YIIK: A Postmodern RPG criticized for ‘using’ Elisa Lam’s tragic death

YIIK: A Postmodern RPG has come under fire for strongly referencing the tragic death of Elisa Lam, a Canadian student whose final moments were recorded in security footage that was widely shared online. In a post titled ‘YIIK makes me sick to my stomach and here’s why,’ a player details how the recently released role-playing game references the Lam case in poor taste, showing a character with undeniable resemblances to the student being taken away by a demonic entity. In reality, Lam had bipolar disorder and depression, with theories suggesting that she had been suffering from a psychotic episode

Footage of Elisa Lam in an elevator prior to her death has been the subject of much speculation since the video made its way online. The footage shows Lam behaving erratically, repeatedly peering out of the elevator and pressing a variety of floor buttons. She can then be seen exiting the elevator, seemingly talking with someone just out of view (though no one was reported at the scene), before disappearing. Lam was reported missing on January 31st, 2013, with her body being found in a water tank atop an LA hotel on February 19th of the same year.

In YIIK, protagonist Alex is sent a video file showing another character, Sammy, in an elevator. Alex meets Sammy in an alternate dimension, with her being taken away by a demon. In the footage sent to Alex, the elevator door opens up to the alternate dimension and Sammy is captured. “DON’T LET THEM TAKE ME!” Sammy calls out to Alex.

YIIK then shows text between characters discussing the video. “Anyone know if this is real? Is it from a movie?” one message reads. “Can’t find or deny if it’s from a movie, but if it is it’s probably japanese or something,” another character responds. “However, I think the frame rate, stationary camera, and unattractive woman makes me think it’s at least homemade.”

The scene was summarized by Imgur user JamJamJamJamuel, whose post has now been viewed over 10,000 views along with being widely shared on Twitter. Acck Studios, the indie development team behind YIIK, previously discussed how the story of Elisa Lam influenced the game’s development in an interview with Waypoint:

“The death of Elisa Lam has bothered me since it happened,” said Ackk Studios co-founder Andrew Allanson, “I feel like there still hasn’t been a great official story about her… I remember on local news they reported it from the gross out angle because people drank water that a corpse had been floating in. That’s unfortunate, but what about the poor girl who died? It’s easy to say she was off her meds, but why can’t people think a bit more about her as a person?”

Unfortunately, many believe that Ackk Studios has mishandled the subject matter, with YIIK‘s reference to Elisa Lam being “bloodier and more gruesome than it needs to be.” Perhaps in response to the backlash, Ackk Studios has seemingly deleted a Reddit comment in which the studio’s official account reportedly stated the team was “moved by the terrible case of Elisa Lam,” and that “her suffering was influential in the development of the game.”

We’ve reached out to Ackk Studios and will update this story when we receive a response.