Police in the UK have issued a warning about an online game called Doki Doki Literature Club which they fear may have contributed to the suicide of a 15-year-old boy earlier this year. While the cause of Ben Walmsley’s death is still not known to the public, a coroner’s report suggested evidence from the Manchester teen’s death suggested the game may have played a role.
Doki Doki is an online anime game from US-based developer Team Salvato that centers around five kids who are trying to join a literature club at their school. While at first, the game seems totally harmless, as it progresses, themes of depression and self-harm get into the mix. The characters give the players different tasks to complete and depending on how well the player does, the characters will treat them kindly or try and hurt them.
“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,” the coroner told local police.
The game is certainly dark, the developers make it very clear from the jump that the game is not meant for anyone under the age of 13. The game also issues several warnings to let potential players know that Doki Doki is “not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed,” and that “individuals suffering from anxiety or depression may not have a safe experience playing.”
Still, the coroner alerted officials at Philips High, the school that Ben attend before his death, in hopes that they would warn parents about the game, and that’s exactly what they did.
“A concern has recently been brought to our attention by HM Senior Coroner regarding the use by young people of the online game ‘Doki Doki’, also known as ‘Doki Doki Literature Club,’ officials at Phillips High told the parents of the children who attend the school. “This is a psychological horror game. Please monitor and check your child’s internet use regularly and be mindful of the time spent.”
A lot of online games have been coming under fire of late, given the rising concern that in some capacity they can contribute to violent tendencies, suicidal ideations, or the deterioration of a kid’s mental health. Active Shooter, a game where players were encouraged to roleplay as a school shooter and kill police and other students was taken down from Steam. A nine-year-old girl just went to rehab for her Fortnite addiction. And gaming addiction has finally been listed as a mental illness by the World Health Organization.