Friday, May 29, 2015

The World of Five Nights At Freddy's - Story Psychology

Hey everyone! Welcome to a new blog topic - Story Psychology. Stories are a huge part of our lives and they come in all shapes and sizes - movies, TV shows, books, role playing, video games, comics, and even day to day conversations. But there's a psychology to stories. We're attracted to them because of the way they make us feel.

Five Nights At Freddy's
But sometimes, the way they make us feel isn't the EXPECTED way. Genre should dictate our feelings - horror should make us feel scared, humor should make us feel happy, and romance should make us feel loving.

Good stories, however, don't let genre define them, and when fans are in love with a story, their love for the story may change their feelings for it.

For example, let's look at Five Nights at Freddy's.

For anyone who doesn't know Five Nights at Freddy's (all of you that have been hiding under a ROCK since August of 2014) Five Nights is an indie horror game created by Scott Cawthon. The game takes place at a Chuck E. Cheese style pizzeria. You play a night guard, and your goal is to watch a set of security cameras and keep an eye on the animatronic characters.

Oh yeah, and don't die.

The animatronics apparently have a flaw in their systems where they mistake you, the night guard, for an animatronic endoskeleton without its costume on. So if they catch you, they'll try to stuff you inside one of the animatronic suits... which is full of crossbeams, wires, and animatronic devices. As the Phone Guy says, the only parts of you that'll see the light of day again will be your eyes and teeth.

Ugh.

If you want to get a feel for how the game plays, watch Markiplier's play through of the first game. It's definitely got a jump scare value.

The games themselves are huge, and its got a massive following. Scott blasted through development for the games and came out with three games in about nine months or so. It's so huge that Warner Bros. recently picked up movie rights for it.

The world of Five Nights is huge too. Since the story behind the games (and yes, there is a story) is so vague, the games have spawned hundreds of theories.

The Game Theorists have come up with some of the most compelling theories surrounding the games.


The basic story involves a horrible series of murders by a mysterious "purple guy." According to newspaper clippings found in the game, a man used an empty character suit and lured five children into a backroom, murdered them, and stuffed them into the animatronic suits. Canonically, the five spirits of the dead children possessed the character suits and are out for revenge.

And this, dear readers, is where everything stems from. This is where the genre stopped defining our relationship to the characters.

This, as I previously mentioned, is a horror story. But fans of the story are in love with the characters.

Why?

Because of the murders.

Image by Mittenpatty
http://mittenpatty.deviantart.com/art/Five-Nights-at-Freddys-484751633
Few things are more tragic than the death of a child, especially when it's a murder at a place that should be happy. We relate to the sadness. We feel connected to those dead children.

More importantly, we recognize that those spirits are not trying to be malicious. After all, they're just children.

So, even though the robots are trying to kill us, when things go bad for them, we sympathize.

Image via http://rydi1689.tumblr.com/post/116752786026/marksavedfnaf
(Please do not use without the artist's express permission)
YouTuber Markiplier famously played all three Five Nights at Freddy's games and decimated all of them. But in game three, when Markiplier sees the characters being torn up by the Purple Guy, he feels real remorse. We're ATTACHED to them.

Image via http://fnafconfessions.tumblr.com/
I highly doubt Scott Cawthon set out to create beloved characters in these creatures. He intended for us to fear them in only the worst way. He wanted us to run, screaming from their sights. He wanted us to hate them and ENJOY it when they got torn up or when the restaurants were shut down.

Image via http://fnafconfessions.tumblr.com/
But instead we feel REMORSE for these characters. We LOVE them. We CRY when they're injured.

And it's all because of those dead children.

It's funny how emotion works.

What we want, more than anything as a player, is not to live through the night at this stupid, scary job. What we want is for these children to be able to escape their nightmares. We want them to be free. We want their trapped souls to finally find rest.

And Scott Cawthon gives us that ending.

In the third installment of Five Nights at Freddy's, after a series of complex minigames involving bring cake to the crying souls of the murdered children, all six children have had their souls calmed. They leave behind the masks of the suits that housed them. They no longer seek revenge. Instead, they float away on colored balloons, hopefully on some peaceful journey where they can rest.

They're free. And the player, knowing they did some good, can rest easy as well.

So it's not fear that drives our love of these games. Not really. It's something so much deeper than that. It's love. It's sympathy. It's a desire to HELP not DESTROY the souls of the creatures that are trying to murder us for just doing our jobs.

This is what makes Five Nights at Freddy's such a compelling game and such a powerful story.

What do you think of Five Nights at Freddy's? Do you agree with my analysis? Do you know any other stories that defy their genre and create different emotions in our minds? Let me know in the comments below!

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