Work

W+K: Hair Nah!

Portland

A provocative travel game that addresses a persistent problem for black women.

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The game was Pixel’s way of creatively expressing the frustrations that she and many black women feel when confronted with this type of invasion of personal space. The game’s bright colors and playful graphics are used to raise awareness of this pervasive and often uncomfortable issue faced by black women every day.

“It’s literally happened to every black girl I’ve met,” says Pixel. “Even while making this game it happened to me, multiple times. And I’m just like, ‘COME ON! When does it stop?’ Working on this game was such a breath of fresh air because it’s like, finally! I get to tell you, ‘No, stop touching me. Respect my space,’ before it happens—and in the most fun, chill, hilarious way.”

The 8-bit game begins with a prompt for players to create their avatar by choosing from an array of brown skin tones and various hairstyles. Once generated, players are asked to choose a destination for their avatar. She must pass four levels (apartment lobby, cab, airport security, and plane) to reach her destination in time. As she goes, a steady stream of invasive hands continually reach in to touch her hair from off-screen, slowing her down.

To win, the player must fill up the “Nah! meter” before time runs out by swatting away the encroaching hands. If the player fails to stop the hands or if time runs out, the avatar will miss her flight. But if a player makes it to the destination on time, the following message appears: “Way to go, girl! You made it. The game may be over, but this experience isn’t. It’s an issue that black women face daily. And to those who do it: STOP THAT SHIT.”

Results:

With $0 paid promotion and one tweet that went viral, Hair Nah! generated approximately 218,000 unique pageviews, 175,000 game plays, 70,000 social shares, 911 million impressions, 50 YouTube reaction videos, and 80+ press write-ups within two months of launching.

The media response:

“While the game is supposed to be fun and funny it does tackle a very serious issue experienced by countless Black women, daily. So in case anyone needs a reminder stop touching, speaking about, and Photoshopping our hair- Essence

“I can't stop playing it. Twitter can't stop talking about it. And the reason is simple: It's a powerful cultural statement in the guise of fast fun.” - Glamour

“The result is absolutely genius. Go ahead and get ready to cancel all of your plans today, because after playing Hair Nah, you're going to be addicted to this hilariously executed — and important — website.” - PopSugar

“Interactive game 'Hair Nah' made by W+K art director swats the microaggression of touching black women's hair” - The Drum

“There’s now a game where you can swat at thirsty hands anxious to touch textured hair like flies.” - Ebony

“A black female art director and pixel designer, gave black people the perfect way to channel our frustrations: the 8-bit video game Hair Nah.” - i-D

"‘Hair Nah’ Brings All Of Our ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ Fantasies to Life. Solange would be proud." - Ebony

“If you've had your hair touched without permission, play this game. If you've touched someone's hair without permission, play this game. If you're at your computer and have use of both your hands—you get the idea.” - Glamour