Stumbling around the internet doesn’t always lead to finding a gem like Hair Nah, but I’m glad I did. I saw screenshots of a girl swatting hands away that reached for her hair – Mortal Kombat style. I had to know more! What was this glorious game?
To catch you up to speed, Hair Nah is a video game created you play right in your browser. It’s a shining star in a sea of bad video game news. The main character of the game is Aeva, a Black woman who loves to travel. On these travels, Aeva often encounters strangers who cannot keep their hands off her hair. She’s got to work hard and swat away prying hands before time runs out!
This game was just as fun to play as it was relatable, and I needed to know who was behind it. Who was taking unsolicited hair touching, a well-known experience that many Black women face, and took the time to really poke fun at it? Enter video game creator Momo Pixel.
Momo is just someone out of my nerdiest dreams. The first thing I notice is that in every picture, her braids are always different, beautiful, and bright colors. She wears a big smile and it just warms your heart. So, I worked up the courage to ask this fun, bright video game creator all about this game and how it came to be. Take a second and play the game before diving into the interview below.
Quinzel Lee: What actually got you interested in designing video games?
Momo Pixel: “Hmm. Well I got interested in pixels which got me into designing games. I’ve always loved video games but I don’t think I ever thought of it as a feature in my future until I started building with perler beads. In 2012 I started making little bead sprites and necklaces. Then that turned into me creating 3D works of art. As my skill set got better with the physical pixels and I eventually ventured into digital pixels. I started by commissioning other pixel artists at first, like Kirokaze. Then I learned to design my own stuff. Designing a game just kinda happened because my aesthetic fits. I had an idea to make Hair Nah into a game so I designed it. Haha and now I’m a game designer. It’s dope!”
QL: We know that unsolicited hair touching is a common issue for many WOC. Was there a specific incident that inspired “Hair Nah”?
MP: “I wouldn’t say there was one specific incident. I would say it’s just my overall move to Portland. Once I moved here my hair was touched all the time. I really had never experienced my hair being touched without permission like I do here. I just wasn’t prepared for the blatant disrespect. I think when I first got here I was mad all the time because my personal space was always disrupted when I walked outside or went to the store.”
QL: You have a small but mighty team of folks who helped you put this game together. What were their initial reactions when you pitched the game to them?
MP: “Haha they were stoked! Especially the producer Ritchie. He really is like the MVP. He helped me map out all the UX/UI. Haha I remember I had a panic attack because there was so much work to be done. Then it was just awesome working with folks from different backgrounds who believed in the message of the game. The developer Trent, animator Oliver, and assistant designer Allison were all white. So for them to be just as for this game as I was, was really amazing. It was a dope group of people. Couldn’t of [sic] had a better team.”
QL: Tell me the about the positive reactions you have gotten from fans of the game. Do any fan reactions stand out in particular?
MP: “Hmmm. I think my favorite reactions are the personal stories. One guy said he shared this with his friend who it always happens to. A woman told me how it was therapeutic for her and helped her get through her holidays. Another guy told me he gave the game to his dad because he always plays in his hair. Haha and the dad couldn’t make it past the first level. I just really enjoy the personal stories and the YOUTUBE VIDEO REACTIONS!! Those are so dope!!”
QL: Finally, what are some projects that we can look forward to seeing from you in the future?
MP: “I have a music project dropping on Friday titled “because. me too.” It’s a really personal project that I’ve been working on since April. When that me too movement happened and it gave me the name for it. I also have an event I have called Momoland coming up in March. We are on our 4th level which is super awesome! Level 4 will be themed around arcade games and the audience will have to put giant Momoland quarters into the stage for the show to start.”
What are you waiting for? Head over to the site and play Hair Nah right now! Also, tell us what you think in the comments.