Can you imagine a video game centered around killing students at a high school? If you're having trouble it's probably because you know that no game development company would be so bold to create a game in such poor taste. Now, what if I told you that this game already exists, and has millions of devoted followers? Enter the weird and twisted world of "Yandere Simulator," the game about murdering schoolgirls.
"Yandere" is a complicated Japanese aesthetic that can basically be boiled down to the phrase "crazy in love." The yandere is a stock character sometimes used in Japanese thrillers and horror stories in which a (usually female) character is driven so insane by her love for a protagonist that she is literally willing to kill anyone whom she perceives as a threat to her oftentimes nonexistent relationship. However, the yandere is so dangerous because her crazy is an internal and hidden type, appearing only to protect her love.
In Yandere Simulator, you play as the titular Yandere-chan, a cute high school girl and psychopath who is madly in love with an upperclassman simply known as "senpai." Unfortunately, Yandere-chan is too shy to confess her love to Senpai, who seems to not be aware of her existence. This is a minor inconvenience to Yandere-chan, who is so hellbent on keeping Senpai as her own that she begins her (and your) quest to murder, blackmail, or frame a series of twelve rivals who are also interested in the same boy. Rivals can be killed in a variety of creative methods, ranging from electrocution to immolation to a good old fashioned knife to the neck.
The game also includes a variety of other questionable actions, including taking photos of (presumably) under-aged girls' panties as blackmail material and burning corpses in an incinerator. One of the most controversial methods of elimination involves becoming what is essentially the Japanese Regina George of your school turned up to 11- it's possible in the game to learn secrets about other girls, spread rumors, convince others to stop speaking to said character, and bully her to the point where she hangs herself in full-view for the players.
Perhaps one of the most upsetting parts of the game is how fast it's picked up speed with the sub-sixteen crowd. The internet is no stranger to controversial and violent games (such as Grand Theft Auto V or the Hitman series), but these types of mainstream games usually carry a "Mature" rating, restricting access to those over the age of 17. Because Yandere Simulator is a fringe game still in it's beta phase (and thus free to play), it's been picked up by YouTube "Let's Play"-ers, those whose channels specialize in playing and commentating on video games and become insanely popular. Pewdiepie (the online alias for Felix Kjellberg and the most subscribed channel on Youtube) began playing the game in March of 2015. Since that time, the game has exploded in popularity; a recent poll now shows that 43% of the game's fan-base is between the ages of 11 and 15. The developer claims to recieve upwards of 300 emails a day from young fans of the game.
You can follow the development of Yandere Simulator through the developer's blog here. Because Yandere Simulator is still in it's development phase, it has not garnered much mainstream media attention. However, when the full game is finally released, there is no doubt to the endless controversy will follow.