Scott Cawthon-Christian Developer Spotlight –

I recently had the privilege of corresponding with Christian indie game developer Scott Cawthon. He’s garnished attention for his recent horror game Five Nights at Freddy’s and the recently announced Five Nights at Freddy’s 2, but as you’ll see from the interview below, Scott has been involved with far more. Even more important than his game development experience, Scott has shared with us his faith, his struggles, and how God has worked in his life.

In Relation To faith and being a game developer:

GUG: Is game development your day job or a passion you pursue on the side? How long have you been developing games?

SC: My mom bought me a program called Klik & Play when I was 13 and I’ve been making games ever since. During my adult life I’ve worked at a variety of places but game design was always my passion.

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Five Nights At Freddy’s

 

GUG: What sort of struggles do you face as an independent game developer? 

SC: I would recommend a career in game design to anyone BUT I would advise getting a degree and getting a job at an actual game company. Having a solid job and gaining work experience is much more stable than trying to make it as an independent developer.

GUG: How has God helped you through those?

SC: My relationship with God through the years has been absolutely essential, and only now can I look back and see what He has done. For about twelve years I dedicated my free time to creating Christian movies and later Christian video games. It didn’t go well, but I had faith that God wanted me to create those things anyway.

Despite good reviews, my Christian projects were all financial failures. I came to a point where I was very disillusioned and frustrated with God…actually it was more like a broken heart. I felt like I’d squandered so many years of my life, years that could have been spent going back to college but were instead spent working on Christian projects that went nowhere. I came to the conclusion that I could not have failed so miserably unless God himself had been holding me down. Either God didn’t exist, or God hated me. I didn’t know which was worse.

I decided to change careers, at times pursuing web design, then computer programming, even truck driving, but I always felt drawn back to games.

A pivotal moment came for me when my life insurance policy was cancelled. The insurance company had caught wind that I’d mentioned suicidal thoughts to my doctor. It was at that point I realized that not only did my life have no value but now even my death had no value. I went before God again, and it was the first time that I truly went before him with nothing. I had nothing to offer him. I told him to use me somehow. Although at that moment I had no idea what he could possibly use me for.

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The Pilgrim’s Progress

I felt drawn back to games again, but not Christian games anymore. It’s not that I wanted to leave the Christian market, I just didn’t feel “led” to make another Christian game. Instead, the events of my life led me to a great idea for a horror game- Five Nights at Freddy’s.

I don’t regret a single moment that I spent working on those Christian projects. I feel like God had commissioned me to make them, and I had an absolute duty to make them, even at the cost of my job and a comfortable life (which it cost me).

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.

I guess the point of all of that would be this: Don’t strive for success and money. Doing that just means God is going to have to work even harder to break you. Focus on Him and do what’s right. If you get your heart right and live an honest life, God will grant you success, though it will come in different forms and in different ways. If you humble yourself before Him, He will take care of you. Don’t be like me and force Him to spend twenty years trying to get your heart right first.

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The Desolate Hope

GUG: How does your faith affect your approach to game development?

SC: At first I took a very strict approach, thinking that being a Christian gamemaker means you have to make only Christian games. I think God granted me some wisdom in realizing that it’s not your work but you yourself that makes the difference. That being said though, you have to still make sure your work doesn’t go against His purpose. There are a lot of games out there that are full of hate and gruesome imagery. If you feel drawn to make or play that sort of thing then you need to spend some time getting your heart right with God.

GUG: How has your faith helped you, whether directly developing a game or regarding post-development?

SC: It has given me a sense of purpose. Without that I would have given up years ago. If money is what drives you then you’ll most likely fail, and even if you succeed it will be for nothing.

GUG: Do you do everything for your games solo, art and sound design included?

SC: Yes I work alone, although I purchase rights to music and sounds from 3rd party companies.

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The Desolate Hope

GUG: Your most recent game, Five Nights at Freddy’s, has garnished quite a bit of attention but it’s not your only game. What would you say to folks regarding your other work?

SC: I’d say go check out the other games on my site too. The Pilgrim’s Progress is a classic Christian novel that not many people know about anymore. I tried to keep the game as faithful to it as I could.

The Desolate Hope has only recently been getting more attention because of the popularity of Five Nights at Freddy’s, but has come under fire for having a pro-life message. The game itself was not designed with abortion specifically in mind (the word is never mentioned.) However, the game’s story focuses on the protagonist’s quest to save a human fetus that was intended as a scientific specimen. The game places a very high value on human life, even at it’s smallest, and that draws a lot of anger from some people.

GUG: What is your favorite bible verse?

SC: Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

 

 

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Five Nights At Freddy’s

In relation to Five Nights at Freddy’s

GUG: What inspired you to create a horror-themed game?

SC: I had made a family friendly game about a beaver before this but it was criticized online; people said the main character looked like a scary animatronic. I went into a pretty deep depression and was ready to give up game-making. Then something in me snapped and I thought to myself that I bet I could make something a lot scarier than that!

GUG: Were you scared of animatronic animals as a child? What was your inspiration for making Five Nights at Freddy’s?

SC: My inspiration for the game was the fact that EVERY kid was scared of those things! There were a few brave ones, sure, but nearly everyone my age looks back and realizes that those things were terrifying.

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Five Nights At Freddy’s

GUG: How did your Christianity translate into Five Nights At Freddy’s? Are there any hidden Christian messages? For example, do the animals represent a vice or struggle?

SC: No, Five Nights at Freddy’s is just a simple horror game, although I did try to keep it relatively clean with no blood or guts.

GUG: What’s the story behind Golden Freddy?

SC: Sometimes things just “happen” during the game making process. I can’t explain Golden Freddy.

 

I want to once again personally thank Scott for taking the time and effort to thoughtfully and openly share so much with us regarding game development and, more importantly, his faith, struggle, and relationship with God.

If you want to check out Scott Cawthon and his work, be sure to visit the links below:

Scott Games

Five Nights at Freddy’s

The Desolate Hope

The Pilgrim’s Progress

Joe Morgan

Gamer, software developer, dog lover. When he's not writing for GeeksUnderGrace or CrossConsoleGamers, you can find him streaming at Twitch.tv/JoeKnowethGames

31 Comments

  1. samantha l schultz on July 24, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    o ya who did the bit of 87 i really want to know but i think foxy did it plz tell me if im right or wrong and tell me who did it bye

  2. samantha l schultz on July 24, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    hi im Sam i was wondering if your going to make a 5th game of five nights at freedys cause i love your game fnaf and i have the first ,second and,third game bye.

  3. Julian the 10 year old gamer on July 7, 2015 at 3:27 am

    Hey scott uno the bite of 87 who coursed it do a tester about it plz

  4. Thalia Williamson on June 3, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    I love Scott Cawthon , his new game Five nights at freddys came out and he is now making the 4th game. Im so exited to play it , its coming out on halloween day october 30th. Scott Cawthon please continue making these awesome FNAF games. I understand if you cant but try your best to make us happy. Your still famous!!! By the way, my favorite character in Five nights at freddys is……DRUMROLL PLEASE…. CHICA , i love chica because she is pretty scary and she is also adorable. I love how you made Nightmare chica…. She is scary also.I have played all of your FNAF games but, im still waiting for Fnaf 4.i also like all your other games!!! I feel sorry for you about that bad dream you had about bonnie. I should stop. I really like that game chiper and sons lumber co. its really awesome. People say that you got the idea of animatronics in fnaf from that game. Good luck!H.A.G.S

  5. josh on March 23, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    im sure u get alot of these and probably wont even read this but if out of the 100 and 1 chance you do ill like to ask u a few things so my report isnt to blame also getting to talk to said person would be great for my report and probably get me an A thanks if u do read this and message back if u get this

  6. Dante on March 20, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    A couple comments: The fact that the anti-abortion message in Desolate Hope made people “angry” speaks to just how stunted and convoluted Satan has made our world to be. Hello! I’m 15, and even I know abortion is just murder covered in sprinkles and shoved at mothers who think God doesn’t care. Also, for everyone who’s saying Scott’s creation of FNaF goes against his faith, these games actually taught me huge lessons in conquering fears. Golden Freddy always terrified me to the point of sleepless nights; however, trying to tackle this fear and put it out of my mind brought me closer to God than I’ve ever been. Keep it up Scotty!

  7. avery taylor on March 5, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    i love scott he is the best if anyone did not know he released fnaf3 on steam.

  8. Alfred on February 17, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Scott is there custom mode on fnaf3????

  9. person on January 7, 2015 at 3:49 am

    I’m so glad Scott made five night’s at freddy’s because it gave me a chance to learn more about his other games! I love fnaf but his other games are great! as well as this really did inspire me…I’m actually 13 and quite into making games and I’ve been animating for about a year now and still that love of game making is really beginning to express itself…

    so thank you Scott for being an inspiration to me..

  10. Patrick on December 21, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    First awesome review and I hope Scott does one for Fnaf 2! Being a christian myself i was quite iffy about Fnaf ‘s release and figuring out that he was christian shocked me even more. I know some christian people that spaz over things like this but im ok with it. The man still believes in God and if God didnt want this he would not have led him to this part of his life. I think Scott should be proud of his succesful career and we should support him in his journey of the Fnaf series and future games.

  11. mike mertz on December 19, 2014 at 5:27 am

    This is all new territory for me. I read this trying to find out about the Freddy game because it is currently scaring my 11 year old son to the point where he won’t go upstairs by himself. He hasn’t even played the game, he’s just seen a few stills from it on google images and hears his pals talk about it all the time at school but the story has gotten under his skin and he’s very freaked out by it.

    I don’t know what other parents do but in my opinion no 11 year old should be playing this game. Nevertheless, some are going to play and they’re going to talk about it and it’s going to become part of the 5th grade culture, which is what’s happened here.

    I have to question why a professed Christian, someone who defines himself in great part in terms of his faith in and love for Jesus Christ , would put such a negative, scary, game out there. What does Christ’s message have to do with murdering children? Or with scaring them? Isn’t there enough of this going on in real life? I deplore games like this. They may be creative and they make take talent to design and realize but they have terribly negative social effects. Not just scaring kids but adding to the endless numbing of young people’s attitudes towards violence, which ends up leading to actual violence in the REAL world.

    I know there’s a market for this stuff but that doesn’t make it right. Jesus’s message was about love and forgiveness and understanding. To create a game like this and contribute to the climate of fear and dread that is already too much a part of all of our lives today is really a disservice to children, parents and society itself. No doubt it is profitable but at what COST?

    Don’t mean to offend anyone but I am offended by the fact that games like this have become an accepted part of our culture. I certainly can’t stop it because money talks loudest but I can at least stand up and deplore it. And make sure my kids don’t play it. Unfortunately, I can’t control what their friends do and how that filters down to them. It’s very sad to me. What kind of a society are we when terror has become entertainment? Tough to be a parent these days, as I’m sure Mr. Cawthorn knows. It’s even more surprising to me that he would develop such a game considering that he has children of his own.

    All for now. Thanks for listening, mike m

    • Martin on December 21, 2014 at 6:57 am

      Well he did say he wanted to keep the game as simple as possible and not make it go against God’s purpose, i don’t know about the whole thing about the game being super scary, but for me it is challenging.I think this game is not meant for children his age but for people who like to get themselves thrilled and scared or review scary games like fnaf.(sorry if I have offended anyone)

    • Glad Gary on February 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      Yes there is a market for horror games(blood and guts also) but if you think about it this game could end up introducing someone to Scott’s other games(His Christian games in this case) and leading a lost person to Christ.

  12. Ethan on November 29, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Hello, Scott ! May I please ask what church of Christianity you believe in ? Sorry to nag, but may I please ask where you grew up ?

  13. Ruby on November 28, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Christian…. Fnaf?! I don’t want to are you meant that I just have to say: brother, God does want to use you in miraculous ways, but not through horror. Demonic possession is typical through fear, remember: we believe in a God of love, not fear. A God of light, not darkness, and yes, Jesus Christ does love you, haven’t you ever read John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son so that all those who believe in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”? Or how about my favorite verse, 1John 2:12 – “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven through His name’s sake.” Brother, horror games are not the way to go. I’ll be praying for you, God bless you.

    • Drew Koehler on November 28, 2014 at 9:13 pm

      I think you can choose to give something power over you if you choose to. God has not given us a spirit of fear. Do you think that somehow fear is able to overtake God? I doubt it. Do you not drink Monster energy drinks too?

    • Chad on December 4, 2014 at 3:26 am

      Dude, just because we are Christian doesn’t mean every video game that doesn’t mention God is evil. Mario Bros. isn’t evil. This is a great way to go. Not only does this bring up his previous Christian work, but it also allows sources and articles, such as this, to help share how God has worked in his life and this game is empowering him to greater bolder things for God. Directly linked with God or not he is working vigorously in Scott’s life.

    • Graham on December 12, 2014 at 12:24 am

      I am more scared of the Old Testament than I am of Five Nights at Freddie’s… Just saying… From your statement I would propose the question to you. If you are a father would you rather let your child play this game or read from the Old Testament every night for their bed time stories. Games are games. They are just a way to temporarily escape from the reality you are currently in. He may in fact have done God’s work with his game for the abused teenager that enjoyed the game and was able to escape the reality that his parents are alcoholics and beat him. Fact of the matter is that we don’t know and him as a christian and a developer can only hope and have faith that it did help someone in someway. After all isn’t that what being a Christian is all about when you get down to it. Hope and Faith.

      P.S. Sorry for the late post. Usually don’t post on articles that are over 10 Days old, but I couldn’t resist that one.

    • Taylor on February 20, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      It’s just a horror game, it’s not like it’s gonna murder anyone or anything. Plus, it’s fictional, it’s not real. Scott, keep doing what you’re doing, it will not go against your beliefs. 🙂

    • Pacheco on March 10, 2015 at 7:07 am

      God has his plans.. thanks to that Horror game.. people will notice the developer.. people will search their other games and realize about his faith and the good message on their games (desolate hope one of them).

      Also people will end up on this article because people want answers about the game.. the story is intriguing.. i saw a couple of videos about theories.. and being on this website they will get to know about our faith..

      Also im a software developer.. i work on my church running all their Software stuff and page.. and they are willing to push my projetcs.. one of them.. making a Christian videogame.. and the experience of the devoloper written on this article helped me..

      im from Mexico.. excuse my english

  14. Yarp on November 22, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Just as a warning this article was linked in reddit so be prepared for a flood of smug anti-theists.

  15. Jamal on November 20, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Sarah, it’s God with a capital G, sorry to be pedantic but it’s a grammatical thing.
    I think if you believed that the creator of the entire universe took an interest in your daily dose of life, you’d be talking about them quite frequently. Not to mention the interlinking of God and technology is apparently the aim of this website.
    Thanks doc.

    • JZawork on December 12, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      On top of that Jamal, with your point, if you believed that the creator of the entire universe took an interest in your daily life, AND that He can spare you, and everyone else from eternal death, you’d DEFINITELY want to talk about it frequently. Some people have the wrong intentions but the true heart behind preaching isn’t “convincing” you. It’s wanting you to experience the love and forgiveness we have, and as we are all sinners, we don’t want to see other people going to hell, we want to see them experiencing eternal joy and life with the creator of the universe, and falling in love with the One who made, loves and saves us.

  16. Sarah on November 17, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Or maybe his success is just from making an actually good game that’s not trying to preach to people. I was honestly shocked when I found out Scott is Christian. It’s not that Christians can’t be talented, it’s just you guys squander it with trying to force-feed people your religion. It’s okay to not talk about god for five minutes. I think you guys should liven up like Scott, make fun things, enjoy yourselves a bit more. At the very least, if you want your work to have a religious message, make it at least a little subtle so people don’t feel like they’re being preached to.

    • Earl on March 1, 2015 at 3:07 am

      Christian here, I agree 100%.

      Love and Life > Rules and Slavery

  17. daniel on November 12, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    I wish your christian games did better. We need some GOOD christian games.

  18. Derek on November 5, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Such a great interview. It’s great to hear from Scott about his journey. I think a lot of people will be able to relate (myself included). I am happy to be able to read this and it helps me feel like I am not alone as well with some of my struggles. Scott, let’s always remember: don’t ever get your value from this world or money like you said. Your value comes from the loving Creator, who values you tremendously. Ever hair on your head is numbered and you are worth more than many sparrows. The Lord is caring and compassionate. Exodus 34:6-7 . Thanks to Scott for being so open to really share with all of us and for Geeks Under Grace for doing the interview. I’m very happy to have read it. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” — Jesus

  19. Bryce on October 30, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    I would rather you ask more questions about the game itself, rather than many strictly religion-based questions. Though I guess is reasonable, based on the site and it’s goals.

  20. Emily on October 28, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Fantastic interview! I have to check out his other games now.

  21. Michael M. on October 26, 2014 at 3:35 am

    Hey Scott, great interview. Thanks for taking the time, and writing what you did. I honestly just saw a “Game Theory” video about this game, and I thought about how different it was to other horror games. Thanks for being true to who God made you to be, and trusting in His will for your life.

    Know that He made you with gifts, skills and ideas that are yours alone. Keep making works that glorify His name, be lead by Holy Spirit in your work.

    And Joe, thanks for doing the interview.

  22. Casey Covel on October 25, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    I wish I could press the “like” button 100+ times on this interview. This is easily one of the most powerful and eye-opening interviews I’ve ever read. Scott, God bless you for coming out and sharing your testimony with us. I found what you said about your personal approach to game development especially empowering, “…it’s not your work but you yourself that makes the difference. That being said though, you have to still make sure your work doesn’t go against His purpose.”

    I wish you the best with your future gaming endeavors. Thank you for blessing Geeks Under Grace with your words.

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