As a pro-bono campaign for People Opposing Woman Abuse (POWA), JWT Johannesburg creative duo, James Wylie and Chris Wellard, lead by creative director David Strappini, partnered with digital animation company Animate, to develop a PC game entitled ‘Beat Down'. The game highlights the defencelessness of abused women and illustrates the harsh reality one in four women face daily in South Africa.
Modelled on a typical arcade, one-on-one fighting match, the human player in the game is cast as a female character and pitted against the computer, a violent male aggressor. At the outset, ‘Beat Down' appears to be a normal, legit super-violent computer game, lulling the player into believing that the fight with the computer will be fair. The player soon realises their ‘punch and kick' controllers are inoperative and that ‘blocking' is no defence against the computer-controlled male opponent's harrowing onslaught.
Ultimately, the female character is left defenceless and brutally beaten, resulting in the player becoming frustrated and confused about not being able to fight back. The ‘game' cements the reality of physical abuse against women like no other ad could. It ends abruptly with a pop up title that reads, “1 in 4 women are in an abusive relationship. Call POWA if you want to fight back.”
“We found the animation option extremely effective in driving home the harsh reality of women abuse, as animation allows for a ‘softer' illustration of the brutal reckoning thousands of women across our country struggle with daily,” says Judy van Dam, JWT MD.