Minimum Wage Horror

This new style of gameplay is where menial minimum wage tasks are replaced with only one—survive!


Scott Cawthon, Puppet Combo, Scythe Dev Team, Emil Macko, Germfood, Chilla’s Art

Such a colorful collection of job opportunities. What could possibly go wrong?

Madeline Phelps, Reporter

Minimum wage horror, despite not yet being an official genre of gaming, has grown rapidly over recent years, shifting perception of the locations that we see just about every day into something far more twisted. 

What exactly defines minimum wage horror? Well, games that fit into this growing category generally take place in mundane locations. Restaurants, convenience stores, and offices become places inhabited by the paranormal and grotesque. Innocent employees, security staff, and night guards are thrust into harrowing situations that they never signed up for and must spend their shift defending themselves and coming up with clever ways to survive. 

This basic setup can be found in countless independent horror games but is often shifted to the unique visions of various developers to evolve into that is definitely worth playing. Following is a list of games, both popular and obscure, that have defined this growing genre in their own unique ways. 

Scott Cawthon

Five Nights at Freddy’s is undoubtedly the game that kicked off this genre. Its stunning rise to popularity and exponential growth as a franchise is well deserved as, even after plenty of re-interpretations of the game from other creators, there still is nothing quite like the original series. 

In the original game, you are put in the position of a night guard and tasked with watching over a Chuck E. Cheese style restaurant inhabited by three functioning animatronics and one broken animatronic that rests behind a curtain. 

The job seems scary enough on its own considering just how uncanny the animatronics look, but it gets much worse when they begin to move around. According to your ever helpful voice-recorded guide known as “Phone Guy,” the animatronic characters, upon seeing you, will recognize you as an animatronic  endoskeleton missing its suit and will attempt to stuff you inside of one. He states, “that wouldn’t be so bad if the suits themselves weren’t filled with crossbeams, wires, and animatronic devices, especially around the facial area. So you can imagine how having your head forcefully pressed inside one of those could cause a bit of discomfort… and death…The only parts of you that would likely see the light of day again would be your eyeballs and teeth when they pop out the front of the mask…” 

To avoid this fate, you must use your door system, security cameras, door lights, and power supply strategically. Not staying focused on the movements of the animatronics through the restaurant could mean the difference between life and death. 

What makes the game so enticing overall isn’t just the unique system of mechanics, but the atmosphere as well. The setting of an animatronic restaurant is familiar and nostalgic to many and that, along with the general uneasiness many feel around these singing robots, is exploited significantly within the franchise. The atmosphere and mystery of the game will lure you into an intriguing and tragic story of murder and lies that is revealed with each installment. 

The first game is what began it all, and its many sequels continue to maintain its success.

 Five Nights at Freddy’s 2, Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location, and Five Nights at Freddy’s Pizzeria Simulator all solidify the tradition of working at an animatronic restaurant with shifting styles and changing gameplay mechanics to keep things interesting.

Five Nights at Freddy’s Three deviates a bit from the formula by giving the player the job of working the night shift at a theme park attraction based on the in-universe legends about the Freddy Fazbear franchise. There is even an upcoming game known as Five Nights at Freddy’s Security Breach

This game is planned to take place within a giant complex completely dominated by Fazbear properties. New restaurants and animatronics as well as massive arcades, play centers, stores, a laser tag arena, and a race track are all confirmed to be major aspects of this complex which the player is likely to have to patrol and keep a close eye on as an intense story begins to unfold around them. Security Breach will be the first FNaF game to have an initial release on a major console, this one being the PS5. It is amazing to think that the franchise has grown from such a simple but striking indie game into a massively successful empire of creativity and  innovation. 

Emil Macko

The success of Five Nights at Freddy’s has spawned countless minimum wage horror games, the most numerous of these being the Five Nights at Freddy’s fan games. These games play off of the mechanics of the latter franchise and introduce fan made characters and settings that further the original story in unique ways or even create entirely new worlds to explore. 

The most well-made and successful of these games that fit snugly into the minimum wage horror genre include Five Nights at Candy’s, Popgoes, and Jolly 3. The first two of these games as well as the uniquely stylized One Night at Flumpty’s and the stunning game The Joy of Creation, have been recognized by the original FnAF creator, Scott Cawthon, and are soon to be absorbed into the collaborative Fazbear Fanverse Initiative 

Puppet Combo

Night Shift (Featured in Scary Tales Vol 1) – This PS1 style horror game by the prolific development team, Puppet Combo, is an extreme slow-burn. 

Working the night shift at the gas station is dull. All there is to do is to sweep the floors and wait for customers to pop in for gas or a quick snack. All of this changes when there’s a sudden shift in the night. Something isn’t right, but you have no choice except to finish up your shift and to wait to see what’s in store. The slowly developing tension of this game leads to an ending that is sure to shake you to your core.


Night of the Consumers – This horror game developed by Germfood is unique from the rest in that it bases its horror not on the paranormal, but on the grotesque reality of working in retail. 

You, the player, are a new employee at a local grocery store. Your manager is fiery and impatient and wants you to become a model employee. You have your chance to prove yourself during your first shift, but it isn’t going to be as easy as it seems. Your basic task is simply to find boxes of inventory, take them to their proper aisles, and restock shelves. What shifts this unassuming grocery store into a burning hellscape is not the work, but the customers. 

When a customer finds you, they will announce their presence with an obnoxious but realistic, “EXCUSE ME.” They will demand that you take them to whatever aisle it is that they need to reach in order to find what they are looking for. Lead the customer to three wrong aisles and they will call for your manager. The same thing is true if you take too long. Having your manager called on you is essentially a death sentence. If all of that wasn’t enough to take care of, there is one more major obstacle that you must face: The baby. 

Occasionally, a shopping mother will lose her baby. It’s your job to find the freaky screaming thing and return it quickly. Fail and you will die. What elevates this game as far as horror elements go is the tension. Everything needs to be done quickly and the customers that you deal with are consistently impatient and annoying. You can throw boxes at them for a brief moment of safety or even hide in the back rooms, but I wouldn’t recommend doing the latter for too long. You might just find some disturbing secrets back there…

The unique and often grotesque visual style of the game compliments its overall atmosphere and the catchy supermarket music matches with the pace you need to keep up in order to survive. Overall, everything about the game blends together seamlessly. It may not be a traditional horror game, but for anyone who has ever worked in retail, it paints a reality that is all too uncomfortably familiar. 

Chilla’s Art

The Convenience Store – The Convenience Store is a Japanese minimum wage horror game developed by Chilla’s Art. Everything you need to know about your job is in the title. Stocking shelves, cleaning the store, talking to customers, and checking security cameras is about all the night shift consists of until things begin to take a strange turn. 

Each morning after work, a new VHS tape appears at your apartment. The footage is mysterious and unsettling, depicting various locations just outside of the store where you work. What do they mean and what might they reveal about the secrets shrouding the seemingly unassuming place you work at each night? 

The classic VHS-style of the game combined with its often unnervingly hyper realistic settings and characters create an atmosphere of familiarity and uncertainty that brilliantly compliments the story. 

Scythe Dev Team

Happy’s Humble Burger Barn – This game may very well be the strangest of the minimum wage horror genre. Once again, your job is very simple. You work at a fast food restaurant serving up burgers, fries, salmon nuggets, sodas, and shakes to a steady stream of…less than expressive customers. Everything seems fairly normal at the place. It’s a bit desolate and any night shift can be unsettling in its loneliness. Thankfully, you have some fantastic music (courtesy of Jon of the Shred) to keep you company. Even better is the mascot of the restaurant who just so happens to be immortalized in various statues and figurines throughout the restaurant. 

Happy the Humble Heifer is an adorable mooing companion to have around until one of her largest statues moves a considerable distance on its own. Something isn’t right at the restaurant. Is it paranormal or are you beginning to lose your mind? 

The weirdness progresses until you are on the receiving end of a horrible and shocking epiphany. I recommend playing the game to find out what’s really going on in Happy’s Humble world. The developers of the game, Scythe Dev Team, have even come out with a sequel known as Happy’s Humble Burger Farm that is playable in alpha. 

These games will not only have you rethinking the fast food industry, but so, so much more. 

Scythe Dev Team

Minimum wage horror is a fascinating emerging genre that takes the familiar and transforms it into something fantastic, engaging, and, above all, terrifying. Experiencing one of these games before heading into your daily shift will certainly leave you motivated to keep an eye out for the unexpected.