Usually I would say this in a fun and joking way, but in all honesty, today’s episode deals with very serious, very sad, and very scary topics. This is, without question, the darkest, most emotional episode of Game Theory to date. Just be warned: This episode gets intense. *Awesome GT intro :P* Hello, Internet! Welcome to Game Theory! So… You made it past that initial warning, huh? Consider yourself brave, do ya? Well, it’s now time to get serious and scary. Today, we’re talking about Petscop, The scariest game that, sadly, you’ll probably never play. You see, five months ago, March 12th, 2017 a brand new YouTube channel began uploading Let’s Play videos of an incomplete PlayStation 1 styled game entitled Petscop. The person playing, who never introduces himself, but we’ll call Paul, since that’s what he names his save file, simply says that Petscop is a game that he “found” and that he’s uploading videos of it to prove that everything, he’s been saying about this game, is real. Paul: This is just to, um.. prove to you… That I’m not lying about this game that I found. He starts it up and it immediately feels like Pokémon. Our mission is to collect quirky little creatures called “pets”, not by battling them, but rather by solving puzzles. For instance, one pet named Wavy is a rain cloud, so you catch its water droplets in a bucket. Another named Pen, hides on a keyboard and you have to use a treadmill to match its notes. Janky fanfare blats out every time a new Pet is added to your collection. This area is known as The Gift Plane, and the first signpost tells us that this world once “provided homes to over a hundred different pets.” but now only “48 remain.” Another sign encourages us to “find somebody that we like”, that “we don’t have to love them right away.” Huh… That’s an odd thing to say… And the third tells us not to be discouraged if the pets run, they do want a home, but they’re just afraid and that it’s our job to show them that there’s nothing to fear. Okay, sure but then in the process of solving the next puzzle, Paul proceeds to steal the water from a flower, smack its head with a bucket, cause it to wilt and then, huzzah! A new pet is caught. Not quite the way to show our new pet kindness, but hey, it filled up one of our slots in the “Pokedex”! In the first couple minutes you can already tell that things in this game are a bit… Unsettling. The game is unfinished, the sound effects are distorted and weird, the in-game text just feels… Off. And let’s be honest: your character has an olive-green butt for a face. But its six minutes into the first video of the series when things start to get really unusual. Paul reveals that he found a note with the game telling the player to go to a specific room and punch in a code. As soon as he does this the goofy music cuts off. Something about this game has changed. He leaves the building and we’re suddenly no longer in the white and pink world of The Gift Plane, but in some sort of underworld. A layer beneath the surface game. And THIS, is where the true mystery of Petscop begins. It’s in this underworld where over the next nine videos we watch Paul encounter: dead children, disfigured sprites, Paul censoring images for unknown reasons and a haunted cursed game, capable of acting on its own. Now, it should be fairly obvious that Petscop is a game created by Paul, but can we admire the meta-ness of this for a second? It’s a fake Let’s Play of a fake game, purposely built with glitched code and a dark hidden secret all in an attempt to create a real-life Creepypasta like the story of Ben Drowned. You know the one. The tale of a child who died and went on to possess a copy of Zelda Majora’s Mask. But, unlike other Creepypastas that are based on fictional stories, Petscop’s biggest scare comes from the fact that over the course of exploring this underground world, it’s telling you, as the viewer, a real story. A story that will disgust and anger you. The story the game is trying to tell. The story I’m about to tell you now, is one that’ll make you go cold. And why I left that disclaimer at the top of the video. April 18th, 2000, Evergreen, Colorado. Born into an abusive home, Candace Tiara Elmore had been taken away from her family by Social Services at age five, separated from her younger siblings, Michael and Chelsea. After two years of being passed around between foster homes, Candace had finally been adopted by a middle-aged nurse named Jeane Newmaker. With the adoption would come a new life for Candace, as well as a new name: Candace Elizabeth Newmaker. But the adoption wasn’t a smooth one. Jeane reported that Candace exhibited severe psychological and behavioral problems: setting fires in the house, assaulting other children, destroying property. It’s unclear whether these reports are true, as others claim Candace was a sweet and polite child, but regardless when medication and counseling proved ineffective at healing their relationship, Jeane decided to try an experimental new form of treatment, aimed at helping adopted children connect with their new parents. Something known as Attachment Therapy. That tuesday morning, as a part of her two weeks of treatment, 10-year-old Candace Newmaker was meant to simulate being born. As a means of helping her reattach to her new mother. As a part of this so-called: “Rebirthing”, Two Therapists wrapped Candace in a flannel blanket, covered her in pillows, then sat on her, along with two other fully grown adults. 673 pounds of combined weight pressing on the girl’s face, chest and 70-pound body. The following lines are direct excerpts from the transcript of the session and again, I offer you one final warning. Click to the time stamp you see pictured on screen if you’d like to skip this section. “So little baby… Are you ready to be born? If you stay in there, you’re going to die, and your mommy is going to die.” That’s one of the two therapists in the room speaking to Candace in her make-believe blanket womb. In these first few minutes Candace is clearly confused about what she’s meant to do as a part of this roleplay. “Where am I supposed to come out? Right here? Where my finger is?” No response. After struggling to free herself for 7 minutes, Candace cries out: “Who’s sitting on me? I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t breathe. Please quit pushing on my head. I can’t do it.” Still no response. For the next 10 minutes she continues to cry for help – for oxygen. Candace begins to shout that she’s dying. Still no response. 16 minutes in, Candace, confused and desperate to escape asks: “You want me to die for real? Die right now and go to heaven?” The therapist replies, still sitting on her: “Go ahead and die right now. For real. For real.” 20 minutes in. Still stuck in a blanket under the combined weight of 673 pounds, Candace begins to vomit and defecate onto herself. The only response from the two therapists: “Go ahead. Stay in there with the poop and vomit.” 40 minutes in. Therapist: “She gets to be stuck in her own puke and poop! It’s her own life! Quitter. Quitter. Quitter. Quitter. Quitter. Quit. Quit. Quit. Quit! She’s a quitter! This baby doesn’t want to live! She’s a quitter!” At this point, Candace has gone silent. Still. And yet the torture continues. 70 minutes. After wrapping this 10-year-old in a blanket, and sitting on her, the five adults in the room finally decide that she can come out, saying: “Let’s talk to the twerp!” Upon seeing her lying on the ground: “Oh! There she is! Sleeping in her vomit.” But obviously, Candace wasn’t sleeping. She had passed out due to the lack of oxygen. Her brain now dead. Her face and fingers blue. She died later that day. A year later, the two therapists would be found guilty of reckless child abuse, receiving a 16 year prison sentence – of which they served 7. Everyone else in the room. The two other adults sitting on the child, as well as Jeane Newmaker, who watched it all happen, only received minor slaps on the wrist. Obviously this is a horrific story, the tragedy of an innocent girl raised in the worst possible situation. Mistreated by greedy and callous individuals. It’s awful, showcasing some of the worst depths of humanity possible. But I shared it with you because connecting the events of Candace Newmaker’s story to the haunted game Petscop helps explain the core themes and disturbing imagery of this creepy web series. The first, and most obvious, connection is that you are called Newmaker in the game. In one of the underground rooms you find a device named Tool, that answers the questions that you ask. When Paul asks “Who am I?” It responds with “Newmaker.” When asked “Where am I?” The answer it returns is “Under The Newmaker Plane.” So, already we see a direct name connection, but that’s far from the only one. In Petscop part 3, Paul finds a note with a lot of disturbing information on it. But the sentence that stands out reads: “Tiara says young people can be psychologically damaged “beyond rebirthing”.” Not only do we have the mention of rebirthing, the same procedure that took Candace’s life. But the name Tiara, appears to be a direct reference to Candace Tiara Elmore. Her birth name before being adopted by Jeane Newmaker. This connection is further supported by a note found during Petscop 2. It reads: “Do you remember being born?” Questions similar to what the therapists asked Candace before she was wrapped in blankets. Interestingly enough, when you asked that same question back to Tool it responds with: “I’m not Tiara.” Again. Reinforcing the idea of birth, with Tiara, and implying that she does understand being born, or at least understands the concept of being reborn. The “I’m not Tiara” can also be a reference to Tiara no longer being Candace’s real name after her rebirth. She had been reborn as a Newmaker. It’s also worth noting in a huge piece of evidence supporting this theory, that the “Do you remember being born?” note is found on the wall of a room that is clearly labeled as “The Quitter’s Room.” A direct reference to Candace’s story, where the therapists repeat over and over “Quitter, Quitter, Quit!” There are also other smaller name parallels as well. For instance, Petscop was supposedly made by the company “Garalina.” A completely made-up game developer. Candace is born and adopted in the state of North Carolina. Candace in real life also had a brother named Michael and there just so happens to be a child’s tombstone in the game with the name Michael on it. And of course the name Candace, is only one letter off from one of the pet names in the game. Randice. That last point also brings up one of the recurring themes that we see present throughout Petscop. The parallels between the pets and children. Because in the game, you can actually catch both. On The Gift Plane, remember the cute and fun top world? You catch pets. Birds, plants, little purple meatballs. In the underground, The Newmaker Plane, we see Paul catch a crying human girl named Care, listed in the pet roster as Care NLM. And we know that she is a human, the game makes this distinction very clear. In the underground, there’s a building called The Child Library. It’s a building filled with rooms for thousands of children. In fact, you can visit the rooms of both Care and Michael. But there’s also a hole in the front. It’s kind of like an ATM, where you can make deposits. When Paul tries to deposit one of his pets in episode 7, the game clearly gives them the prompt that The Child Library only “accepts people”. But when he tries to deposit Care NLM in video 9, it works. Establishing that as Newmaker you are catching everything. It’s also worth noting the significant parallels between The Gift Plane and The Newmaker Plane. Designs that appear in the background animation of The Gift Plane directly reference patterns you see on blocks hidden in various rooms throughout the underground. With actions performed on the surface level directly impacting what’s happening down below. For instance, Paul walking on the treadmill in The Keyboard Room times out perfectly, with him plucking flower petals underground in The Newmaker Plane. Times out exactly. It just goes to show that these two worlds are connected. With the game trying to prove the point that adoption to some people, like Jeane Newmaker, is the equivalent of getting themselves a new pet. In fact, the themes of adoption and forced love are perhaps the defining feature of Petscop. As I mentioned before, the signs at the very beginning of the game tell you that the pets want to find a good home, but that they’ll run because they’re scared. Your job is to show them love. Instead, you trick them, beat them and trap them in order to catch them. Even Care NLM. The in-game description makes it clear that you lied to her, in order to capture her. And this is just like Candace and other children looking for adoption. They’re looking for a good home and although they’re scared, through love and patience they’ll eventually learn love and trust their new parents. But just like Paul’s character in the game. Jeane Newmaker used violence to try and force Candace to love her. In fact, here’s a quote from one of the websites covering the Newmaker story. “She acted not like a mother but an outraged consumer. She seems to have thought that when she adopted Candace she had a right to a “normal” parent-child relationship. When Candace’s natural bond with the mother she’d shown for her first six years persisted, Newmaker took Candace to Evergreen to be “cured” of it.” This mentality is reflected through the recurring gift imagery present throughout the game. Both pets and children in Petscop are seen as gifts. The Gift Plane is where the player can find a pet to bring home. In the underworld, Michael’s grave is in the shape of a gift box. The quote on his tombstone is that: “Mike was a gift.” This parallels the real-life saying that “A child is a gift from God.” But it makes the child into a commodity rather than a person. And just like a gift, it promotes the idea that the child can be returned if it’s defective. In Petscop, the little girl, Care, has three forms. Care A. A happy healthy girl. Care B. One where she’s growing sad. And Care NLM. One who is broken. Covering her eyes and crying It’s well established in the Petscop community that the NLM stands for “Nobody Loves Me.” But the game shows us through her description that there is hope for Care: “You’re the Newmaker, you can turn Care NLM to Care A and close the loop.” Instead, immediately after reading that, Paul abandons her. Dropping her off in the deposit slot in front of The Child Library and getting the message: “You’ve decided to leave Care NLM. In case you change your mind in 6 months, you can take her back.” She had the ability to recover. But instead, he gives up on her, returning her like a defective item from the store. Care was a gift. Just a gift that he didn’t want. It’s the same in real life, as between 10 and 25% of U.S. adoptions end in similar sorts of “returns.” That’s a big number. And if there was still doubt in the connection between Candace’s story and Petscop, look at the dates. Candace died in April of 2000. Exactly 1 year later, in April of 2001, the therapists were sentenced to 16 years in prison. 16 years! On April 1st, 2017 Petscop’s second video was uploaded, the one where the locked door, allowing access to The Newmaker Plane and Candace’s story mysteriously opens up on its own. After Paul himself admits that he’s never been able to figure out how it opens before. April 2017! Exactly 16 years after trial. The exact date when the therapists were supposed to be released from prison. Bringing the Candace story to a close. The story of Candace and what she represents. Adopted children. Struggling to find loving homes. Those aren’t stories that should remain buried under Happy-Go-Lucky facades, and Petscop is a game that seems to want to ensure that these stories continue to be heard. I added to it a bit here but the Candace Newmaker theory is currently the most widely accepted of the Petscop fan theories. Pieced together by an incredible fan community picking apart every detail of this cryptic web series. And personally, I’m a firm believer in it. The parallels are just too strong to real life. That said, I don’t believe it’s the whole story: there is so much to unpack in this web series. The mysterious items Paul censors, the character of Mike Hammond, Tool getting possessed, the disappearing windmill, Marvin and the black monster man, who the game was originally made for, and on, and on, and on. If you are at all interested, I encourage you to join that community of theorists and give the series a look. It is a great group that is well worth your time trying to unwrap something that has clearly had a lot of time and attention put into it. It is my hope that we’ll get another installment. Or, who knows? Maybe even an actual version of the game sometime soon? But until then, I think the most appropriate way to end today’s episode is to tell someone that you love them. Tell them that they’re important to you and that you appreciate them. No one should ever have to go through this world thinking that nobody loves them. So, share some love today and remember. It’s all just a theory. Not! The love just… The Game Theory! Thank you guys, for watching. If you believe in smart, well researched content, then please consider subscribing. Help us make that long trek to 10 million subscribers. It’s like the last achievement I need to unlock in this game of YouTube. And I will see you all for something that I guarantee is a little bit less heavy next week.