Shortly after the World Health Organization decided to add gaming disorder to the ICD-11 mental health disease listings, there’s a report from out of Sunderland, England that puts the blame of a 15-year-old boy’s suicide on the visual novel, Doki Doki Literature Club.
Yes, according to the British outlet Sunderland Echo, an ongoing investigation into a 15-year-old boy’s suicide is currently putting the blame on Doki Doki Literature Club. The coroner office overseeing the case even sent out a warning, stating…
“I believe the information is so concerning that this warrants my writing at this stage to make the local authorities aware of the issue so appropriate information can be disseminated.”
“This has arisen due to the fact I am conducting the inquest into the death of a 15-year-old-boy who died earlier this year. Evidence obtained suggested he had used an online game called Doki Doki.”
First of all, Doki Doki Literature Club is not an online game, it’s a visual novel for PC. For the casuals out there visiting this site for the very first time, it means that install the game on your PC, open the game through the Steam client, and you read through the story like novel, only there are pictures of pretty anime girls to help make the reading more tolerable.
The game itself has a mature warning before you even get to the store page on Steam. The tags list it as a psychological horror game that’s classified as anime-horror.
It’s the equivalent of a standard written horror novel that you can pick up from a library if you’re a Luddite or download to your Kindle if you’re a technocrat.
The game was made by Team Salvato and has been available for download since September, 2017. Millions of people have downloaded the free visual novel, according to Steam Spy, and it reaches more than 2.5 million people every week through social media feeds and YouTube Let’s Play videos.
Despite the game having wide appeal and being available for almost a year without any incidents associated with it, the Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board’s chairman of the board, Sir Paul Ennals, has issued a health warning to schools across the country, stating…
“The Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board and its national and regional partners all work together to protect children and young people and promote their welfare.
Part of this is sharing concerns about issues and community safety messages on how they might be addressed. On this occasion it was to share information with schools about the death of a young person outside of our area, which the coroner at the inquest felt it was relevant to share with colleagues across the country.”
The game has a warning on the store page that it’s not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed due to the fact that it takes a lot of inspiration from Korean horror films. The literature club ends up getting wrapped up in a mysterious string of unnatural deaths, and a fourth-wall subplot unfolds about the characters in the game being driven into a deep depression until they go mad and commit suicide.
How the game had any effect on the 15-year-old’s suicide isn’t explained in the Sunderland report, leaving most media outlets to ramp up the public moral panic over Doki Doki Literature Club.
A general search for the game now pulls up Google News carousels about the game being linked to the boy’s death, despite no evidence being presented as to how exactly it caused his suicide.
Outlets are also doing profiles on Doki Doki Literature Club, portraying it as some kind of mental health risk.
The Sun, in fact, interviewed the victim’s father, Darren Walmsley, who claimed that the game wouldn’t leave his son alone, saying…
“Ben was growing up fast. It is hard for parents but this needs to be highlighted. There is no confirmation yet, but we believe that the game could be linked to Ben’s death.
“Characters suggest things and you decide what to do. It drags you in and they make it very real. Ben did not speak about it, but parents need to be aware of this game and other similar games.
“It is free to download but once you get into it, it will not leave you alone. The characters befriend and love you and give you tasks to do but if you do not do them, they turn nasty.”
With the White House attempting to blame violent video games for recent school shootings – despite a lot of evidence stating the contrary – and the World Health Organization labeling gaming disorder as a mental health risk, and feminist critics and activists posing as journalists blaming video games for rape culture – despite studies and evidence stating the contrary – it’s no surprise to see media outlets going the extra mile to place the blame of youth suicide on free-to-play visual novels.
You can acquire a free copy of Doki Doki Literature Club and play through it for yourself by acquiring it from the Steam store page.
(Thanks for the news tip Rough)