If you haven't heard of Five Nights at Freddy's yet, you will soon. With a movie deal confirmed, this horror video game series has launched indie developer, Scott Cawthon, into the spotlight. And now Five Nights at Freddy's is lined up to become a successful franchise, making the creator of it rich beyond his wildest dreams.
Just to catch you up on it, the game is set in a fictional pizza restaurant, Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, where a lone night security guard is left to defend against malfunctioning animatronic animal characters. It's a survival game, using a point-and-click method and is sold on many of the various sites where you can get your gaming needs.
What most in the Five Nights at Freddy's fandom do not know however, is that Scott Cawthon is a Christian who used to exclusively make Christian video games. This has led to some debate on whether or not a Christian should be developing works in the horror genre.
A continuing debate
With horror having a link to the demonic realm—using violent and sickening images to turn people's hearts hard and against the Creator of the universe—is there any surprise it rings some alarm bells for some Christians? The drive for horror is usually attempting to titillate our youthful desire to be scared witless. At best, it's an idle waste of time that could be better used on focus oneself on God. At worst, it's an attempt to sear the conscience and deaden the soul.
However, there are other Christians on the opposite end of the spectrum. Writer/director of horror movies (another Scott) Scott Derrickson has said: "To me, this genre deals more overtly with the supernatural than any other genre, it tackles issues of good and evil more than any other genre, it distinguishes and articulates the essence of good and evil better than any other genre, and my feeling is that a lot of Christians are wary of this genre simply because it's unpleasant. The genre is not about making you feel good, it is about making you face your fears. And in my experience, that's something that a lot of Christians don't want to do."
The creator, Scott Cawthon, is certainly making a lot of people face their fears, or give them brand new fears about animatronics and the elusive 'Golden Freddy'.
Christian projects don't pay
Scott has had his struggles though. He told Geeks under Grace about feeling God "either didn't exist, or [hated him]" because his Christian projects were financial failures and he felt like he'd wasted time creating them.
He commented about the lessons he'd learned: "Success comes on God's terms, in His time, and in His way. God only allowed me to have success after I'd been broken, after I'd stopped seeking success for myself, and after I'd come to terms with the idea that my labors for God might not ever bring me a penny. It was only after I'd lost everything that God was able to get my heart right to the point where He could trust me with success."
Is selfish ambition enmity against God?
Which is what brings me to my next point: was the pull of the dollar driving Scott's creation of Five Nights at Freddy's or was it the desire to glorify God? Had he given up on God because God wasn't making him rich? The Bible tells us, "the laborer is worthy of his wages." (1 Timothy chapter 5, verse 18). But it also says, "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit." (Philippians chapter 2, verse 3). It's up to us to reconcile these two truths.
Scott Cawthorn recently donated a large sum of money to a hospital, which would outwardly go to show he isn't selfishly clinging to what God has blessed him with. But then again, this tells us nothing of his personal fellowshipping with God, as some successful non-believers give to charity too (but not as many as those who should give to charity instead of sitting on their millions like Smaug from the Hobbit).
But can we really judge the state of someone's soul? We're supposed to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, not another's. We can't assess Scott Cawthorn, but we can assess ourselves. Has selfish ambition become more important than fellowshipping with God? Will you still trust God if you don't have money or success?
Why it matters
As a new indie Christian game developer (you can find some of my works in the Google Play store under the name GODline-Pilgrim), I hope Scott will go back to making some Christian games. I think it would be a terrible shame for the industry to not have more exclusively Christian, well-made games on the market.
Most of all, I hope he sees his success for what it is. A fickle, fleeting acceptance from a world in rebellion to God that can be taken back again in an instant. I pray he is weary when everyone loves him, as everyone hated our Master. Please join me in praying for Scott—that he will not lose what is really important in light of the future temptations coming to him.
Bridget Brenton has been researching apologetics, philosophy and the paranormal for years. You can check her apologetic effort out at 101arguments.com
Bridget Brenton's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/bridget-brenton.html