FNAF became a sensation, partly from YouTube let's players recording their reactions, but also from the simple fact that a garage programmer succeeded in making a genuinely scary game, something most AAA developers with tens of millions of dollars of development budget could not do. Three sequels followed, with a fourth coming soon, as well as a goofy RPG and a book. A movie set in the continuity of the games is in development, and Cawthon has licensed the originals to be ported onto other game consoles. I admire Cawthon, not only for what he accomplished, but for his humility. He has not let his success go to his head, and has given back very generously. He's just an amazing guy.
Through it all, people wondered about the inspiration for the game. Was this based on anything real? After all, there are a lot of strange things that happen in the world. One need look no further than Domino's Pizza -- in 1986, they began an ad campaign featuring "The Noid," a villain who sought to steal pizzas. A mentally ill man named Kenneth Lamar Noid thought the ads were made to make fun of him, and on January 30, 1989, he snapped. He went to a Domino's Pizza in Atlanta and took two employees hostage. After forcing them to make a pizza for him, he demanded $100,000, a getaway car, and a copy of The Widow's Son. He eventually surrendered to police, and was found not guilty by reason of insanity (ya think?). Domino's quietly discontinued the Noid campaign after that.
Well, here we are in Long Branch, New Jersey, home of a family pizzeriea called Freddie's Restaurant And Pizzeria. For some unknown reason, FNAF fans have zeroed in on the place and have been calling to ask if it was the inspiration for the games. Edna Moore, a waitress who has worked there for 34 years, said, "I've never seen anything like this. You can get 200 calls in an hour. It's very annoying. You try to do your job, and you keep picking up the phone." Regular customers are having trouble getting through, and the place has added extra phone lines and staff to handle all the calls.
Cawthon himself denies Freddie's is the inspiration for FNAF, and has asked fans to not bother the place. He says that none of the locations are real, and the games are not based on any actual place.
And this is where another of those strange coincidences happens. The YouTube show The Game Theorists is stocked with FNAF fans, and they made a shocking discovery. Cawthon, it should be noted, denies that this incident had anything to do with his games. But if so, that makes the coincidence even creepier, especially when it comes to the date.
The whole thing took place in Aurora, Colorado on December 13, 1993. A Chuck E. Cheese restaurant had just finished a kid's birthday party, and the staff was staying late cleaning the place up. At about 900PM, Nathan Dunlap entered the restaurant, secretly armed with a .25 caliber semiauto. Dunlap was 19 years old and had been fired from the place five months earlier. He ordered a ham and cheese sandwich and played an arcade game. At 950PM, he went into one of the bathrooms and hid out, waiting for the place to close. At 1005PM, he came out of the bathroom. Sylvia Crowell, 19, was cleaning the salad bar when Dunlap came up behind her and shot her in the right ear. Next was Colleen O'Connor, 17, who fell to her knees and begged him not to shoot her, but he did, single shot to the top of the head. Next was Bobby Stephens, 20, who had been outside smoking and came back in, thinking the popping sound was just balloons being popped (gunshots do not sound like in the movies, most people who have never heard a real gunshot don't realize what it is when they hear it). He went in the kitchen and was loading the dishwasher when Dunlap entered and fired a shot. Stephens was struck in the jaw. Stephens did the only thing he could think to do -- he played dead in hopes Dunlap would move on. He was right. Dunlap killed another person in a room off the main hallway as he made for the manager's office, where Marge Kohlberg, 50, was tallying up receipts from the night before. Dunlap forced her to unlock the safe, then shot her in the ear. He grabbed about $1,500 in cash from the safe, and when he saw Kohlberg was still moving, he fired another shot into her opposite ear to finish her off (it should be noted that the manager who fired Dunlap was not at the restaurant). Police arrived on the scene and found the four dead bodies and the still-alive Stephens. Dunlap was arrested about 12 hours later at his mother's apartment. At the trial, Stephens was the key witness and Dunlap got the death penalty. Hasn't been carried out yet, but that's a story for another day. The restaurant is closed up and doesn't exist anymore.
Now, like I said, Cawthon has denied that this had anything to do with the inspiration for FNAF. But there's a lot of creepy coincidences that extend beyond the "murders in a family pizzeria" that underpin the whole thing. There are four animatronics in the game, and their paths and locations correspond roughly with where the four bodies were found. There's also the fifth, Golden Freddy, who can't be stopped, a possible allusion to Stephens. But here's the one that is almost impossible to dismiss -- it is possible to determine when the first game takes place, thanks to the paycheck the player gets at the end of the game.
As you can see, the year is blurred out, the month and day are visible, 11-12. Paychecks are issued on Fridays, and not only is 11-12 a Friday during the year 1993, but how much the check is for is perfectly in line with what the minimum wage was in 1993.
So. Is Cawthon bluffing? Was the 1993 Aurora shooting actually the inspiration for FNAF? Or is it just some wild coincidence? While coincidences do happen, the date on the check makes it very very hard to believe.
Bottom line -- no matter what, this little place in Joisee has nothing to do with it. So leave them alone, will ya?