Five Nights at Freddy’s or “FNAF” for short is a game that has garnered a massive cult following among children and adults alike. But what is it and why is it so popular? Is it even appropriate for children to be playing in the first place?
Game Asylum has you covered.
The basic premise of Five Nights at Freddy’s is that you are an overnight security guard at a children’s entertainment center, not unlike Chuckie Cheese. You have to work through 5 nights (hence, the name of the game) and watch low quality security cameras to monitor the animatronics throughout the building. These animatronics (robots in animal costumes) roam freely all night and are your main enemies in the game. You on the other hand, are stuck in your security room.
There are many different cameras, each one connected to a different room in the building, and while the animatronics do not move when you are looking, they can change rooms when you are not.
If the animatronics get too close to the room that you are in, you have to shut the doors or turn on lights to fend them off. You have a limited amount of “power” to distribute among the doors, lights, and cameras so one cannot simply keep the doors closed and the lights off through the entire game. If you run out of power, the animatronics breach your room. If you aren’t fast enough at closing the doors, the animatronics breach your room. Once this happens it’s GAME OVER.
The reason this game is classified as a horror game, is not simply because the animatronics are visually terrifying. It is also because a GAME OVER is indicated by a “jump scare” which is when an animation of one of the animatronics suddenly pops up on one’s screen accompanied by a shrill, mechanical sounding yell. It is meant to make the player literally “jump” and scare them.
Now that you know the basics of WHAT the game is all about, here are some other questions you might have:
Why is it so popular?
There are a few reasons why Five Nights at Freddy’s is so popular. One of the big reasons is that it is easy to play but difficult to master. Kids love a good challenge, and since failing at this challenge means having the daylights scared out of you – there is good incentive to stay focused and pay attention.
Another major reason why this game is so popular is because it is immensely fun to WATCH other people play. Popular youtubers have played this game on their youtube channels and watching them panic and freak out about it is very entertaining. A lot of kids see their favourite youtubers playing a game and want to play it themselves.
The other reason this game is so immensely popular is its story. Despite the simple overall premise, this game has a lot of hidden concepts and ideas that ultimately can be put together to form something of a story. There are 4 games out currently, and looking for clues across the games is something that a lot of people are obsessed with. The creator of the game has not confirmed or denied any of the theories out there at the current time, but that gives people all the more reason to investigate the clues and try and put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Is it appropriate for children to be playing?
The short answer is no, this game is not appropriate for younger gamers. The “jump scares” that happen when a player loses the game are very unnerving, and for that reason more than anything this game is not appropriate for younger players to even be watching.
The longer answer is yes, this game is acceptable. Aside from the jump scares, there is no blood or gore in any of the main story, and while the visuals can be very creepy and unnerving – there is nothing in this game that would raise any of the red flags that most other games would. No guns, no violence, and no swearing.
For any children under the age of 7, use caution, as the jump scares might cause some terrified tears. However they might not. It really depends on the specific child and how they react to being surprised. This video, for example, shows a father playing with his 3 year old son and clearly the child is frightened, but not upset. He even asks to play it again after being frightened the first time.
The really terrifying and inappropriate part of this game is in its story – which one really only learns about by analyzing the game to a microscopic degree. Without getting into too much detail, the story involves a child murderer and the animatronics shoving your character into a robotic suit – which would essentially mean being torn to pieces by the robotic parts inside. While these concepts might seem horrifying, they are not apparent in the main game. The animatronics stuffing you into a suit is hinted at, but not explained in full detail to the player and the murderer isn’t blatantly talked about at all.
Are there any educational benefits to this game?
There aren’t any obvious educational benefits to Five Nights at Freddy’s.
One could argue that it helps children learn how to multi-task effectively. They have to control the doors, lights, and cameras all at the same time at an increasing level of speed and difficulty over the course of the 5 nights. Aside from that, it is more of an entertaining game than an educational one.
Can this game be played as a family?
As mentioned previously in the article, this game is generally safe for kids ages 7+ to watch and play. Younger than that, children will have different reactions to the “jump scares” in the game that will depend on their personalities. If kids can handle being surprised, they will probably be okay with Five Nights at Freddy’s.
If everyone in your family can handle jump scares, this game makes for a fantastic family activity.
First, hook up a laptop with the game on it to a tv screen. Then have one family member at a time play the game while the rest of the family watches on the tv screen. For added effect, turn off all the lights.
When the “jump scares” happen (and they will!) the entire family can share in the experience and laugh it off afterword. The rest of the family can also call out tips to the active player and help them to survive through the 5 nights.
Overall, Five Nights at Freddy’s is nothing to be too worried about. A child’s personality is more an indicator of their tolerance of the game than anything else. There aren’t really any educational benefits to the game, but it works great as a family activity and the game’s controls are simple enough to understand that anyone can play it and enjoy.