are walking in your neighborhood and you see a dog wandering with no one supervising him. What do you do?

Judge a response compassionate if it includes a way to find the dog's owner, or get him to an animal shelter.

A response is not compassionate if it involves chasing or ignoring the dog.

Knowledge Cards

Card Text

Q: True or False: A female cat and her offspring could produce 420,000 cats in only 7 years.

A. true

B. false

The answer is A: TRUE. This is why it is so important to spay or neuter your pet. Thousands of healthy kittens are euthanized each year because there are not enough homes for them.

ID Sheet

Game Board

The game board is similar in layout to the "Whodunit" game board. Each corner has a cluster of 3 ID tags (1 clue per ID tag). Each group of 3 clues holds a certain type of information: Who Rosco is, When Roscoe was lost, or Why Roscoe was lost. The track runs around the board and passes through each of these corners so that players may collect the information.

The track has 3 types of spaces on the track. Spaces with paw prints require the player to answer a question from a Knowledge Card. Spaces with hearts require the player to respond to a Compassion Card. There are two paw print spaces for every heart space. Spaces next to an ID Tag clue are marked "ID," and allow the player to look at the clue on the adjacent tag, which lays face down on the board.

Knowledge Cards are cards with questions about facts and concepts related to pets. The questions are multiple choice, and the correct answer is indicated on the card. The player must answer the question correctly, or he/she will lose his/her next turn. There is a spot for the Knowledge Card stack on the game board. Used Knowledge Cards are set aside.

Compassion Cards present a more abstract question or discussion topic. The player must respond to the issue stated. The response is judged by the other players as "compassionate" or "not compassionate." If judged not compassionate, the player loses his or her next turn. The card contains hints for the judging players about what may constitute a compassionate response. There is a spot on the game board for the stack of Compassion Cards. Used Compassion Cards are set aside.

The dice are used to determine the number of spaces a player may move at each turn.



Time Required


The game would take only a few minutes to set up. Play would take approximately 1 to 2 hours, though this depends on the number of players and their level of knowledge.


The Rules


  1. 2-4 players; 4-8 if two-person teams play
  2. Goal is to collect a complete set of identifying information from each corner of the board, then travel back to the Start corner (the corner marked "Rescue Roscoe") to rescue Roscoe by announcing Roscoe's identifying information.
  3. Before play begins, players must decide if they want to use the simple or the advanced level of play. For the simple level of play, the multiple choice options on the Knowledge Cards are read to the responding player. For the advanced level of play, the Knowledge Card question is read without the support of the multiple choice options. Otherwise, all rules remain the same for both levels.
  4. The board is set up by placing 3 (from each set of 4) color-coded ID tags face down in each corner. The fourth disc in each set is not used and should be set aside without looking at them. The Knowledge Cards and Compassion Cards are placed face down in the middle of the board. All players begin with their tokens in the corner of the board marked "Rescue Roscoe."
  5. Each player or team's turn begins by rolling the dice. Player moves his/her marker the number of spaces indicated. Movement may be in any direction, but you can't change direction within a turn.
  6. If the player lands on a paw space, the player to the left picks up a Knowledge Card from the top of the stack and reads it aloud, (including the multiple choice options if the simple level of play has been decided upon). The player or team answers the question. Reader checks the answer against correct response printed on card. If response is incorrect, player or team loses a turn. The used Knowledge Card is set aside.
  7. If the player lands on a heart space, the player to the left picks up a Compassion Card and reads it aloud. The player or team must respond to the question or issue on the Compassion Card. When the player has completed his/her response, the other players vote to decide if the response was "compassionate" or "not compassionate." If the vote is "not compassionate," the player loses a turn. The used Compassion Card is set aside.
  8. An ID Clue is reached when the player's token lands on a space marked "ID." The player then picks up the clue disc adjacent to the space, marks the information on his/her ID Sheet, and replaces the disc face down.
  9. When a player or team has collected all of the information from the ID tags, they travel back to the Rescue Roscoe corner from whence they started. They must roll the exact number of spaces on the dice to land on the Rescue Roscoe space.
  10. The first player to reach the Rescue Roscoe space announces the results of the ID tags to rescue Roscoe. The announcement will be stated as follows: "Roscoe is a ...[give the type of animal indicated by all three clues being marked under "Who" on the ID sheet]. Roscoe was lost ... [give the length of time indicated by all three clues being marked under "When" on the ID sheet]. Roscoe was lost because... [give the reason indicated by all three clues being marked under "Why" on the ID sheet]."
  11. If the information is correct (meaning that other players have marked information that agrees with the information just stated), the player wins. If the information is not correct, the dissenting player must state why he or she believes it is not correct. The player in the Rescue Roscoe space may check the ID tags in question. If the player in the Rescue Roscoe space has made a mistake, he or she forfeits the game, and the next player to enter the Rescue Roscoe space then gets the opportunity to announce the information about Roscoe. Play continues in this way until a player gets to the Rescue Roscoe space and provides the correct information about Roscoe.


Design Process


I started out imagining a very different type of game than what I ended up with. I began with a more limited instructional objective, which was to have players understand the problems associated with pet overpopulation. As I began to work with this objective, I considered a Jenga type game that would represent the difficulties of "balancing" an unending and multiplying supply of cats and dogs. This didn't seem to have much substance to it though, so I decided to expand the instructional objective to allow a more multi-faceted game. Hence, pet overpopulation became a subtopic of companion animals in general.

I gathered information by visiting web sites devoted to animal rescue and adoption, such as the Humane Society of the United States. These helped me develop the two-sided approach to learning in the game. One is the knowledge side, represented by the Knowledge Cards, which help players learn about facts related to companion animals. The other side is the role of compassion when dealing with animals. I used the Compassion Cards to help players develop a deeper understanding of and more compassionate attitude toward animals.

When I changed from the "pet overpopulation" objective to the broader one, I still wanted to keep a focus on the plight of homeless animals. So, the game became similar to Whodunnit, except that the goal is to find information to rescue a lost pet instead of clues to identify a murderer.



  • Whodunit (c) 1972 by Selchow & Righter Co.



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Special thanks to Joe Muellerleile for the electronic representation of the game board.

Last updated October 22 2000