Father believes son’s death is linked to Doki Doki Literature Club

Father believes death of his son, 15, is linked to ‘psychological horror game’ Doki Doki Literature Club as coroner issues warning over self-harming, suicide and violent scenes

  • Darren Walmsley believes ‘dark’ game contributed to the death of his son Ben, 15
  • He claims the animated interactive psychological horror game ‘dragged him in’
  • Doki Doki club features graphic references of violence, suicide and self-harm

Ben Walmsley, 15, from Radcliffe in Bury, Manchester, was found dead in February

A father has hit out at an interactive psychological online horror game which he believes ‘dragged his son in’ and contributed to this death. 

Ben Walmsley, 15, from Radcliffe in Bury, Manchester, died in February and his father Darren claims the Doki Doki Literature Club could be linked to his death.

Police have now issued a warning over the free-to-play game, labelling it a ‘risk to children and young people’.

Schools have also been alerted by a coroner ahead of a pre-inquest review into Ben’s death on June 28.  

While there is no evidence to suggest the game is directly linked to the youngster’s death Mr Walmsley said he believes the ‘dark’ game ‘dragged his son in’.

The 49-year-old revealed Ben was sketching Doki Doki characters and would be contacted by text message during the day and at night, often waking him up after putting his mobile number into the game. 

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.’ 

Ben’s father said he believes the ‘dark’ Doki Doki Literature Club game ‘dragged his son in’


The Doki Doki Literature Club features four animated young girls and a boy who wants to join a school literature club with them.

Players read the game’s story and are then invited to write their own endings.

It was developed in 2017 by game producers, Salvato, and is believed to have been downloaded more than two million times in the first four months. 

The game is available on Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux and can be bought from the downloadable digital store Steam. 

While its creators say it is ‘100% free to play’ it adds users ‘are welcome to contribute any amount’ if they wish and will be rewarded with a fan pack.  

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. 

The game includes mental health issues, voices in the characters’ heads, and violent scenes including a player’s neck snapping.

The game carries a warning in bold online which reads: ‘This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed.’

The Manchester coroner’s office 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.

‘This has arisen due to the fact I am conducting the inquest into the death of a 15-year-old-boy who died earlier this year. Evidence obtained suggested he had used an online game called Doki Doki.’ 

Philips High School in Whitefield, where Ben was a pupil 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’. 

‘Please monitor and check your child’s internet use regularly and be mindful of the time spent.’

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

Headteacher Nicola Hill shared a warning with parents on Hetton Primary School’s Facebook page. 

She wrote: ‘I wanted to warn parents, especially those who might have older children, about this game. ‘The internet is a great thing, but it is also a minefield.’ 

Detective Inspector Jude Holmes, from Greater Manchester Police’s Public Protection Division, said: ‘GMP have been made aware of an online game called ‘Doki Doki’ or Doki Doki Literature Club which is a psychological game. 

‘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. 

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‘I would ask parents to check the sites their children are using on a regular basis, as websites like this aren’t flagged up by normal firewall settings.’

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.’

Mail Online has contacted US creators Team Salvato and the Manchester Coroner’s Office for comment.

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