Some computer games have a cult status among fans of all ages. They may not have the best graphics or most sophisticated gameplay, but fans just can’t get enough. One such game is Five Nights at Freddy’s. If you have ever played this game (or even just seen the 2023 film of the same name), you have encountered the sinister William Afton in some form or other. But the big question fans ask is whether he is based on a real person. The internet just can’t seem to decide!
What is Five Nights at Freddy’s?
Five Nights at Freddy’s is a simple ‘point and click’ game, a simplicity that makes it popular with players of all ages. Created in 2014 by Scott Cawthon, it is loved by the indie horror games scene. The game is set in a family-friendly pizzeria called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. It is a normal unassuming restaurant during the day, but during the night it is a different story. The animatronics used to entertain the younger customers during the day turn into bloody-lusting villains once the clock strikes midnight.
To play the game, you take control of the character Mike Schmidt. He is the pizzeria’s night security guard, who is employed with the task of looking after the premises. Unfortunately, the animatronics take on a life of their own when nighttime descends and they are after one thing. And that is Mike’s blood!
To evade these electronic monsters, you can use the cameras in the office to observe the restaurant. From this haven, you can control the lights in the office’s corridor. If you see something heading your way, you can close the steel doors and keep them out. Sadly, this all requires energy and this isn’t neverending. Once you have depleted your energy stores, the lights go out and the door remains permanently open. The only way to win at this point is for the night shift to end. Otherwise, you are at the mercy of these blood-hungry robots.
Watch part 1 of Nights at Freddy’s playthrough:
William Afton is one of the game’s main antagonists and you spend most of your time trying to defeat him and his creations. According to the FNaF lore, he founded Fazbear Entertainment with Henry Emily, and they opened their first restaurant, Fredbear’s Family Diner. Afron was a robotic engineer who was responsible for designing the restaurant’s children’s entertainment, various animatronics. Afton made a large yellow rabbit costume known as Spring Bonnie, which he would wear to entertain the younger guests.
One day in 1985, William used his Spring Bonnie disguise to lure five unsuspecting and ill-fated children into the backroom. Once he had them here, he savagely murdered them. To avoid being caught, Afton hid their bodies inside the restaurant’s animatronics. These vengeful souls begin to inhabit their new bodies and ultimately try to seek revenge on Afton.
When they were finally freed, they chased Afron into the same backroom where he had carried out their brutal murderers. In an attempt to hide from their wrath, Afton put on his Spring Bonnie outfit thinking he could fool them. A number of years had lapsed, aging the suit. There was also a slow drip from the ceiling, which also caused significant damage. Unbeknownst to Afton, he puts on the suit without realizing the mechanism inside was irrevocably broken. The suit impaled his body in multiple places, and he fell to the floor where he bled to death.
Afton is now part inseparable from his suit, with his face still the same. He is now known as Springtrap. The game lore tells of multiple times that he has been thwarted only for him to use his skills to reinvent himself as a new creation. These include Purple Guy, Scraptrap, and Dave Miller. His motto is ‘I will always be back’ which pretty much tells you all you need to know.
Wouldn’t we all like to know?! This is something that fans of Five Nights at Freddy’s just can’t agree on. The internet is littered with articles arguing that Afton’s character was based on a real-life serial killer and his dark story is one of truth. Other people argue that the sadistic character is one of pure fantasy, arguing that his dark story was created solely to make the game one of the creepiest (and this definitely succeeds!)
If you type his name into Google, you will see several photos coming to be of the real-life William Afton. Many fans believe (and vehemently argue) that Afton’s storyline is based on a real-life serial killer. Although there is little evidence to support this, there is also little evidence to disprove this. This gray area and uncertainty make the game a whole lot scarier and even give it a cult-like status among horror gaming fans.
It’s safe to say that William Afton is purely a fictional character, created by Scott Cawthon to make sure his game had a sinister edge. Since 2014, the game has spawned rich (and often wild) fan fiction and backstories. Some are based on facts drip-fed through the game, and others are pure bizarre fantasy.
We will probably never know for certain if William Afton is real or not, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! The ambiguity around the ‘Is he real or not?’ debate helps give the game its pull amongst fans.