Harrowing Ad About Kids in War Puts a Girl at the Center of a First-Person Shooter

War Child reminds you it isn't a game

Anyone who's ever played a war-themed video game like Call of Duty has effectively imagined what it might be like to be a soldier. But it's far less common for people to imagine themselves as children victimized by military conflict.

A potent new PSA from nonprofit humanitarian group War Child U.K. invites viewers to do just that by adapting the camera angle of first-person shooter computer and console games, and making the protagonist a girl named Nima who gets caught in the crossfire.

It goes almost without saying that the storyline is heartbreaking—all the more so because the scenarios are based on testimony from real children caught up in actual conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. The stylized approach is gripping in its own right, driving home the point that people aren't thinking seriously or often enough about protecting children—or, to put it differently, spending enough money on the issue.

At the same time, the secondary implication that video games trivialize warfare and inure players to its real human costs is also a hackneyed and generally ineffective argument that ends up becoming a bit of a red herring here.

Plus, the creators seem at moments to have gotten a little too carried away with the concept, like when Nima gets shot within an inch of her life then finds a magical first aid kit which she administers to herself before continuing on her mission. It's a sequence that strains a powerful metaphor into exactly the fantastical terrain it's criticizing, and risks making the issue seem less immediate. On the other hand, the ending doesn't leave any doubt.

If the spot does drive you to action, War Child is working to raise awareness around the issue leading into the World Humanitarian Summit.


Client: War Child U.K.

Agency: TOAD

Creative Directors: Guy Davidson, Daniel Clarke, Heydon Prowse

Production Company: Mother's Best Child

Director: Daniel Lucchesi

Co-Director: Heydon Prowse

Editor: Elliot Windsor

Producers: Heydon Prowse, Guy Davidson

Postproduction Coordinator: John Thompson

Special Effects Producer: Andy Ryder

Colorist: Jack McGinity, Time Based Arts

Postproduction: H&M Ogilvy One

Audio: Liam Conwell

Music: Jamie Perera