While Matthew “MatPat” Patrick’s YouTube series Game Theory isn’t specifically dedicated to Five Nights at Freddy’s, with nearly 50 videos focused on the popular horror game franchise it’s become a huge part of the FNAF community over the years. Yesterday, in a very special episode of Game Theory, MatPat finally addressed Five Nights creator Scott Cawthon’s retirement amidst controversy over questionable political donations.
Between Game Theory videos and partner shows on The Game Theorists YouTube channel, yesterday’s “We Need To Talk About FNAF” episode marks the 50th time MatPat has taken to video to discuss Five Nights At Freddy’s. But this video isn’t about the many mysteries and fan theories surrounding the beloved series, but rather the issues surrounding Scott Cawthon’s recently-announced retirement. Last month it came to light that since 2016 Cawthon had donated tens of thousands of dollars to political campaigns, mostly Rebublican candidates, including a late 2019 donation to former president Donald Trump. One of the main issues with these donations is that many of the candidates receiving Cawthon’s cash were those with strong anti-LGBTQIA+ views. As Five Nights at Freddy’s fandom has long been considered a haven for LGBTQIA+ gamers, news that Cawthon was supporting candidates interested in repressing or erasing a large portion of his fan base hit very hard.
So what does a YouTube channel that’s long supported and been supported by that very fandom have to say about Cawthon’s controversial departure? In his latest video, MatPat says that while he understands the outrage, Five Nights at Freddy’s has grown to the point where it’s about much more than Scott Cawthon. Yes, seven years ago Cawthon released the original Five Nights at Freddy’s, which quickly became a cult hit and changed the face of horror video games for years to come. But now there are so many other people working on the series. There are developers working on new games, novelists churning out books, toy companies pumping out action figures and playsets, and even a live action movie that’s still in the works. On top of all of that there’s the fandom, which has taken on a life of its own over the years. Is it worth jeopardizing all of that just because of Scott Cawthon’s political views?
Note that MatPat isn’t saying no, implicitly. He’s saying that in his particular case, he chooses to continue to support the work and fans. He’s very clear in the video that this is a decision that each individual will have to make for themselves. He compares the situation to Harry Potter, and how each fan of the book series and its spinoff media has to decide if the fantasy world is somewhere they want to continue to explore given that creator J.K. Rowling is a massive transphobe.
“Life just isn’t a game of absolutes,” MatPat says as he winds up the episode. “It’s all about trying to do the greatest good with the hand that you’ve been dealt. And the good that has spawned out of Freddy and his friends for creators, for fans, for gaming as a whole—it’s incalculable.”