On October 31st, The Games Institute held a multidisciplinary horror game themed panel, focusing on the critically acclaimed Five Nights at Freddy's (FNAF) franchise. Panelists were GI members Betsy Brey and Pamela Maria Schmidt, and Marisa Benjamin moderated.
FNAF is a horror game franchise that started in 2014, which focuses on playing the role of a security guard at Freddy's Fazbear's Pizzaria and surviving against the establishment's possessed animatronics for five nights. The series gained much acclaim due to its terrifying and unique gameplay and its non-traditional narrative by focusing on telling the story in subtle ques and environmental storytelling, instead of focusing on linear narrative structures.
Each panelist analyzed the FNAF franchise through the lens of their own disciplinary perspective.
Brey, Editor in Chief of First Person Scholar and PhD candidate in the Department of English, focused on analyzing the games subtle storytelling and meta-narratives from a games scholar perspective; in particular when it comes to the game’s unique para-narrative structure. She has studied the FNAF franchise for years through game studies theories and paradigms, focusing on the intersection of narratological structures in gameplay.
Schmidt, M.A candidate in English, Experimental Digital Media and Assistant Project Manager at the Games Institute, analyzed the game’s mechanics and narrative aspects from a Slavic studies perspective, drawing from her BA minor degree in Russian and Eastern European studies. She noted how the lack of agency and revenge narrative in horror games, such as FNAF, draws parallels to the narratives that came out of Slavic countries during eras of supreme oppression.
The panelists considered what makes FNAF so adaptable as the franchise has a multimedia empire housing games, books, merchandise, and theme park attractions. The panelists state the game series taps into universal fears which makes it frightening for many.