Binge Thinking is an interactive course educating uni students about alcohol consumption

Featuring illustrations from Monique Wray, Catharsis Productions has partnered with 50,000feet to publish an online course on the topic of alcohol consumption and abuse.

4 February 2021

Binge Thinking is an alcohol abuse prevention initiative launched by creative agency 50,000feet and consulting firm Catharsis Productions. A digital education programming platform, the initiative is aimed at university students and promotes a healthy relationship and understanding of alcohol – achieved through a 45-minute Binge Thinking course, led by fictional narrator Veronica and a cast of illustrated characters.

The initiative follows the success of Catharsis’ previous work on sexual harassment, having been recognised for its work with Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Rape Victims Associates, Campus Activities Magazine and now Binge Thinking, formed as part of the US Army’s Basic Training programme.

The visuals feature four characters illustrated by Monique Wray, while 50,000feet led the creative direction and developed the final scene animations. Meanwhile, Articulate 360, an e-learning authoring platform, assisted with developing the audio recording. Users can navigate through the platform and engage in an interactive game, all the while answering questions and responding to exercises that are tailored to their own personal relationship with alcohol.

On the topic of the brief, Catharsis provided the written materials and tasked 50,000feet to develop and publish an online course, that which educates university students about alcohol. “The bigger task underlying the refinement of the curriculum’s creative approach was to deliver a simple yet effective design system that would provide Catharsis a repeatable and cohesive approach for future coursework,” says Tracy West, group creative director at 50,000feet. “Ultimately, scalability and affordability were important factors in the creative and technical execution.”


Catharsis and 50,000feet: Binge Thinking (Copyright © Catharsis and 50,000feet, 2021)

“Binge Thinking needed to challenge stereotypes and cultural attitudes towards alcohol consumption and abuse – a topic prevalent on college campuses – while maintaining a disarming and approachable delivery,” continues Tracy. The illustrative style and photographic cutouts aim to add to this playful and less-serious tone of voice, making the script and message easier to digest. To help achieve this, Monique was tasked with developing the characters – an illustrator who has experience in digital renderings and working with diversity in mind. “We wanted to partner with an illustrator whose hand-drawn doodles felt more gestural than realistic, and avoided any overly produced look,” says Tracy. Additionally, 50,000feet onboarded account manager Elizabeth Koskiewicz to create a series of symbols and background scenes for the initiative.

50,000feet went through ADA Compliance training to apply best practices for digital accessibility, while storyboards and animations were reviewed throughout the process by Level Access to “help ensure [they] were meeting compliance standards for inclusive design,” says Tracy. The team focused on accessibility as a key factor in the making, including colour, contrast, typography, scale and content delivery. “The script and design needed to have a universal comprehension level, avoiding overly complex words and concepts.”

As for further considerations, Tracy adds: “Designing to address sexual assault, harassment, bias and substance abuse can be challenging. In this case, we depicted common alcohol-driven situations and pressures students go through on and off campus during college. The illustrations and animations needed to balance funny vs satire, as well as not glamorising the consumptions. The photographic cutout and hand-drawn characters needed to represent a full range of human diversity.”

GalleryCatharsis and 50,000feet: Binge Thinking (Copyright © Catharsis and 50,000feet, 2021)

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Catharsis and 50,000feet: Binge Thinking (Copyright © Catharsis and 50,000feet, 2021)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

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