The most annoying thing that you can do to a woman whose just gotten her hair fried, dyed, and laid to the side is touch it; especially if she didn’t give you permission to do so. After moving to Portland, Oregon in 2016, Momo Pixel was greeted with a not so pleasant surprise; awkward hair-touching. With Portland being a predominantly white area, it’s not every day that you’ll run into a black woman who embraces her natural coils and all its glory so naturally, this could spark curiosity and may even make some people begin to touch or play with black hair. However, that uncontrollable curiosity one may possess doesn’t make it okay to touch our hair.
Momo Pixel came up with the brilliant idea to create a gaming app to bring awareness to the issue of unwanted hair touching. And after long nights, panic attacks, and an overwhelming 10 months of non-stop creation, Hair Nah was released to the public. Pixel, an art director at Weiden + Kennedy was already familiar with graphics but still was open to having a team to help her create the game. Pixel decided to hire a team of skilled professionals to assist her in the creation of her gaming masterpiece. Momo created and designed most features on the game but tech savvy professionals like Trent Johnson, Allison Berg, Ritchie Richard, Mulu Habtemariam, and animator Oliver Rokoff also played huge roles in the creation of the Hair Nah.
Exclusive Interview with Momo Pixel:
What was the motive behind the gaming app?
I had just moved to Portland, Oregon in 2016 and for the first time ever people were touching my hair. Honestly, I was shocked! I never had anyone just come up to me and touch my hair. I was living in New York before I moved to Oregon so I was seeing way more black people there. Moving to Portland was a huge transition. I would only see white people on a day-to-day basis. I guess if I did see a black person I would run up to touch them too! One day I went to work and started telling my boss about the issue I was having with people touching my hair. I thought to myself like “I should make a game!” My boss was white so he couldn’t relate much, but he thought the idea of the game was genius.
How long did the process of creating the game take?
The process was long; it took about 10 months to complete the game. I pulled several all-nighters, and even had a panic attack during the process. I took breaks here and there, and had help from several professionals who assisted me with the animations, music, and the writing. I even asked friends for their opinions on what I should add or leave out of the game. Some friends suggested I add more hairstyles and I thought “that’ll be dope!” I’m a firm believer in “Teamwork making the dream work; I definitely couldn’t have finished the game without them.
Could you describe the game to me? What is the objective of Hair Nah?
I’m basically just trying to help a black girl get through her day without someone invading her privacy. I mean that’s what we’re all trying to do anyway is get through our day. I had an animator create the white hands, and I created the character and had common black hairstyles for players to choose from. Players can also choose different skin tones to customize their character. The player basically is trying to stop the white hands from touching the character’s hair within the allotted time so the player can make it to her flight on time.
Did the game start any racial controversy?
No, not at all. I have all racist comments blocked from my social media pages anyway, so I really wouldn’t be able to see them. I’ve actually had white people message me saying thanks for bringing awareness to this issue; I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from everyone.
Did you think that creating this game would capture the attention of media outlets as big as CNN?
I knew the game was going to go viral. I just don’t understand why I had to make a game for people to realize that this was an issue. I think the natural hair movement played a huge role in the unwanted hair touching. We as black women were just beginning to see what our own natural hair texture was like, so I totally understand why white people were fascinated with our hair. There are articles about Hair Nah in Berlin, France, and even the UK. The issue is a positive and negative but I’m glad people are finally realizing that this isn’t okay.
Will you create more games in the future?
“Hell yea!” I want to create another game and title it Momo Land. I’m an art director at an Advertising Agency in Portland so I’m familiar with graphics. I’ll be creating Momo Land soon.