I hate jumpscares. It’s so bad that when playing Gone Home in that spooky house, I freaked out several times even though I was assured by multiple people that there was nothing to worry about in this game.
So why the hell am I consuming Five nights at Freddy’s lore and fan theories like they’re Hershey chocolates?
It’s because there are so many unanswered questions!
This game is an indie game that was released Aug. 2014 on Microsoft windows and as a mobile app. It was made using Clickteam fusion 2.5 engine. Its mechanics consist of a stationary character sitting in an office trying to defend against four animatronics that will kill you if they get their hands on you. You have cameras that watch the rest of the building and doors to close when they approach, which use up a significant amount of your power. It makes every movement you have to make precious and deliberate or you get munched by these demons from Chuck E. Cheeses’ past. You only have to last for five nights from 12am to 6am, then you complete the game. The mechanics are intriguing (if you’re into that sort of thing,) and the attraction brought it a lot of instant fans, generating many “lets plays” on Youtube.
But what keeps people coming back is the “hidden” lore.
It’s not really hard to find. If you take the time to look around the walls of this east hallway you’ll find the history of the place: Freddy Fazzbear’s Pizza. The place fell out of favor when five children disappeared and are presumed dead, by a man that used an extra mascot suit to lure them into the back room and kill them. The police caught him but the children’s bodies were never found. It is heavily implied that the children were stuffed into the five animatronics (yes there is a secret fifth animatronic if you look hard enough.).
This is easy to figure out, but only if you find these newspaper clippings. The clues are really straight forward compared to the rest of the plot. So why are there a ton of people obsessed with this game and it’s “subtly?” People love feeling like they’ve worked for their prize, especially gamers. Even just having this “hidden lore” leads to a sense of accomplishment. It’s like opening a really tough pickle jar. When everything is desperate (I.E. you’re hungry or animatronics are trying to kill you), and nothing is working out (the lid isn’t coming off or you’re running out of power). Then one thing goes right (you have ham instead because pickles are the grossest thing ever or you figure out some hidden lore) and then you feel amazing, and it’s even better because you didn’t need any help, you accomplished this entire mission on your own, so what if you didn’t get your first goal (pickles or surviving through the game) you got a secret achievement. It’s enough to let you sit down and enjoy the rest of your day.
But then you get into the spin offs.
This game as not only spawned a huge fan base in a matter of months, it also spawned two games, FNAF 2 and 3, each one upped the ante of game mechanics and in suspense, but they also added to the convoluted lore. The events leading up to the second game aren’t explicitly stated, only portrayed by these “Death minigames,” that will sometimes appear if you are killed by a certain animatronic. The information is so vague, not even giving you a straight answer on anything. In the beginning, people were raging about whether the second one was a prequel or a sequel, with the majority landing in the prequel section eventually, and that was only after a few weeks of piecing together tiny, miniscule pieces of information. It’s just enough to tease, and not enough to give concise facts, leading to forum after forum of fan theories.
Almost everything pertaining to the plot has to be picked apart, and once that is done, there are many interpretations. It keeps the discussions alive and thriving, prompting the game’s creator, Scott Cawthon, to create the rest of the series in such a short amount of time. And he doesn’t even have to do much to hide things. His fan base has gotten so dedicated that even his mistakes and glitches are scrutinize as contribution to the lore. Half of the interaction with this game is outside of the programing and in the fanbase itself.
Whether the hype is because of innovative game mechanics, purposely vague lore, or a terrifying concept that hits too close to home. It has grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Though I have a no intention of playing this game again.