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Father speaks out over Doki Doki Literature Club psychological horror game after death of son

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 25/06/2018 Paul Britton
a close up of a person: Ben Walmsley © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Ben Walmsley

The father of a teenage boy found dead at home believes his use of ‘Doki Doki’ - an interactive psychological horror game - could be linked.

Police have issued a warning over the free-to-play ‘Doki Doki Literature Club’, calling the game a ‘risk to children and young people’.

Schools have also been alerted by a coroner investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of 15-year-old Ben Walmsley in Radcliffe, Bury, in February, ahead of a coroner’s inquest.

The game features four animated young girls and a boy who wants to join a school literature club with them. There are alternative endings depending on choices made during the course of the game, but it features graphic references and images of violence, suicide and self-harm.

Ben’s father Darren Walmsley, 49, from Radcliffe, said he believes the ‘dark’ game ‘dragged him in’ and revealed Ben was even sketching characters from the game.

He said Ben inputted his mobile phone into the game and would be contacted by text message during the day and at night, often waking him up.

a close up of a device © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Mr Walmsley said: “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.”

The senior coroner for north Manchester has alerted councils and schools, with awareness messages being shared on Facebook.

Ben’s school, Philips High School in Whitefield, posted online: “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’.

“This is a psychological horror game with suicide as a main feature. A concern has been expressed that the game may trigger suicidal thoughts in young people who may be emotionally vulnerable. Please monitor and check your child’s internet use regularly and be mindful of the time spent.”

a screenshot of a cell phone: A grab from the website © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited A grab from the website

Schools across Greater Manchester and Lancashire have also shared the warning.

Det Insp Jude Holmes, from GMP’s Public Protection Division, urged parents to regularly check websites their children are using, as some aren’t flagged up by usual firewall settings.

She said the force had been made aware of the game and said: “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. It’s also really important to discuss with your children which games and apps are suitable, and ensure they understand why others aren’t appropriate to use.”

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Mr Walmsley added: “Children are curious but they can get sucked in. The characters are clearly designed to drag young lads in. It is a game that needs taking offline and destroying.

“Ben was intelligent and funny with a great sense of humour. He was a gent, loving and caring. We just want to find out why and at the moment, it’s all pointing to this game.”

The M.E.N. has contacted US creators Team Salvato for comment.

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