There’s a new game out and I’m here for it. It’s not Fifa18. It’s not the latest GTA. It’s not even Animal Crossing.
It’s called Hair Nah (see the play on words?), a game where a black woman has to swat a few hands away from her hair. The game was created by Momo Pixel, an art director who explains the game’s premise perfectly.
“We don’t have many video games with that kind of protagonist.”
“I made it to be more for black women. I wanted them to be able to play this game and have fun, and also use it as a type of therapy. I don’t think we really get opportunities of joy. We don’t have many video games with that kind of protagonist.”
The premise of Hair Nah is that a black woman named Aeva is going to the airport for a holiday. There are three levels, including the universally dreaded airport security system. You can select the holiday location, the skin tone and hairstyle of Aeva.
Each level has a time limit for the player to swat away the hands reaching towards Aeva’s mane. The intensity and frequency of the hands increases with each level. It does a great job of keeping you on your toes.
You can check out the game here at your own leisure: http://hairnah.com/
Unfortunately, this a problem that many, many black women deal with – strangers (usually white strangers) with a supposed inability to keep their hands to themselves just touch our hair without asking. Why do they feel compelled to invade our personal space like this? This is a question that is like asking “what is the meaning of life”? There are a lot of answers, but it boils down to one thing.
Black people’s hair has been politicised and scrutinised ad nauseum over the decades. There are several stories of young kids being sent home from school because of their hairstyles. In the workplace, black women are having to adopt straight hairstyles for fear of their professionalism being questioned at best or losing their jobs at worst. When you take these experiences into account, it’s no wonder black people’s hair has been othered and seen as something to be marvelled at.
“I felt emboldened to assert my personal space should future unwanted hair touching incidents take place.”
As a black woman who has dealt with this experience more than she’d care to admit, I fell in love with this game. I got a sense of relief at slapping the hands away, wondering why I wasn’t this brave in real life. I felt a kind of achievement when I completed the game, and felt emboldened to assert my personal space should future unwanted hair touching incidents take place. Momo is right; it IS a type of therapy.
While this game has some comedic elements, the message at the end says it all: black women are sick of strangers touching our hair without warning. It robs us of our personal space and bodily autonomy and it’s also annoying to deal with.
Like the last sentence at the conclusion of Hair Nah says, stop that sh*t.