Editorial: Doki Doki Panic! Why Making Visual Novels Mainstream Was A Terrible Idea

For nearly a decade, I have been a fan of visual novels and have spent a lot of time reading them. Many can take several hours to read, if not weeks or months, depending on how much you want to achieve in each story. Some also have gameplay elements, which sparks the old “book vs game” debate. Though that’s not important.

What is important, is that in some ridiculous circumstance, a British teenager took his life because of what I thought was a rather tame suicide scene. Although I have the game on my PC, I have not finished it yet and have viewed the scenes through this Sun article. As far as the knife scene, that’s something not out of character for Yandere, which Doki Doki copies from as well as an untranslated Nitro+ title that developer Dan Salvato lifted material so closely from that the developer could probably sue if they cared to do so. Especially the Monica character, which although is a meme, is also plagiarism from that title. This is not common knowledge to everyone, but it is also probably the reason that the game has been offered freely. I think Salvato knows that he more or less ripped-off one of his favorite hook-translated titles as a sort of tribute, but I don’t think he realized it would get this popular.

Herein lies the problem. Back in 2012, visual novels weren’t all that popular. I was a newbie in that sense and was just starting to get into them through what at the time wasn’t all that well-known, Steins;Gate. I enjoyed Steins;Gate so much that I had to have more of these motion picture books and I quickly went through The Infinity Series as well as Higurashi and Umineko, the latter of which actually managed to scar my former website colleague for life. I dare not mention that it to him, even though I’m still convinced it is one of the genre’s best titles, even though The House In Fata Morgana did it much better, and with far less text. There were others, like Cross+Channel, Ayakashibito and even difficult to process sexual torture eroge like Heartwork, Bible Black, Discipline and Starless – all of Sei Shoujo’s works, which are definitely a bit more than some if not most people can handle. In other words, if you thought that Doki Doki was a bit much, just remember that there’s no sex in Doki Doki. Yes parents, it gets worse. Which is one reason that I really didn’t want these things becoming mainstream. I was ready for the shock, but there would also be moments of great happiness and sorrow. Saya No Uta was a tough one to read (from the creator of Madoka Magica) as well as Remember 11 and Chaos;Head (which is why we haven’t seen it officially over here yet). But that’s nothing. There’s a few that I’m not going to mention here, purely because I don’t want people reading this article to seek them out and then become horrified to the point that they decide it might be better to ban or censor them altogether.

You have to understand, I didn’t want these to become mainstream in the first place. I don’t want some of these games to ever come to mainstream Steam, even if the fans do, because it will be more trouble than it’s worth. I had already said around the time of the Sekai Project Kickstarters, that making visual novels mainstream would be a truly terrible thing. First, for the butchered translation jobs (Subahibi and Cross+Channel come to mind) and second, because many people wouldn’t be able to take some of the darker elements that are extremely common in these novels. One sub-genre in the medium is actually called “utsuge” which literally means “sad game” or a game with the common goal of making the player unhappy or depressed. They are supposed to bring you to tears, and can. If not for the music, the dialogue and the imagery can definitely make you feel pretty awful the next day. It’s happened to me a few times, but I’d keep on reading and make it through.

Yes, some fault lies with the parents here. I won’t deny that. But what I will say, is that the game never should have been an app, modifications should never have been made to it and whoever created the “Mystic Messenger” needs a good knock in the head, even if was a nice little anime flavored troll. As for Dan Salvato, he really shouldn’t have to do anything more than he did when he made the security features for the game, so I’m not blaming him at all. Doki Doki isn’t even responsible for being what is essentially true to the visual novel genre at it’s most extreme. This is the norm. It’s practically mild, minus the fourth-wall Monica shit. Doki Doki is also a OELVN, which first became popular with Katawa Shoujo and is normally a gateway drug for readers into much deeper realms within the genre. This article was not written to say that those deeper realms are deplorable, they just aren’t for everyone. There will be a few instances in even some of the greatest visual novels ever written that readers may find shocking. But that’s part of this genre, so please respect that and watch your children a bit more closely with their gaming.

Finally, I know that Steam is opening their doors to everything, but I’m speaking to some publishers here (who shall not be named) that I hope would use proper restraint and not release certain titles over to Steam, leaving them in the underground. Sure, you may not make as much money, but considering the content and the backlash over something as tame as Doki Doki; this might be a wise investment. Do not worry, because the underground fanbase will be there to provide support. I’ve already bought a few of these titles and hope to buy more, as I am a fan. Though not everyone will be, and as we are seeing, it seems like it might have been better that some of the underground elements in these novels, just stayed underground. We can respect them, we are grown adults with full-functioning brains. Your children are not, so please by all means – get them away from this material. When it says, “This game is not meant for children” and “This game contains disturbing content” then perhaps you should exercise your right as a parent and know what your children are into.

Come on parents, learn to fucking Google search. You tap the search bar, you say “Doki Doki Literature Club” and in minutes, you have all the information you need about the game and whether or not your child might need to be supervised while playing. My own mother is in her sixties and knows how to do this. You mean to tell me that a British mother cannot do the same?

You know, I could’ve sworn the Brits were smarter than us. Wonderful, thought provoking lyrics. The birthplace of heavy metal itself. Some of the best comic books that I have ever read, outweighing many of my favorite regular novels, with so much to teach within the pages. Brilliant comedy, especially in the early days where dark humor was properly respected instead of shunned. But you people don’t know how to use Google voice search? Or Siri? Or Alexa? How old was this kid’s mother, a hundred and twelve? None of this is making sense. If your kid is constantly talking about something over and over and you’re getting a little worried about it, wouldn’t you at least do some research? I would. I’ll bet that my kid would be alive, that’s for sure; because I’m all about monitoring and mentoring, the whole reason that we’re supposed to have children to begin with. If I even decide to have any, considering climate change and the whole impending wasteland/matrix thing we’re heading into. But that’s a topic for another time.

– The Grim Lord

Grab the game here and see what you think: www.ddlc.moe

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