I hope you’re ready, senpai. Our next rabbit hole involves a simulated Japanese high school and lots of juicy, yummy… murder.
So, the Senpai Notice Me music vid I mentioned last time caused me to dig a little further and find out what was actually behind all that dark hilarity. Why did it seem to feature a Japanese school girl running around taking out all the rivals for the boy she liked? And everyone was smiling about that? And it was a kinda cute & catchy, though creepy, tune? But this had to be a parody of a nice, wholesome senpai-related video game, right?
Um, no… Love Sick: Yandere Simulator is an actual computer game about a teen school girl who decides to take out all the rivals for her beloved senpai’s heart. Using murder. And other elimination methods. Yandere Simulator also has a GIANT following (and growing) eventhough it hasn’t even been completed yet. That’s very hard for me to wrap my mind around, but it sounds like that’s becoming more and more common these days for video games.
Yandere Simulator turned out to be another great online discovery that sucked me in, similar to the Ace Attorney games that I haven’t yet been able to play yet, becaaause… the fandom. Is. Hilarious. There is so much to be entertained by, and the game’s creator is fascinating, even inspiring. If you like video games and you like stories about the underdog punching corporate in-the-fayce, then read on.
My investigation: CSI Royal Jelly
Well, I had to figure out what the heck was going on. At first, I assumed a concept so creative and thrilling as Yandere Simulator would have been birthed from a major game franchise. But it gets better… Yandere Simulator is definitely not that. A lone game developer who left his company pitched an idea about a ‘yandere simulator game’ on 4chan a few years ago and then got a lot of excited responses. The developer, who goes by YandereDev, has said in his YouTube channel that he really wanted to break out and make his own video game. He pitched several ideas for video games online before that, but people always had some complaint or other about the main character he had in mind. (I have to say, I’m not too surprised 4chan folk would do something like that.) The rest is history. Well, recent internet fame history.
What’s a ‘yandere?’
According to YandereDev, in Japanese pop culture, “A Yandere girl is a girl who loves a boy so much that she is willing to threaten, harm, or kill any other girl who seems interested in him.”
In the end, YandereDev fleshed out the yandere simulator game with a main character that was more like a blank slate. The game intro, which I found chilling when I watched my first playthrough on YouTube, is simple and also, well… perfectly gripping that way. Ayano (nicknamed Yandere Chan) begins, “I can’t feel anything… but everything changed, when I met him. My senpai.” Listen for a while longer and you feel disturbed, but you also really begin to feel for Ayano, “Nothing else matters. No one else matters. Senpai will be mine. He doesn’t have a choice.” I don’t know about you guys, but by the end of the intro, I kind of… was with Ayano. I was kind rooting for that girl. That blank slate stuff works! You can stand in her shoes and really feel her pain, see her struggle in your own struggles… Haha–Or, I guess maybe I’ve just been on too many sucky dates lately. Well anyway, take a look. What do you think?
Are you scared, yet?
How’s the Game Work?
YandereDev compares his game to Hit Man. Except that you are a homidical schoolgirl taking out all the competition for a guy you are obsessed with. Other girls, male rivals that want to hang out with him, anybody. So… Ayano’s running around in her adorable school uniform, giggling sweet as pie… but killing people. YandereDev also makes many references to Persona 5, another game focused on a Japanese high school. In a nutshell, Yandere Simulator is a cute dating sim gone wrong The first few minutes of this video explain it well.
I know, right?! Good Lord… what a great idea for a computer game. What great story-telling on YandereDev’s part. He is obviously creative enough, talented enough, and determined enough to really make this brilliant idea come to life. As far as marketability… how is homicidal school girl trying to get senpai for herself not already a popular anime or a series of thriller movies? This concept is solid gold. People, girls and guys (I think I saw that 46 percent of the fans are female?) alike are interested in this game. Actually, people love this game so much, there’s already a fandom, very many machinima series (like watching a TV show of the game), a fan-made Yandere mod in Super Smash Bros and lots of other juicy fan-made tidbits. Heck! I’ve even got an Ayano wallpaper on my own desktop as we speak!
Remember, now. This game is not even finished yet. All the videos you see on YouTube, all the fanfiction.net stories (yep, I looked—of course), the machinima, all of it—is based on just the beta version version of the game. Twitch can ban Yandere Simulator from being played online all it likes, but people are still crazy about this game. And the main character Ayano seems to have even been parodied in at least one existing popular video game, Persona 5. The word about Yandere Simulator is already out, and the world expects the game to be damned good. No wonder YandereDev has been able to recuit a league of volunteers to help him with animations and other coding aspects once the project became too big for him alone. tinyBuild (think Hello Neighbor) has also partnered with him to make the game happen. And get this, by that time, the tinyBuild CEO’s wife was already playing Yandere Simulator.
The darker side of the game
I did mention a little while ago that the game was banned on TwitchTV. For those who don’t know, Twitch is a site where you can watch people playing their favorite video games. As a gamer, you can even livestream when you play your favorite video game and earn money from it. (I once had a ball watching Isabella Bunny Bennett, of Steam Powered Giraffe, play World of Warcraft. God, she is so naturally funny… but I digress.) TwitchTV actually banned Yandere Simulator from being streamed on their site, a complicated issue which YandereDev himself explains best in his YouTube appeal video to the company. After, was it… 13 months or so? he finally got a response from TwitchTV afterward, which shows how powerful this one game developer has become. (YandereDev’s following had grown in the meantime to over 200,000 fans.)
So, to address the cons of the game… I can see why people would have problems with this game. I’ll admit that I have my own concerns about it. However, for my stuff, I keep in mind that I’m not a gamer who’s fond of blood and gore; I have issues with even scary movies anyway, so the ‘killing aspect’ doesn’t concern me too much. I know that video games are bloody and that it’s my own personal thing that I can’t handle it. I’m also very familiar with anime-style models and if I can sit through poor Mami having her head bitten off in heartbreaking battle at the start of Puella Magi Madoka Magica (long story), I know what that represents: a hero, even a young hero, fighting a monster, and facing a realistic consequence. And I understand that the artists have a point and a purpose for setting the battle up like that, and many other animated stories involving younger people are communicating the same thing: an epic life and death struggle. I understand that it’s not meant to depict a young person suffering. So I also get that Yandere Simulator is not about that at all.
However… to someone who has never even seen anything like Yandere Simulator before, watching a high schooler become a serial killer might be very uncomfortable. I’m still a bit uncomfortable, really. Hardest for me: watching the other young girls get killed in gruesome ways in the YouTube playthroughs I’ve seen; and I’m definitely not a fan of the misogynistic panty shots (though I know there are similar and worse video games out there as YandereDev points out)… But, then again, I find the idea of choosing what Ayano… uh… wears each day to get a certain buff, like plus-gossiping skills (much like picking armor or a weapon from any video game inventory) is hilarious. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as you think. It’s just… goofy. I cracked up laughing.
And I still remember what it was like to be a teenager who is sick and tired of being picked on. Being able to fight back and get the ‘mean girls’ is cool too. So it definitely would have that kind of punk-girl appeal. A third con for me, I don’t see why there needs to be an elimination method that involves bullying a student into suicide, when that is a serious issue in schools, so that part feels too close to home for me. Again, the player doesn’t have to choose to go this route, but that’s my two cents about it, if we’re going to talk about every aspect of the game.
But did you even play the game?
This time… I did play the game. But it didn’t last long, since I quickly realized I wanted to play the full, completed version of the game. I sat down and had Ayano run around a bit, had her try on all the different accessory mods (fox tail and senpai voodoo doll on her shoulder were my faves), I attempted to gossip and ruin a student’s reputation, even made a kill right before I logged off to see if it would be too weird for me. (And it was.) All things that do not qualify me to talk about the game play beyond what I’ve observed on YouTube, if that. So there’s my disclaimer. When I do get my chance to play the finished game, I can guarantee you I’m going to try to win over senpai without killing, which YandereDev says is possible. But that’s just because it’d be my preference and play style… that is, unless any of those annoying rivals really, really piss me off.
I know plenty of others won’t play in a non-violent way, and I can completely understand that. Being a cute high school serial killer is sort of the point of the game anyway. You should also keep in mind that YandereDev has set up consequences for murder in the game and there are plenty of NPCs in the game that will go after Ayano and punish her if they see her commit a crime.
Wanna see for yourself? (This isn’t safe for work, by the way.)
I also like how you can ‘choose your own adventure’ the way YandereDev has set up the reputation meter and the sanity meter. The more Ayano kills, the more sanity she loses, the darker the game becomes. Also, if Ayano gets a bad reputation with the other students, they will stop trusting her, and they cower before her wherever she walks… It makes me think of a much older game, called Black & White. In Black & White, you were the god of a civilization and if you were kind to your little villagers, then your large floating hand would be angelic and beautiful looking. The more evil you were to them, the darker your world became, the more frightened the villagers were, and that floating hand of yours turned into a dark claw with red talons. Video games are good at enabling you to manipulate your world, to immerse in your own story like that. It’s so much fun to think you’re having a special, unique play experience.
In the end, maybe someone who has actually played Yandere Simulator much further than I did would have more insight. This is definitely not a review of the game. It’s just me explaining Yandere Simulator to people who are curious. Play Yandere Simulator yourself or watch the playthroughs and decide what you think. Also, I do get that playing a violent video game (and I bet a lot of gamers would say that it isn’t that violent at all, comparatively) is probably the same as choosing to go and watch a horror movie. If you don’t want that, then you don’t go and see it, right? But anyway, violence in video games is a much bigger conversation than this blog post.
Why you should follow YandereDev
In the end, it’s hella fascinating to watch a game like this even being developed… I’m still beside myself that an unfinished game can be so popular. Unfinished games like Hello Neighbor show up on websites like TwitchTV which helps spread awareness. And then game developers can get funding for completing development by offering alpha versions of the game to players for a fee. I can’t believe I didn’t know that before. I love knowing that now! In following YandereDev’s channel, I’ve also learned about how challenging it is to create a game like this as a freelance developer, about how you can find and render character models from certain websites that offer all kinds, recruit voice actors, and on and on… as a geek and a gamer, that was so very much fun to learn about.
Coolest… voice… ever
And here is the part where I mention that YandereDev has a really cool voice. His spooky, relaxed (whether or not it’s intended) monotone keeps you on the edge of your seat. I actually think he should insert his godvoice someplace near the end of the game and kind of imbue himself as a larger-than-life personality inside of his own creation. He could have a following and a fanbase all his own (if he hasn’t got one already). So the channel alone has got a lot of entertainment value. Ladies and gentlemen, this is modern gaming. I actually think it’s about as good as watching a reality TV show about building a video game, as YandereDev fields weird fan questions, kills Midori, hashes out concerns about the game being banned from TwitchTV, kills Midori again, balances fan needs with game requirements, explains how selecting one unique hairstyle led to a character that people became obsessed with, explains how development is going each week… And then kills Midori yet another time. It’s remarkable!
I do admire it. I really, really do. YandereDev has a lot to be proud of, obviously. I like hearing about when creative people progress toward their goals and succeed. Following YandereDev’s channel is your chance to be a fan of Yandere Similator ‘before it was cool,’ and a lot of other fans are very fond of him and all his hard work. Just check out what happened this year, around YandereDev’s birthday…
The game is still on the verge of it, but it really hasn’t quite hit mainstream. I’m making my prediction now that in three years’ time, you’ll start hearing about it all over the place. Get in while it’s hot. Or, rather, a delicious pie cooling on the window sill that not many have not smelled yet.
Sometimes, I tune into YandereDev’s channel just to see what he’s come up with next. I love to know how it’s going. And also, of course, to hear Midori whine, “YandereDev! YandereDev! I sent you an email…” Then, he kills her. Good ole’ YandereDev. Also, his videos are full of hilarious references to other games and anime, in addition to great artwork. And then, there are dark, spooky stories about the characters…
To learn more about YandereDev and his game, and to judge for yourself, check out the full YouTube channel. Note… there are more than a million subscribers. Wow.
By the way, I just love the lead girl Ayano’s “Yandere Chan’s” permanent jaded frown. I mean, we’ve all felt like that on one day or another… but you have to roll pretty damn hard to wear that frown every day. God bless ‘er.