Doki Doki Literature Club’s Aftertaste in the Era of A 1 in 5 Suicide Rate.

played this one visual novel called Katawa Shoujo. I happily digested the slow default text speed, the bad cultural translations and the second-act-and-beyond abandonment at any attempt at constructed prose. There were cute girls in that ineffable anime style and they all fancied a bit of me, or some idiot I was playing as but whatever, I’d been gratified by this little story and it’s choices and the occasional nostalgically depicted kissing scene — and good on me too; most were just playing this one for the hand drawn sex scenes, so said the detractors.

Yeah it had lots of detractors, this free game made by a small, independent team in response to the design ethos which had lead to most new releases costing upwards of sixty dollars. The assets were, as afore mentioned, generated by hand, arranged in a freeware software development tool that was and remains popular with the community and had it’s writing credits pulled from the ranks of what was, at the time, one of the few bastions of discerning fandom for the genre, 4chan. And it still had detractors, loads of them, decrying this gameplayless veiled smut of poorly rendered style and very little substance. It split the definition of western produced art-game and ‘JDM’ visual media for the internet since and the only thing as persistent as the distinction is, as one might expect, the popularity amongst the two fandoms. More than one internet publishing company has substantiated it’s entire existence on such the JDM variety alone (though it’s a dwindling number that are resorting to doing so) and as for the home-grown (if you live in Europe or North America) fare, well, it hasn’t had a successful release that hasn’t been accompanied by terabytes of fan art, cosplay modellings, follow up fan-made games and thousands upon thousands of Reddit and 4chan threads per game discussing them.

Katawa Shoujo, meanwhile, had become part of the canon of games that I had played through once and enjoyed, found to be quite memorable and moved on from. A cluster of memorable moments with the eponymous ‘cripple girls’ prevailed and to this day I’m not sure if they did because they were peerlessly written in terms of cerebral, emotive quality or because they were peerless because I’d never played a videogame like that before — no small achievement for someone who first picked up the controller aged 4.
None the less it’s not a scene I can necessarily claim full membership to. I like visual novels in the same way we all have at least a bit of a penchant for ‘weeaboo’ paraphernalia that’s greater than we’d like to admit but it neither radicalised my views on, ahem, ‘cripples’ that is Katawa, nor girls, that is to say the titular Shoujo, making an imprint on my impressionable college-age mould but not a reconstruction.

Just over half a decade later and hearing of a suicide being linked to a Visual Novel I braced for impact as more than one unlettered news outlet tried to justify how a single set of images and sounds accounted for an entire case study of depression and it’s suicidal extreme, with only clinical deference to the affected party. Rather this time the link between the game and the death was made by a forensic coroner eschewing the clinical aspect of what they do to send out a broader warning about the death’s circumstances. Not the first time this has happened but the first time it’s ever concerned a literature club full of cute two dimensional girls.

You Should Just Kill Yourelf’

here are three thinkable knee-jerk reactions to someone playing Doki Doki Literature Club and then committing suicide (however serviceably expressed as conventional wisdom from people who would struggle to give a definition of the words video game or suicide). Firstly, the heartbreakingly departed Ben Warmsley of Bury, aged fifteen, simply saw a depiction of suicide in a video game, a form of entertainment in which you recreate your character’s actions with a controller, and killed himself. Not sure I relish the ‘monkey see monkey do’ insinuation and we know it’s bullshit anyway. In case you’ve never read any piece of analysis relating to anything like a videogame before, I’ll repeat the maxim that’s never been refuted thus far; people are interested in videogames as a suspension or escape from what happens in real life, right down to the minutiae of their simulacrum. The finer the detail and the more intricate the cogs in the mechanics, the greater appeal to curiosity and the more praise we give it. The mechanics of operating an Ithaca M37 12 gauge shotgun in videogames are, shall we say, worlds apart from operating one in real life, whether you’re pointing it at yourself or someone else.

Secondly, it’s possible to take the stance that cultural artefacts like videogames, in their often-held frivolity, struggle with existential themes, nay, consistent themes at all and that there is no lack of frivolity in a dating sim. Again this smacks of condemning or at least falsely analysing Doki Doki Literature Club based on what we’re told it is, a kind of regressing to the mean that defers analysis to another party, which seems like a waste of time for more reasons than the simple fact that the game is free. Regardless there is, in turn, a knee-jerk rebuttal to this; that Doki Doki isn’t a simple videogame at all but a visual novel, don’t you know? An impossibly deep and emotional narrative that those with a philistine attitude to the format (and the market that bore it) are unprivy to. There is something eminently correct in that there’s a critical cerebral element to Visual Novels not present in other videogames but those who pop up in internet comment sections with the particular brand of dogma I described above aren’t willing to do the legwork to explain it. I’m going to try my very best but I have an insecurity about turning the format’s greatest narrative strength into something insouciantly dubbed ‘problematic’ — there is absolutely no need to be unspecific about which Visual Novel material constitutes that adjective.

Thirdly and finally, there is a cynical exhaustion that kicks in when we hear a young person’s violent death linked to a videogame. One which makes the excuses of replicated violence which I mentioned above whilst the piece of media in question may depict little to none. It’s an assumption that they’ve ingested some kind of postmodern, cynical depiction of the violence previous generations are ostensibly more sensitive to, though I’m saddened to have to point out that this is the kind of book-by-the-cover banality that counts for what we commonly call ‘postmodern’ cynicism.

All of these examples are as lazy as you might expect from knee-jerk reactions, though in this case I fear it’s not just an intellectual shortcut but a moral and/or ethical eschewing of baffling proportions.

Apparently we shouldn’t bother to discuss this death because the fact this game was an official release accompanied by an age rating and a content warning somehow makes the game impervious to the analysis that may allow us to criticise it productively. Meanwhile the fact that this game came from beyond our usual mainstream critical absorption and is of rare form and dubious subject matter (a notion which, as afore mentioned, is laughable when compared to the commercial entity it comes from) should make it too exotic, too weird, too foreign to bother with the analysis which might let us come to praise it and understand its appeal. It’s a ridiculous lack of responsibility on behalf of the media, to such an extent that I became certain I wanted to write this article when I saw the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show on the case. Across less than ten minutes of coverage the report and interviews broadcast vaguely asserted the two descriptions above, decided that neither were particularly the way forward and regaled viewers with a basic plot summary and repeated reiterations about the game’s content warning. A representative from Samaritans, the UK’s most common suicide signpost organisation, got less than two minutes of speaking time.

I want to analyse the game slightly in this piece, moving briefly away from the subject of suicide and to the express themes of Doki Doki and the responsibility with which it deploys its depictalism. In addition to the obvious advantage of, ahem, staying in my lane, playing to the analytical strengths of a life spent gaming and being ever-convincing of my huge intellect and infallible solutions I might just take this opportunity, as a member of the public with no police or medical background nor national journalistic accreditation, to provide information on the violent death of a child. Those self appointed to the position of being shocked where others are desensitised would do well to show the slightest genuine commiseration and scruple where I think they’ve acted appallingly, about the real dead adolescent, I mean.

Natsuki, in a more quiet moment in the plot.

Sayori

ow to moralise from the standpoint of fiction? Well, justifying the place of Visual Novels in the mainstream cannon without reference to smut or franchise fare is currently a solution lacking a problem. The games, the materials to make them and the fandom they’d likely cultivate are, again, esoteric but extremely voluminous. Who wouldn’t want to play a murder mystery, taking their own initiative and working towards they’re own solutions instead of watching a predictable television detective? Who wouldn’t want to revisit their High School social circle, popular and astutely humoured for adolescent, nostalgic shenanigans? Replete with the possibility, nay promise, of sex with your inconceivably cute interlocutors. What about a horror narrative? The great intellectual and emotional ghost train that has been a tentpole of popular fiction since there was such a thing. Now you can see each gory description, spot peeking eyes in the dark, move through the shadows of this or that haunted location. It’s fantasy peddling. That’s no mass condemnation — but it’s fantasy peddling, moulded as old as every thinkable form of pulp fiction.

The opportunity to make something of it, as far as this generation of independent game developers is concerned, came when Visual Novels left their own domain to be localised elsewhere. Games like Katawa Shoujo and Dangan Ronpa gained popularity in comparable measure within months of each other but critically, they are well executed examples of very different intent. Barring some gameplay features, Visual Novels like the murder mystery franchise Dangan Ronpa and the metaphysical drama Steins: Gate are major releases meant to demonstrate the efficacy of their methodical and immersive narratives across different platforms and are explicitly marketed as new adventures for first time players of the format. They exist for the betterment of a format that, whilst more sophisticated, has had it’s appeal virtually unadulterated from when it consisted of pornography and light entertainment public transport fodder. Katawa Shoujo on the other hand showed at least the beginnings of subversion, of capitulating to the appetites of a more educated fandom, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as a more discerning audience.

More than one writer who can claim a far greater tenure in the fandom than myself registered substantial disapproval over how hamfistedly Doki Doki Literature Club handles it’s own subversion. Having established what influenced the tropes and trends the game intends to upend, it’s possible to do as the pieces linked above have done and order the game’s priorities as something far more towards the self-aware end of the scale. (Though, I’ve limited the analysis to the presumption that the player and player character alike are cisgendered, straight men. Again, this is something fairly essential for Doki Doki’s subversion but absolutely alienating to many players.)

Doki Doki Literature Club begins with its protagonist, named by the player, several clicks away from meeting a cute girl who begs him to come and meet some of her friends. This is Sayori, the childhood friend, naïve and intimate to the point of being an easily achievable romantic pursuit. She also leaves her top a little undone. The fact that Sayori has relied on a friendly, co-dependant relationship with the player all of her life is left conveniently packed into the gaps between dialogue boxes for the time being. Sayori’s eager for the player to join the eponymous literature club, bolstering its membership enough to get it officially recognised by the school. The other three members are Monika, the natural leader and popularity contest winner, Yuri, the reserved literary journeyman with idiosyncratically Japanese social graces in place of an open, forthright personality and Natsuki, the girl from the class below with big eyes, a penchant for manga and an attitude to defend such damning emasculations.

When an ice-breaking exercise in writing personal poems turns into a series of personal and romantic confrontations for the girls and the player, the onus is squarely on you to choose which one your want to spend more time with, though it doesn’t require a degree in the form to realise that the focus of the dialogue seems to have more emphasis on which girl you’re excluding, on which one is being marginalised. Odd but the romantic shenanigans begin regardless and despite this minimal agency of slapping left click until a new scene begins, you navigate these distinct yet well run stereotypes.

The culmination of this, as everyone knows, is the confession scene. The girl you’re closest to is contrived to be alone with you, with the tensions and insinuations of previous times together ready to boil over. The vast social network of the high school and its formal confines break down and the protagonist and the preferred girl are a short distance across eye contact from each other, alone. Sayori finds the player in her bedroom, no less, about to confront her for being conspicuously absent from the very club she invited him to. This shyness isn’t her, this isn’t becoming of her, this isn’t the confidence and alluring vulnerability in each other that formed the basis of our attraction to Sayori (and dozens upon dozens of other VN girls like her). It’s time for her to confess what’s in her heart. Sayori tells you she has severe, long term depression. She’s been staying at home because it’s been playing her up. It’s been messing up her performance as your VN romantic interest.
This, rather than an often touted later scene which I’ll describe shortly, is the best conceit in the narrative. This is excellent writing. It is the violation of expectation hurled out from a character the game repeatedly challenges you to try to be angry at or impatient with. It is also, simultaneously, the transportation of a genuine issue in relationships into the exact point a sexual cue would take place in the narrative. But it’s no mere cue that replaces it, it is the very robbing of the power to assume the basis and outcome of the encounter from the player and their character. It is the replacement of that well rung cue with something about which the player and the hair gel donning, backpack swinging dolt they are playing as has absolutely no power to change, question, resolve or simply skip. It replaces the scene’s problematic — oops — context with a vulnerable yet assertive female character being (all things considered) perfectly articulate about their predicament. It was clear at this point in my playthrough that Sayori was beyond a permanent solution to her circumstances but I’ve played these things before, I’ve been a writer for a very long time. The people playing Doki Doki Literature Club because they heard about a scene where a girl hangs herself were, I’ve no doubt, genuinely caught out by Sayori hanging herself. (A gaggle of Twitch streamers trying to replicate the reactions of their colleagues who hadn’t read a plot synopsis before hand with exaggerated squeals can be eye-rolled at even if you’re unaffected by the death of a two dimensional teenager, trust me.)

Regardless, there she was, ahem, ‘left hanging’, to choose Monika’s particularly immature branding of the situation, on computer monitors and Twitch streams and YouTube playthroughs and articles and forum threads the world over. Her faintly twitching figure an irritating facsimile of the frenetic, bright action we so often tune into watch on video game channels. But we’ll let her off, we’ve already established that changing key in a format this cerebral and with a beat this well known generally allows us to choose Sayori’s initial confession or her final, suicidal, avowal of her emotional state as the narrative’s peak — and if it suddenly seems as if I’m discussing these things as clinical, concrete pieces of the production rather than the plight of this well rounded character then we’ve reached the very core of the problem.

The rush to deploy an inviting narrative about the subjects of suicide and abuse is something the game is so intimidated by that it quickly lemmings itself off of credibility cliff due to the massive impetus it feels to anchor these depictions in increasingly stupid violent imagery.

I’ve conceded there’s a place for stupid imagery in visual novels and that there’s a place for violent imagery in visual novels, stupid violent imagery is however, in the era of Happy Tree Friends being erroneously available on Netflix Kids, something which is less forgivable. The frivolity which excuses and recuses Doki Doki Literature Club from being analysed with any depth reers it’s head again when the character whom is implied to self harm makes a single allusion to it in one scene before disemboweling themselves minutes of gameplay later. Another character who has been building to revealing the extent of their horrific and, again, distinctly patriarchal, domestic abuse dispatches themselves and the player, apparently, it’s not terribly clear, in a moment of popcorn horror movie gross-out jumpscare; the insubstantiality of which I can only think to recreate with a jumbled set of nouns.

Equally it must be said that the pacing of the game is desperately effective on the first play through. Whilst the exact nature of the menace in question isn’t revealed until the game’s climax, there are a number of anchoring points which allow the player to feel a tangible sense of progress within the narrative whilst the game rearranges the components of a larger meta narrative behind the curtain. The implementation of said meta narrative, which no analytical inflation of the two hour long game’s features can really elevate above that one haunted videogame creepy pasta you saw in your teens, is the flailing haymaker Doki Doki Literature Club slings beyond it’s own weight. It’s intention sound, it’s execution poor. In isolation as a scene to react to on stream or stare at as a reference for a piece of fan art, this execution is hard to criticise beyond not being quite as sophisticated as Visual Novels with over ten times the budget. When Doki Doki Literature Club simultaneously tries to balance a sincere narrative about what is emotional and melancholic and metaphysical with the metatextual, any degree of nuance is vulnerable to a kind of structural flippancy. It doesn’t help that the villain of the piece completely embodies that flippancy.

For those who haven’t completed the game, I’m going to spoil the second of the major revelations which change the game’s tone and the game proper. It’s a testament to the strength of the dialogue, which never completely deserts the game, that I have to specifically orientate this piece of the analysis around one of the characters. Monika, socially infallible girl-about-campus with a leaderly candor and a distinctively westernised and sexualised set of aesthetic frills. She’s gone self-aware and has been driving the other girls to mutilating, abrupt deaths out of insatiable love for the player, not the person they’re playing as.

Once she has sufficiently pushed the other girl’s to an early grave, Monika modifies the game itself to contrive an temporal scenario in which you are, incontrovertibly, hers. The very act of booting the game places you where Sayori was; trapped in a room, locked in eye contact, ready to be confronted with the depth and extent of the romantic and sexual demands on you, to explain why we haven’t fallen for her yet. I just spent the entire time thinking what a cool meta trick the developers had made. Intent solid, execution poor.

Despite this worldliness for Visual Novels, Videogames and just plain old Novels, all of which seem to have an increasing amount of commercial prospect based on ‘meta’, I wasn’t to know I was actually at the tip of the iceberg. Our conversation with Monika is evidently the start of a larger narrative that spans multiple video games, insinuations and illusions, viral marketing techniques, fiddled with JPEG files — the lot. Making no better on the general impression the community has since fostered that Doki Doki Literature Club was relying on said community and said virality to make the game’s impact what it was, not the narrative in and of itself. Even the extent of the rather bonus feature-ey additional worldbuilding the game makes of it’s interconnected clues and websites and distorted image files lurking the player’s folders were picked up more or less automatically by the crew of YouTube’s Game Theory to be disseminated for the benefit of people who hadn’t even played the base game, merely heard about it. Game Theory, as they’re well within their prerogative to do, produced several videos on Doki Doki for their millions of subscribers which arguably exceeded the length of a playthrough of the game itself. Is this worldbuilding or franchise building? Is a game that can’t reassure fans avid enough to play through multiple times which one it is doing really capable of mediating it’s content enough to release a narrative about abuse and suicide to anyone over the age of 13 for free?

With Monika no less in control of all the answers young players would usually use to reassure themselves that this efficacy is still part of a game, still not real. Like trying to spot the wire and makeup work in a gory horror film which frightens you, players, particularly ones which like to watch 10+ hours of analysis on games such as Five Nights at Freddy’s, will look to the efficacy of the creator’s intent for reassurance about what they need to take away from the game and what they’re over thinking. The split between stereotypical and metatextual in Doki Doki Literature Club has now been pulled open to a chasm by the feedback loop Team Salvato intentionally created for at least partially commercial purposes.

In my haste to not make my own contribution to that feedback totally without merit there’s an opportunity to both defend Team Salvato’s bravery with their subject matter and the trust they have for their audience to accept the verisimilitude of something the mainstream media consumption body simply isn’t very used to. There’s also plenty of grounds to condemn Doki Doki Literature Club on account of the disparity between the sophistication and nuance of it’s narrative and the presupposed sophistication of the conversation around it. Team Salvato needn’t have expected intellectual anointment for making something very popular yet mildly subversive; just look at Katawa Shoujo, nor are they entirely to blame for the rampancy of the game’s effect on its audience. Is the fact that measuring how likely Doki Doki Literature Club is to make someone commit suicide has to be graded on two curves (the game’s narrative and it’s release feedback) what frightened many news outlets away from decisively saying what that measure was? With the tabloids one can point to the technophobia they’ve often displayed as an excuse for their usual laziness, but I’m not sure I want to give the likes of The Sun the benefit of the doubt. For the other, public remit news corporations, namely the BBC, there isn’t really a thinkable excuse; it’s entirely possible to think that the game’s narrative was not insensitive whilst the game’s efficacy and reiterating impact were and vice versa. The analytical commitment to evaluating the inherent effect of these two things on young people’s (chiefly young men’s) suicidality may be intimidating but it’s baffling to think it’s insurmountable when there are such obvious deviations for the normal pattern of suicide in men when compared to the pattern of suicides linked to the game.

Source: ONS

I Despair

hese are the 2016 Office of National Statistics percentages for suicide in men of different age groups as far as they could be collated at the time. The 2016 collation is the most recent at time of writing. As anyone wanting to report on this issue could take note, without encyclopedic knowledge of novel-format dating simulators, it’s stupendously high in the most concentrated groups: from the mid twenties to roughly the mid forties, that is, slightly higher than one in five. It’s been noted that this age period is when any workplace or financial infrastructure failures are felt the hardest by men; they may have failed in their responsibilities to their families, their company and their marriage, rather than transiently flitting from part time job to part time job as men in their teens and early twenties apparently do. But there’s another presumption built into the suicidal tendencies of that age group which has possession of a more nuanced, more keenly extrapolated and less victim blaming notion than 19 year olds being irresponsible — interesting synthesis there. Between 26 and 50 you’re going to get pretty sick of conditions you’ve been suffering from since you were 15 or 16 or 18 or 21. The infrastructure of medical analysis and close care will be nothing compared to the fever pitch it was likely at when you got your diagnosis. The financial assistance you were otherwise entitled to as someone seeking a job or disability assistance or a work-life balance which would allow you to meet your medical commitments would trail off, as draconian government means-testing measures decided you could fend for yourself. The medication that you once relied on could have less and less relief whilst still generating problematic side effects and as each diagnosis is unique it’s a sideways step from being in control of your illness to being completely alone with it. This is not a subtraction from the first description of middle aged depression I offered, rather an addition to it and it’s in the face of this adversity that many conscientious young men, often intelligent beyond their years, want to map out their emotions and views in a free market place of different experiences, whilst understandably limiting the ones which could have permanent consequences; don’t come off your medication and get yourself fired, read or watch or play something a bit depressing and then water-cooler talk it off over the next few days.

Unfortunately, the water-cooler for Ben Warmsley was the internet and the validation of his emotional state he tried to locate in Doki Doki Literature Club ,and possibly other material like it, verified suicidality as a common resort for his feelings, where in fact the escapism he likely presumed would be present would be much more helpful and less lethal. I’m simplifying what is in fact a spectrum of misappropriated validation for feelings and fears that media and in particular social media readily supply — that’s both the validation and the bad feelings. But that doesn’t make these suicides the game’s fault, the inability to separate fact and fiction isn’t a symptom of depression, the potentiality and volatility to take on emotions stoked up from the darkest corners of our psyche and accept them as universal, constant truths about ourselves is, particularly for young people.

By certain analytical terms Doki Doki Literature Club did blur this line but that just makes it all the more infuriating that a media feedback system, online and televised, political and objective and comprised of both fans and non fans would do so little to offer clarity. In failing to properly address this phenomenon a clear message was sent by exception that it was not okay to deal with the feelings narratives and characters bring up in anything other than the most platitudinous terms, the reportage seems to have pointed to tables like the one above and said can’t you come up with something definitive like that? The irony is too infuriating to have to point out. Faced with this efficacy, more and more young people will go to spaces where these emotions are discussed with artistic license, something which would otherwise be wonderful. But with no one, except perhaps Monika, dictating nor suggesting the terms of what people are being exposed to there’s a similar potential for disaster to the algorhythmically generated ‘kids’ nontent on YouTube which was exposed last year. Neither censorship of Doki Doki’s content nor the elevation of it’s age rating would completely absolve the situation of this disastrous potential, for more than one family it’s a potential that’s already been fulfilled and while that’s extremely frustrating for people who want or need to analyze this stuff, that’s okay. It’s not just okay, it’s necessary. The insinuation that the people who profit from commentating on media and social media don’t give enough of a fuck to put themselves through imagining what it must be like to play a creepypasta horror game framed as a dating sim is an eighty foot billboard saying we don’t care about you to people like Ben Warmsley. Yes, it is therefore possible to think of something like Doki Doki as an accelerant of the feelings young men try to ameliorate before that critical time period of adulting in their late twenties but even if that were true an accelerant wouldn’t be as dangerous as a smothering compounding of the issue. I assert that the real danger was the platitudinous, plodding analysis of this issue contributing to the very social malaise which make young people feel this way in the first place.

Images Copyright: Team Salvato

Natsuki Dancing

the risk of repeating myself I’d like to lend what is now turning into an arduously long piece of analysis some utility by asking those who write about subjects like this to take this piece into account as part of their vigilance from irresponsible depiction. Whether that depiction be of something within a narrative or the product which contains the narrative. Please don’t be so lazy as to repine into regarding this situation as weirdo gamers reenacting the weird stuff that happens in their games. At the time of writing, most of the world’s newsdesk press is trying to explain why a horrific mass shooting took place at a Madden NFL videogame tournament.

I also wouldn’t like to see the reflexive pointing to the humourisation of suicide that social media likes to constantly circulate as an explanation for Doki Doki’s target audience’s magnetism towards suicidal behaviour. Firstly, Team Salvato’s target audience was just about anyone and secondly the fan community at large seems to commune around everything but the tragic elements of the story, or at least accept them as tragic and avoidable not the reverse. Fan threads fill up with art ranging from the sweet to the sexy, everything from philosophical to musical interpretation of the themes, it’s almost as if it was a very small minority of players were the only ones to commit suicide after playing this game, so why besmirch them? How many will be enough to warrant the proper exploration of this space which exists beyond twentieth century media’s rules? How many more stories are there waiting between the images of Sayori sunbathing or Natsuki dancing with the player character in a version of events departed from Monika’s cynical narcissism?

Doki Doki Literature Club has none the less managed to generate a fictional character, a set of ones and zeroes which in turn generate a series of images and text files, who is equally, if not more dangerous than the real life bullies online games tend to expose young teenagers to. There’s a whole other series of articles on that and that’s okay, that’s something to be done in and of itself not out of guilt and confusion over a preventable suicide and for what it’s worth, I don’t think any of the parties mentioned here have failed to feel that. In particular I’m referring to Game Theory who lost one of their own editorial team to suicide in July, adding not only further tragedy to the matter but also further evidence that this is not a phenomenon affecting the hidden and anonymous at the darkest corners of the internet.

Does Doki Doki Literature Club contain a responsible depiction of depression and it’s causes? Reasonably, yes. Certainly above the general standard that’s been cultivated by Visual Novels thus far.

Does Doki Doki Literature Club contain a responsible depiction of suicide and abuse? No, not really. Not in that it sets out for hyperviolent insensitivity, in that it’s failed to contain much of anything about it’s narrative and so have the self appointed gatekeepers of this media and it’s okay to make that accusation.

Narrative Design, Violence, Discrimination, Disability, Technology, Bad Videogames. Gratitude for every single view or read.

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