Updated: Nov 12
You might have noticed the recent surge in articles discussing the Huggy Wuggy character from the horror game Poppy Playtime. This blue character with red lips and sharp teeth is often associated with warnings about the negative impact it can have on children, much like the Momo Challenge.
However, there is no concrete evidence linking the character to the game itself. Instead, misinformation about the game's content and the potential harm it may cause children has been spread by head teachers and the police.
The hysteria is largely centered around content featuring the game's characters in unsettling situations, created and shared on platforms like TikTok and YouTube. One of these videos even featured a song called "Free Hugs," with lyrics that read, "Cause I could just hug you here. Forever, forever. Till you breathe your last breath."
If you're a concerned parent or guardian, it's essential to take the time to understand the game before hastily deleting it from your child's device. Use this as an opportunity to talk to your child about the content and make an informed decision about it together.
A little history about Poppy's Playtime
Poppy Playtime is an indie horror game developed by a Canadian game developer named "Dustin MacMullin". The game was released on Steam on May 21, 2021. It is a first-person puzzle game that takes place in a toy factory where the player is tasked with investigating the mysterious disappearance of the factory's employees.
The game's story revolves around the Poppy Playtime toy company, which has recently gone out of business. The player takes on the role of a new employee hired to clear out the factory's remaining inventory. However, as the player progresses through the factory, they discover that some of the toys have come to life and are now hostile towards the player.
One of the most notable antagonists in the game is Huggy Wuggy, a large teddy bear-like monster that is known for its ability to hug people to death. Huggy Wuggy has become one of the most popular characters in the game, inspiring fan art and fan content, including the controversial Huggy Wuggy song by Igor Gordiyenko, aka TryHardNinja.
Despite its short length, Poppy Playtime has received positive reviews for its unique gameplay mechanics, unsettling atmosphere, and clever storytelling. The game has also gained a significant following on social media platforms, with many fans eagerly awaiting news of a sequel or expansion to the original game.
Target Audience of Poppy Playtime?
During an interview with Forbes, Zach Belanger, the President and CEO of Enchanted Mob who developed Poppy Playtime, emphasized that the game was not created with any specific demographic in mind. Instead, the studio's primary focus was to create a game that they would enjoy playing themselves, while ensuring that it was entertaining for audiences of all ages.
When asked about the recent warnings issued by schools regarding the Huggy Wuggy character in the game, Belanger dismissed them as largely unfounded. He noted that much of the controversy surrounding the character's alleged whispering of creepy messages was based on fan-made content, which had no basis in reality. Belanger expressed gratitude for the dedication and hard work of the game's fans, but he did not consider their videos a cause for concern.
Age Rating for Poppy Playtime
The Poppy Playtime game is designed to be a thrilling and unsettling experience, and has been given ratings of 13+ by ESRB and 12+ by PEGI. These ratings include descriptors for violence and horror, such as blood and moderate violence.
The VSC Rating Board also notes that the game features a constant sense of threat and dread as players explore an abandoned factory. In one intense sequence, the player is pursued by a monster through dark air vents, and in another, a heavy box falls on a fantasy character, causing blood to appear on pipes.
It's important for parents to understand the source of potentially upsetting content, so they can ensure their child's social media and video settings are appropriately configured. However, overreacting to scary content related to the game can lead to a muddled response to actual concerns children may have.
Banning a child from a game they enjoy because of related content can also hinder communication between parents and children about potentially upsetting online experiences. Instead, it's recommended that parents use rating advice and even play the game themselves, so they can provide informed guidance and be present in their child's gaming world.
Creator of Huggy Wuggy song
Igor Gordiyenko, better known by his YouTube name TryHardNinja, is the creator of a widely popular piece of fan content that sparked controversy. The song, titled Huggy Wuggy, has amassed around 5 million views on YouTube.
In an interview with Forbes Igor Gordiyenko stated that the inspiration for the Huggy Wuggy song came from the story and lore of the Poppy Playtime game, in which the player investigates a toy factory where some of the toys have transformed into sinister killer monsters. Huggy Wuggy is one of the game's antagonist monsters, and the original jingle in the game's soundtrack inspired Gordiyenko to create a more sinister version of the song.
Gordiyenko stated that he did not intend to scare young children with the song, and that it was targeted towards a teen and up audience. He emphasized that the themes and visuals of his song and video were true to the character's lore and depiction in the game, and that he was not trying to make an innocent character appear scarier than they are.
As a YouTube creator, Gordiyenko marked the video as "Not made for kids" to ensure that it would not be recommended to children under 13. He also periodically checked YouTube Kids to ensure that the video was not served there, and had not found any evidence of it being on the platform.
If parents were worried about their children finding the song and being upset by it, Gordiyenko advised sitting with the child, talking about what they saw, their feelings, and reassuring them that Huggy Wuggy is a fictional character that cannot harm them.
Instead of focusing on specific online threats like Momo or Huggy Wuggy, parents and professionals should prioritize teaching children safe online practices. This includes fostering an open and transparent environment where children feel comfortable sharing their online activity. If parents notice their children switching screens or adding new contacts, it's important to check in with them.
To further promote online safety, it's recommended to keep video games and YouTube watching in shared family spaces. Parents can also set up restrictions on friends and user-generated content in video games, especially those that include Poppy Playtime themes. Additionally, enabling Restricted mode on a child's account can help ensure they don't have access to inappropriate content. By teaching good online habits and taking necessary precautions, children can thrive in the digital world.
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