(Warning: this post contains theories/spoilers.)
If there’s one thing Jaime and I have in common, it’s our interest in the “how” and “why” of crime. It’s a lot like someone interested in electronics–we take apart the facts and mechanics of a situation or story, and we like to see what elements are underneath it all. In turn, it pushes us to do proper research and interviews when writing about crime and mental illness.
Five Nights at Freddy’s has been holding my attention lately. As a child, I used to love Showbiz Pizza (before–ha!–It was renamed to Chuck E. Cheese). The animatronics from the creepy band obviously influenced Five Nights at Freddy’s. Who wasn’t afraid of the robotic band? The character designs were awful.
For those who don’t know, Five Nights at Freddy’s is a video game inspired by Showbiz/Chuck E. Cheese. The player works as a night guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. Your job is to make sure all of the animatronics stay in place (and don’t find their way to your office to kill you). If you make it to 6am for five days, you win. If you don’t, something pops out of nowhere and stuffs you in an animatronic suit.
So far there’s two games, an engaging back-story, and a third installment that’s probably going to be released two weeks from now.
Here’s a trailer from the first game if you want to check it out:
I absolutely subscribe to the idea that Phone Guy is the real killer. Know what else? I think Scott Cawthon was also inspired by the Texas Killing Fields. It’s publicly known he lives in Texas and attended the Art Institute of Houston, so let’s imagine this for a second:
When I was in middle school, I was sent to Houston to attend a better school system until I could graduate from the 12th grade. My mother was pretty afraid for my safety in Detroit, and thought Houston might be a bit better for me. She was ultimately right, but what she wasn’t aware of was Houston’s problem with child abduction and murder.
I remember being told over and over to never get in any stranger’s car when I was walking to school. When I got older and began to date, I remember my father rushing out to write down the license plate of my date’s car. I always thought that was a bit weird and wrote it off as parental protocol.
But as I got older, I started noticing things. Men pulling over to the side of the road in their cars to talk to me. More specifically, men in vans. I also noticed more and more stories about abductions in the news. Sure, it is a nationwide crime and abduction happens everywhere, but it happened so much in Houston.
And this is where the Texas Killing Fields comes in. The lore about women who went missing in the field just outside of Harris County. The story got so big, a movie was inspired by it.
Houston has a child killer problem. And that problem, and the lore of it, has most likely worked its way into Five Nights at Freddy’s. In the same Game Theorist video, it’s pointed out that after the first set of murders in the game, the owners implement a sex offender database in the new animatronics.
Was Scott commenting about how we can often live in close proximity of ex-cons and not be aware of it? If Phone Guy is the real killer in the FNaF series, that means he lived in the same town and was even hired back at the same restaurant chain across a span of years. For years, people trusted him. His voice over the phone is friendly and unassuming. For him to wreak that kind of havoc under people’s noses is pretty terrifying.
It’s every parents’ nightmare for the worst to happen to their own children. That fear can drive a parent to, say, send their kid across the country to attend a better school system. It can make people move out of the city. It can do all kinds of things.
It might even make them create a video game that comments on how an obsession with children and the constant urge to harm others might cause someone to hang around child-friendly places, and how parents shouldn’t be so trusting of others.
Scott Cawthon has two children of his own. He might have been inspired by his own fears.