R.D. Ovenfriend’s “Gamer” is a creepypasta not in the classic sense — that is, something which has been copied and pasted time and time again, with little to no information available about its original author — but in the modern one: It’s a piece of horror fiction originally published on the internet. In this case, it hails from the NoSleep subreddit, where it (rightfully, I think) won the title of Best Monthly Winner of 2014.
What makes it so successful is its grounding in reality: In essence, it’s a story about the Milgram experiments. You’re probably already familiar with Stanley Milgram’s study about the extremes people will go to when they’re “just following orders”; conducted in 1961 and published in 1963, it basically explained the rise of fascism and World War II, showing that people are capable of evilness — even if they don’t think they’re being evil. All it takes is an authority figure to coax people to do terrible things. In recent decades, we’ve begun questioning the results somewhat; however, a group of scientists in Poland also published research this year that replicated the results of the Milgram experiments… so maybe Milgram wasn’t so far off the mark, even if his experiments were ethically dubious.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
If you prefer your creepypasta narrated, here’s a good one.
And as a parting thought: How far do you think you would go in this situation? Because no matter how quickly you like to think you’d stop… I’m willing to bet you’d go a lot further than that.
You know that little boys aren’t supposed to go into strange rooms with men they just met, right? When I was ten, I knew this too, but I was a huge video game nerd. In the 1980’s, if you wanted to play video games, you had to go to the arcade in the mall.
The arcade had a wide array of video games in the lobby area. But the best games were hidden in a secret room at the back of the store. I had heard about it from other boys at school. They said that if you spent a lot of time (and quarters) playing video games on the main floor, the owner, Stanley, would take you into the backroom where the secret games were kept.
The guys said that Stanley got access to the arcade games months before they came out. It was also rumored that there were some games in the backroom that were too risqué for the main floor. Weird underground video games from Japan that involved sex and gore.
I had been coming to the arcade with my friends for over a month, but Stanley never showed any interest in me until I came by myself one day.
You have to understand that this was a safe, quaint college town in the 1980s. Things were different. Moms would drop their kids off at the mall, armed only with stern warnings about talking to strangers — and leave them there for hours. Everyone did this. It wasn’t neglectful.
I was playing Street Fighter when Stanley approached me. “You’ve spent a lot of time at that game.” I was a little shocked that he was right here. I had seen him around the store, but never this close. It was like seeing a celebrity in person for the first time. “Ya. I’ve almost gotten a high score three times.” He asked, “Do you want to play some other games in the back?”
And that was it.
[Photo via Sumeet Jain/Flickr]