FNAF and the nature of fear

Despite never having played the games myself (because I don’t have the mental fortitude) I’ve watched so many Let’s Plays and although it probably is obvious by now, I think I’ve finally got a good idea why Five Nights of Freddy’s works on the fear level and why the newer games are not hitting that note as well. And no, It’s not because “jump scares” and no, it’s not entirely the  “lore” either. (although the lore doesn’t hurt. tbh)

Yes, the ingredients that work are visuals, the animatronic designs, the sound design and the anticipation of the jumpcares (not the jumpscares themselves) but I think what the original games had going for them was;

1: the inability to move. Now I’ve heard people say when the 4th one came out “Oh good! I’ve been dying to move in these games for years!” but here’s the thing. When you play a PC game, you are sitting at your desk, staring at a screen. So playing a character essentially sitting at a secuirity office desk, checking cameras, creates a better association to put yourself in the environment of the game because you are physically doing what the character is doing. Once you start moving around in the game, it removes that sense of being within the events.

2: the believability of the environment. In the first game, you’re in a Pizzaria. It looks like a pizzaria, it’s the size of a pizzaria, the rooms are laid out like a pizzaria. The second game is immediately where this starts falling apart and the games never really managed to recapture that. With each game, the enviornements become more and more fantastical and fake. “But what about game 4?? It’s a bedroom! That’s believable!”
Yes, but is it YOUR bedroom? Does it resemble your bedroom that you have in real life? Is it set up with the same furniture? Is it laid out the same way? Because unless it’s a complete re-creation of the game’s bedroom, then there’s no way your brain is going to put itself in the mindset that this is a “real” location. You don’t live in a pizzaria (presumably) but you have probably been to several pizza restaurants. All with different layouts and designs. So it’s easier to believe the first game’s location to a fake bedroom being “your’s”

3: the believability of the animatronic designs. In the first game, they LOOK like animatronics we’ve seen at pizzarias or Disneyland or arcades or any number of places. There is something noticeably “off” about their expressions but that’s more in their posing than the designs. They still look very much like animatronics that could really exist. In the second game, you have the “toy” versions and immediately all bets are off. They’re too slick. too streamlined to resemble real animatronics for kids’ entertainment. They’re “too well made”. In the third one, Springtrap DOES better resemble a rotting animatronic, but unfortunately, because most of us have experiences with working animatronics in real life more than rotting ones, there’s a disconnect there. Also, the “horror” atmosphere of the third game minimises the effect. Springtrap starts blurring into the background. The 4th game’s designs are ridiculous. And the 5th game’s designs are WAY too complex and complicated to resemble any kid of reality at all.

4: the lack of movement. The further the games went, the more we saw the animatroics move. This is actually a bad thing. Did you ever see that “creepy Watson” video on youtube? (if not. Check it out. it’s amazing.) the game creators needed Watson to follow Holmes around, but they hadn’t animated or programmed a walk cycle for him. So they merely had him teleport behind you, ALWAYS behind you, the second he slipped out of your peripheral vision. And even though Watson in the game is your partner and does no harm to you in the game, he becomes TERRIFYING. Because you NEVER see him move. You see him move when he’s in front of you, but you can never catch him in transition. And you can look at him, look away quickly and look back and he’d still be where he was. But once he slips juuuuust far enough out of your vision, he changes position. that’s CREEPY. And it’s what makes the animatronics work. We never see them move, and it gives the sense that we don’t even really know HOW they move. Because we only ever see them stationary.  Standing around, staring at the camera. In the second game we see them get slowly closer in the hallway, but we know it’s because they’re walking. We see them crouched next to the vent so we know they’re crawling in there. We see them slide across the screen while wearing the mask so we know they’re moving. The unsettling nature is removed, because although we don’t physically see them move, our brains fill in the blanks better based on posing and the movement we DO see. And from the 3rd game on we just see them move wholesale. The inclusion of movement is actually a subtractor as far as the uncanny valley goes and the fear it instills in us. It makes it less creepy because we can better understand it.

5: K.I.S.S. (keep it Simple, Stupid.) So what is the “lore” of the first game? There was someone working at Freddy’s who, presumably, murdered a child at the store location and stuffed their body into an inactive suit to hide the evidence. Now none of the animatronics are working right. It’s based partially on a real life event, where a Chuck. E. Cheese employee was fired, came back after hours, and murdered 5 employees cleaning up for the night. THAT is scary. It’s an event we can process. A crazed wacko kills a child, tries to hide the evidence, and it happens at a location. We throw in a weird supernatural twist that “now the animatronics are acting weird” that’s CREEPY.

Now… what’s the lore of the other games?

Erm… well there’s this guy who worked at Freddy’s who killed a bunch of kids and hid them in animatronic suits, and then the ghost of the first kid gave them all life so they could be haunted suits so they want revenge on the security guard because he’s the one who killed them so the security guard came back after the place was closed down so he could further hide the evidence by destroying the animatronics but then the ghost children chased him down so he climbed into a suit and was killed himself so then HE became a haunted animatronic suit and also there’s a kid who’s like in a hopsital because he got hurt at the pizzaria and he’s having like nightmares or is in a come or something and then there’s like this dude who builds these animatronics and he made one that can make ice cream but it killed his daughter at a party by accident and nobody can figure out why or how it happened and she is like a ghost although we don’t really know why and now she wants to use the security guard so she can possess him to free herself of her animatronic body so she can walk around in the real world as a skinwalker to achieve…. something?


The simpler story, based on a real event, of a child murderer and the possibility of ghosts (not the absolute proof of ghosts either I might add. That came in the later games) is scary because it is simple, and it is something far closer to something that COULD really happen (and in some ways DID happen) and the supernatural element is just downplayed enough to make us uncomfortable. There’s no “mystery”. There is vagueness, but no big puzzle to unsolve. It’s a situation that’s very dirty, ugly, and sadly very close to reality.

The other games are about ghosts and revenge and skinwalkers and evil robots and comas and I can’t even remember all of it.

And the fact of the matter is, the story closer to reality is the one I find more unnerving (even with the supernatural element which some people will definitely say kinda takes them out of it, which I can understand. Ghosts don’t do it for everyone.) The “lore” afterwards is so bloated and there’s so much of it that it becomes a fantasy. And although it makes it more “interesting” to theorise and pick over and try to piece together, it also means it makes it less relateable and therefore less scary.

It’s the difference between Silent Hill: Downpour being inspired by The Walking Dead, The Fugitive and The Shawshank Redemption,

And the Original Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2 being inspired by Centralia, Pennsylvanian. A real place that still exists (although most of the buildings are gone now) and is still ill-advised to be visited by tourists. (although people go there anyway because…. Silent Hill.)

You know what I mean?


I actually deeply admire Scott as a creator. He’s someone who got a LOT of criticism for a game made for kids, and which was called “creepy” and “weird” which really upset him for a while. But instead of whining, he decided “ok, you think these characters look creepy? I’ll SHOW you creepy!” and then made sooooo much money. Like, that’s amazing!! We should ALL have that insight and courage in what we create!

I do feel the FNAF games have lost sight of what the core ingredients were that made them as effective as they are; but this is by no means a post calling them “bad” or insulting Scott himself. He deserves all the praise in the world.

I was just thinking this over while watching a let’s Play, and as always, analysing why something did or did not work for me. And when I realised the “you’re sitting in a chair just like the MC” thing, I felt I’d hit on something and decided to jot it down here. Maybe everyone already knew these things and it’s super obvious, but hey. I just like figuring out how stories/settings/enviornments work or don’t work as well. And I’d been wondering for a while why the new games don’t creep me out as someone just watching and not playing.

because the first game really DOES scare the fuck out of me just as an audience member not playing it myself.

Why Gryffindor?

Originally posted by antiochpeverell

1. Harry Potter keeps losing you house points

Gryffindor is the most well-known Hogwarts house in part due to its famous alumni. Albus Dumbledore, Remus Lupin and a certain bespectacled chap we forget the name of, to name but a few.

Like every celebrity party, some of the guests have a tendency to go a little bit diva. Harry Potter’s tendency to evade rules often ends up with The Boy Who Lived becoming more like The Boy Who Drops House Points Like It’s Going Out of Style.

Whether by sneaking around the school after hours, or topping up the perpetual disdain of Professional-House-Point-Subtractor Severus Snape, good luck winning the House Cup while Harry’s a student. Still want his autograph? Of course you do.

2. You have the strictest ever Head of house

Gryffindor’s Head of house is one tough witch. Minerva McGonagall is a force to be reckoned with, and unlike certain other heads of house, (cough, Professor Snape, cough) she isn’t exactly indulgent when it comes to rewarding her students. Gryffindors have to work really hard to earn her approval.

3. You’re expected to be brave ALL the time

The Sorting Hat says it best itself: ‘You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart, their daring nerve and chivalry set Gryffindors apart.’ No pressure, then.

It certainly is a compliment to be described as chivalrous – and definitely a good note to put on your CV or online dating profile. However, students at Hogwarts have to deal with a lot of dangerous stuff, and in Gryffindor there is a bit of an expectation to save the day. Sure, you can probably put a glass over a spider without flinching, but could you do the same so easily with Lord Voldemort?

4. You’re always going to be targeted more than the other houses

It’s bad enough you’re known as ‘the brave ones’, but there’s also the added pressure of the fact that Harry bloomin’ Potter is essentially Gryffindor’s poster boy. A nice fact to brag about at parties, but don’t forget that Harry has been a target ever since he was still in nappies.

If it’s not Sirius Black slicing his way through the common room portrait to get to his godson, it’s Lord Voldemort trying to kill him (again). Whilst Hufflepuffs have a nice evening in, Gryffindors most likely lie awake in bed wondering when next Death Eater is going to pay a visit.

5. The Fat Lady is not the greatest security guard

It ain’t over until the Fat Lady sings. But for Gryffindor students, it ain’t over until the Fat Lady wakes up and actually lets you into your common room. Gryffindor’s capricious portrait subject likes to party, which is bad news when students are trying to get to bed after a hard day Transfiguring teapots into tortoises.

If she’s not off out drinking wine in a different portrait, she’ll sometimes just pretend you’ve got the wrong password for a laugh. Or she’ll just be asleep. You had one job, Fat Lady!

since Bad 1985 in Back to the Future II (the one where Biff Tannen becomes West Coast Donald Trump) includes an October newspaper mentioning President Nixon seeking a fifth term, there is a preexisting fan theory that Bad 1985 is the Watchmen universe

this leads me to conclude that somehow, the man who stepped on Jonathan Osterman’s watch while he was at the fair with Janey Slater, thus breaking it and leading to Osterman having it in his pocket at the lab and accidentally leaving it in the Intrinsic Field Subtractor so that when he went back to it he was trapped and turned into Dr. Manhattan-

that fat man was somehow there to step on Janey’s watch because Marty McFly’s parents didn’t get together. SOMEHOW.

Basic Math Comes In Handy

In everyone’s life, there are four types of people.  There are those who build you up, the adders.  There are those who put you down, the subtractors.  There are those who make you feel alive, the people who would do anything and everything to make you a better person, the multipliers.  There are those that kill you inside, that make you feel worthless and despised, the dividers.  Know which people in your life are what.  Keep the adders and multipliers, rid yourself of the subtractors and dividers.  Only then can you be truly happy.