Closed Hands is an experimental and political video game that explores the complex effects of extremism on a range of cultures and communities. This interactive digital story may also challenge your perception of what a video game is and the complex subjects to which games can lend themselves.
Closed Hands examines the lead-up to and aftermath of a terror attack in a fictional UK city, through the lens of five core characters and dozens of other lives brought together by the same event. The attack itself is intentionally never depicted, leaving the game to draw a complex picture of the reasons why it occurred, and the long-lasting effects it had on people, communities, and the city itself.
The gameplay is a free-form fragmented narrative, allowing the player to weave their own paths through the story: both forward and backward in time.
The story is told through interactive textual fiction, and the player can engage more deeply in the narrative by exploring the desktops of the characters. This includes reading emails, exploring files, replaying conversations, finding secrets…
The game will allow players to understand the complex effect extremism has on people’s perceptions of cultures and communities. It explores prejudices and racism that exist in the moments after an attack in many communities as well as the tabloid and media reaction to sensitivity and empathy to those affected.
“Far from stock characters, we see these people as human beings with all their complex histories extenuating circumstances… It’s through these characters that players can grapple with more complex and challenging issues than either a sensationalised blockbuster or even an adventure game with puzzle-solving win states.” – The Face
“An engrossing and compelling piece of interactive fiction whether you just follow one character’s thread or read every available node, Closed Hands handles its difficult subject with real nuance and maturity thanks to excellent writing that gets you inside the head of each character.” – The Sixth Axis
“Truly visceral… It’s a piece of work that asks us to empathise with the whole world, to feel every human cost and cause of seemingly incomprehensible tragedy.” – Exeunt
“a brilliant and complex piece of interactive fiction” – Unreality
All groups represented in the game have been developed in close consultation with cultural, professional and community groups. This includes journalists, emergency workers, and both the Muslim and wider minority ethnic communities.
Closed Hands was developed by Manchester indie games studio PASSENGER with support from the Arts Council England.
About the artists
PASSENGER is a small independent games studio, formed and led by artist Dan Hett. Closed Hands is the studio’s first work which builds upon the experimental games series developed by Dan Hett. The series explores his personal experience of losing his brother Martyn Hett in the Manchester terror attack in 2017. PASSENGER includes
- Created and Directed by Dan Hett
- Writing Dan Hett, Dan Whitehead, Sharan Dhaliwal, Umar Ditta
- Producer Sarah Unwin
- Art and Illustration Loz Ives
- Additional Art Mark LaCroix
- Programming Mark LaCroix, Dan Hett
- Soundtrack Paul Wolinski (65daysofstatic, No Man’s Sky), Ciaran Mcauley (RUMA)
- Website Grant Unwin
- Trailer Production Dan Cohen
- Logo Animation James Huson