This year, for our teen summer program, my amazing teen services assistant Martha and I, grounded our theme in nightmares. We thought it would be a cool, unexpected way to encourage teens to face their fears and challenge themselves. Each week, we set up phobia-themed activities to help teens get engaged. To kick off our program, we tried to think of something exciting, on brand, and fun. What we came up with, was a live-action version of Five Nights At Freddy’s.
Now, there are a few of us who are “of a certain age” and remember “Showbiz Pizza” or the original “Chuck E. Cheese”, and can think back to being horrified by the giant animatronic beings who would lip sync loud kiddie-rock songs.
Well, what if those horrifying creatures got up and walked around at night?
Five Nights at Freddy’s, for those who have never seen or played the wildly popular game, is a first-person horror game filled with jump-scares that imagines just that.
The main character, whose name is later revealed to be Mike Schmidt, has started a job working as a night watch security guard at the restaurant Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.A voicemail message left by Mike’s predecessor explains that the animatronic animal characters used at the restaurant, Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chica and the disused Foxy, are able to roam freely around it at night, because if they were left off for too long, their servomotors would lock up. He also adds that the animatronics were no longer allowed to roam freely during the day following an incident referred to as the “Bite of ’87”, which apparently involved the loss of someone’s frontal lobe. The employee warns Mike that if one of the robots encounters a human, they will automatically assume that it is an endoskeleton that is not in costume yet, and “forcefully stuff them” into a spare mechanical Freddy Fazbear costume, killing the person in the process.
The player must survive their shift, lasting from midnight to 6:00 a.m., without being attacked by one of the animatronic animal robots roaming the facility. The player, who sits in an office and is unable to move, is given access to a network of security cameras throughout the facility to track the movement of the animatronic robots. The camera feeds are dimly lit and distorted, one of the rooms only contains an audio feed, and the cameras do not cover certain areas of the building, most notably the two hallways directly to the left and right of the player. The player cannot leave the guard room, but can close the doors to defend themselves, and briefly turn on lights in the hallways to check for animatronics.Use of these actions consume the player’s limited electrical power; if the power runs out, the cameras become inoperable, the doors open, and the lights go out, leaving the player with no defense against an attack. Once these things happen, music will play, it will go pitch black, and, if the player is not lucky enough to survive to 6 AM in the meantime, Freddy will jumpscare the player, who then loses the game.
Sounds great, right? So how do we condense and translate all of that into a life-sized game? Well we knew off the bat that of course we couldn’t replicate controlling security cameras and roaming giant robots, so we decided to make it into a game of flashlight tag.
Supplies: Five Nights masks (Make your own with coloring sheets, or we grabbed some for $4 from Etsy), a flashlight, eager teens, and of course, pizza!
Four Animatronics on the floor per round
One “Security Guard” on duty per round.
Security Guard has 1 minute to survive the round.
Each round begins with the Animatronics finding their own hiding place on the floor. When the time starts, the Security Guard has 1 minute to begin their watch. If they spot an Animatronic, they must flash them with the flashlight to stop their approach. If an Animatronic is flashed, it must freeze wherever it is for 5 seconds. While it is frozen, the Guard must try to find and stop the other three Animatronics without being tagged before the time runs out.
It sounds simple enough, but the teens soon began to think about the fact that while they were scoping out who to freeze, it always meant that at least one or more were roaming freely. Ta da! Built in jumpscares. We piped a few spooky tunes over the loudspeakers, and watched the madness unfold.
If there are any issues to be wary of, I would say to definitely make sure you have enough staff on hand, not only to keep down the instinct of running, but to help keep things fair. Nobody has any fun if people aren’t staying frozen when they know they’ve gotten tagged. Lastly, really emphasize to teens that this game requires stealth, and if done correctly, there really isn’t any need for running. We did have to remind a couple of our participants about this a few times. Nobody wants to end the game early because someone decided to run and tripped over something.
We had such a good time that our library will be re-creating the event this month for our tweens.
Play around with the basic rules we hashed out, or make your own and give it a try! If you do, don’t forget to come back and let us know how it goes! We played just for the fun of it, but if you did choose to have prizes, there are some great ones at ThinkGeek and Hot Topic!
Happy Horror Gaming!
Special thanks to Martha, for being an awesome wing-woman, and sharing her amazing pic!