The Loss Levels

“The Loss Levels” by Dan Hett.

“[A] series of fifteen narrative microgames, exploring aspects of my experience during the 2017 terrorist attack, in which I lost my brother Martyn.”


What do you associate with video games? Is it joy, action, immersion, escapism? Very rarely not only we as players, but also developers allow this medium to be a place of sorrow and sadness. But one year after Martyn Hett died as one of the 22 concert-goers in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, his brother Dan Hett decided to make a game about this loss and how he dealt with it.

In the form of fifteen short ‘mini games’, we become the witness of a bitter, emotional chronology: The anxiety when you check the news and your loved ones can’t be reached, the waiting for a message that won’t come, the numb feeling inside yourself after they found their body, the coping, the sometimes unwanted condolences of the outside world and all the struggle to find a way to move on in life. Losing somebody is never easy, and “The Loss Levels” knows perfectly how to transport the powerlessness that the bereaved feel to its audience.

Once again, “The Loss Levels” shows that not all video games have to be made for entermainment products. They can be art, they can be experimental, but they can also be personal. Dan Hett managed to take his mourning to create something sad and beautiful, which will not only honor his brother Martyn and the 21 other people that got killed in this dreadful act of terror, but that will also resonate with everyone who lost someone. Loss is something that can connect people, after all, as we tend to realize in such moments what’s really important in our lifes. Thank you for this experience, Dan Hett.

Addition: As Dan Hett informed us via Twitter, “[t]he physical arcade cab version of The Loss Levels will be showing at @BACKLITgallery very soon, running until early next year[.]” You can find more information about the exhibition called “EXAGGERATE EVERYTHING”, which will be open from 22nd of November 2019 to 15th of February 2020, right here.

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