The last year has felt like a fever dream I might expect to have after spending a night trapped inside a Chuck E. Cheese’s, complete with animatronic monsters and a narrative I could never hope to understand. Where other recent genre success stories like Slender: The Eight Pages have fizzled out after a few months, when it was Five Nights at Freddy’s turn to turn to blow up, series’ creator Scott Cawthon smartly kept that momentum going strong with three more sequels.
Five Nights redefined what it means for a game to go viral, and that unbelievable level of success has left Cawthon with a bounty of riches, adoring fans, critics, and haters.
It’s important to separate those last two things, because I often see them used interchangeably when they’re so very different. Most people, including myself, have a tendency to get hyperbolic with their opinions, and when those opinions are negative, that’s when it gets nasty. It’s important to remember that we can be critical of something without hating on it, just as we can enjoy something without claiming it’s the best thing in the world.
I’m guilty of exaggerating my opinions too, so this isn’t a lecture. I’ve worked to rein it in a bit lately, but I still occasionally fall back on those bad habits. I only bring this up in case it helps you realize you might also have this problem, and so I can tell you about a book I’m working on called One Fist; Two Dicks: I’m Adam Dodd & Here’s Why I’m Better, available as soon as I learn how to summon one of those ghost writers I hear fancy illiterate people use for their books.
I honestly don’t know how Scott Cawthon isn’t a pile of dust on the floor, because that’s what I would look like after being grated against a year’s worth of angry word vomit online. Where I would’ve threatened murder on some unsuspecting 12 year-olds, Cawthon’s response showed considerably more class than many of his critics. Here it is in full.
Hi guys. First of all, I wanted to thank the community in general for the huge outpouring of support through emails and in the forums. I know a lot of you are concerned about me or think that I’m stressed out. It’s true that I’m stressed a little; but it’s ok because the result was good. I’ve worked very hard this year, almost non-stop, to produce good games for this series. Even though there may be some debate as to how “good” the games are, I did my best to provide some good scares and a good story. All I can do is judge from the Steam reviews that I’ve been mostly successful; so I’m very happy about that.
It’s true that there has been a lot of hate toward me lately; on the forums, on youtube, etc. And I’ll be honest, it’s difficult. It’s difficult when people seem to dislike you only because you’ve found success with something. I think some people have this idea that I spend my days swimming in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck, cranking out games with no effort, then laughing all the way to the bank. The reality is quite different, and I think that people who hate on me for being successful are misguided.
Did you know that last year I was working at Dollar General? I worked as a cashier. I had three bosses who were all still in high school. Before that I worked at Target in the backroom freezer, unloading frozen foods. I haven’t had a successful life; and now that God has blessed me with some success, I’m doing my best to be responsible with that success. I don’t party on weekends, I don’t get drunk or sip martinis. I spend my evenings playing Megaman 3, buster only, with my kids. And I try to do good with what’s been given to me.
I guess the reason I’m telling you all of this is to make sure you know that I’m human. I have a lot of flaws, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. My games aren’t perfect, and they never will be. But something more important that I want to convey to all of you, is that you should never listen to people who criticize success simply because it’s success. Being good at something is something to strive for, not something to demonize. Criticisms of my games are fine, and a lot of times the criticism is valid. But there are a lot of people out there who will hate anything that becomes popular, just because it’s popular, and hate anyone who becomes successful, just because they are successful. “Haters gonna hate.” –as they say, but I want you to know that focusing on someone else’s failure or success is the wrong way to live. People who make videos bashing other people are like people who run into a public square and scream into a pillow. They’ll get attention, but they won’t change anything. If you strive to be like them, then you’ll spend your life screaming into a pillow as well, and your life won’t mean anything.
The best emails I get are from people who have chosen to pursue game development because of the games that I’ve made, or people who have decided to do computer science, or learn programming. Who will be the next game designer? Who will make the next game for Markiplier to play? Make sure that it’s you! People who hate success will never be successful. Focus on your success, and your story. People always ask me what college I recommend, or what programs I recommend. My answer is to just go forward, practice. Just GET to college, study hard, be awesome at what you do. Make sure that you are next year’s big success story. Don’t fall into the pit of people who have given up on making something of themselves, and make sure you make EVERYTHING out of yourself.
I’m getting too old for this. And when I retire someday, I’m going to want to sit down at a computer and play YOUR games, read YOUR stories, and watch YOUR videos. Don’t fall in with the people who have already given up on themselves. You are tomorrow’s next big thing. 🙂