“A stunning artistic endeavor for a good cause. This game gives you chills when playing as a helpless child stumbling through her own blood vessels to escape malaria-infected bugs and contaminated body parts.” —juror Ginny Golden
“This is what happens when incredible design talent merges with an important cause: something that is too meaningful and magnificent to ignore.” —juror Tali Krakowsky
Overview: Through a partnership with the Against Malaria Foundation, Psyop designed and developed Nightmare: Malaria, an original game for iOS and Android. In the game, players make their way through eighteen levels of fever-dream visuals, avoiding killer mosquitoes and collecting hard-to-reach teddy bear tokens.
• The game was inspired by a PSA created by Establishment for the Greater Good (EGG), Psyop’s nonprofit educational initiative.
• Immersive sound by Q Department creates a haunting atmosphere for the game.
• Academy Award–winning actress Susan Sarandon provides narration for the game’s storyline.
Comments by Brian Kehrer:
What was the purpose of the project? “From a design perspective, the most important message to be communicated was that bed nets are the most cost-effective way to prevent malaria. Secondarily important was emphasizing the severity and dire consequences of contracting malaria in a developing nation. Based on those goals, we established game-play priorities. The game must first be fun; the player’s only objective is to stay alive, and the player cannot kill; each level will end quickly, either in success or death; players are safe when they are under a bed net; and finally, mosquitos should be terrifying.”
Was the project part of a larger promotional campaign? “The Nightmare: Malaria game is part of a multiplatform effort to bring awareness to the fact that bed nets work. The project began with an attempt to define success for all of the relevant stakeholders. The Against Malaria Foundation’s goal was, and is, to prevent the disease through the purchase of insecticide-treated bed nets, which takes money. The foundation is the most efficient distributor of long-lasting insecticidal nets in the world, and the game is a reminder that donating to the foundation is an incredibly effective way to save lives.”
What were the results? “Nightmare: Malaria launched on ‘Giving Tuesday,’ December 3, 2013. In the first week, there were 102,000 players, playing 145,000 sessions, with an average session length of 5 minutes, 9 seconds. More than half of the players were outside the United States, and there were 40,000 clicks through to the Against Malaria Foundation.”