Are you cheating?: The relationship between agency and breaking the fourth wall in Doki Doki Literature Club!
Oudenalder, A. van den
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The dating sim Doki Doki Literature Club! (Team Salvato, 2017) in the form of a visual novel has been a great success. The game’s lure does not lie in the cuteness of the game, but rather in the horrors that are behind this cute facade. The genre-breaking aspects and the fourth wall breaks in this game create alienation. The player’s sense of agency is also questioned. Therefore, this research focuses on the relationship between agency and breaking the fourth wall in Doki Doki Literature Club!. Little is written on this topic and this game is a great example to analyse this relationship. This research can be placed in the debate around agency. Some background information about genre conventions and breaking the fourth wall is also given to give more context. A game analysis and using two different types of play, instrumental and free play, are used as a method to uncover the relationship between agency and breaking the fourth wall in Doki Doki Literature Club!. The analysis of this research shows that the player’s agency has many aspects regarding breaking the fourth wall. Agency is used as a topic to play with breaking the fourth wall. The player’s agency can be expanded, threatened and limited by fourth wall breaks. These factors add to the fact that Doki Doki Literature Club! is a genre-breaking game, since it puts the player in the position that they cannot choose a character to date with, but the main character, Monika, chooses to date the player instead. Moreover, the player can shape the protagonist, who is an empty shell. By doing this, the player’s agency is not limited to the protagonist’s personality and their actions; the player can fill these factors themselves to take meaningful action.