When Dan Hett’s younger brother was killed in the Manchester Arena bombing, he embarked on a trilogy of autobiographical experimental video games about the experience and its aftermath
Scrolling through Twitter on his phone before going to sleep on 22 May 2017, Dan Hett saw a few vague mentions of an accident of some sort in Manchester: “no details, no actual news, just busybodies speculating.” He rubbed his eyes, removed his glasses and lay down without thinking about it any further. It wasn’t until he picked up his phone the following morning and saw hundreds of notifications that he realised something real had happened, that there had been an explosion, and that his brother Martyn was missing. “The messages, the ones you read … they were right, and you went to sleep,” said a voice in his head. “You went to fucking sleep.”
Hett describes this and his other experiences in the days following the Manchester Arena bombing in harrowing detail in his autobiographical hypertext game c ya laterrrr, which was released in December 2017. Written in the second-person, the game puts you in Hett’s shoes, combining detailed descriptions of what was going on in his head as escalating panic gave way to fear and anger, with small decisions for the player to make about how to behave. Do you call your mum or your dad? Do you press the police for more information or sit in numb silence? Do you wait for news at the emergency zone, packed with other exhausted, terrified families, or go home and wait there?