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BBC Report on Doki Doki Literature Club Game Controversy

posted on by Andrew Osmond
Game is discussed on Victoria Derbyshire programme, following numerous reports in UK press

The BBC has broadcast a 13-minute discussion on the controversy surrounding the free online Visual Novel game Doki Doki Literature Club. For viewers who can use BBC iPlayer, the discussion, which was part of the morning 'Victora Derbyshire' topical news show on Thursday 28 June, can be seen here. The item about the game begins at the 17-minute mark. A one-minute extract from the programme is available here.

The programme quotes the Greater Manchester Police as saying, 'We believe this game is a risk to children and young people, especially those that are emotionally vulnerable and anyone with existing mental health concerns.'

The discussion on the programme features Laura Dale, news editor of the Kotaku UK website, who argues that the risk of the game is the same as it would be for other media, such as films or books, which deal with the same themes. Lorna Fraser, a representative of the Samaritans, says the case underlines the need for parents to be aware of what their children are doing online.

Described as a 'psychological horror game,' Doki Doki Literature Club was the subject of a warning originating at the Manchester coroner's office, which is investigating the death of a 15 year-old boy. According to the coroner, there is evidence that the boy had used the game.

The game has become the subject of numerous stories in the national UK media, including a report in The Mirror, which is linked to a 5-minute 'Parent's Guide' video about the game on YouTube. The Sun newspaper reports that a Croatian woman believes the game may have been a factor in the suicide of her 12 year-old son.

Doki Doki Literature Club was made by the US company Team Salvato, but it uses images and content modelled on Japanese dating games. In an October 2017, the Kotaku website reported that the game's writer and lead developer, Dan Salvato, had a 'love/hate' relationship to anime and felt that the trope of 'cute girls doing cute things' could be both positive and negative.

On June 23, the website of the Sunderland Echo newspaper reported that a warning about the game was issued through Sunderland City Council to headteachers at Sunderland schools.

(Spoilers for the game follow.)

According to the newspaper's report, the coroner contacted local authorities 'across the country', saying, "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 paper describes Doki Doki Literature Club as a game which has cute-looking characters, but which is in fact a 'psychological horror game' with suicide themes, depictions of mental health problems and self-harm, as well as violence.

The report acknowledges that at the very start of the the game, there is a clear statement that it is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed. However, the report says, 'Initially the characters are cute female figures, which would appeal to youngsters.'

Thanks to Chris Adamson for the heads-up.

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