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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #29: Doom

Updated: Jan 30

Say hello to my little friend!

I didn't waste a whole lot of time in college. There were only so many hours in the day, and between studies, plotting to take over the university, and the occasional romantic interlude, who had time for mindless digital entertainment? As it turns out, I carved out a little bit, an hour or two here and there of savage red slaughter that relieved the stress of wound-tight, too-ambitious undergrad. My roommate Joel introduced me to Doom our junior year (he had a computer, I had a typewriter), and it became a welcome stress relief valve. When you've been ingesting de Tocqueville and doing budgetary battle with mid-level bureaucrats all day, blowing some demons to bits is a therapeutic endeavor.

Doom was released into the world the same year I graduated high school, 1993, and it was, by all accounts, a prompt game-changer. It basically pioneered the first-person shooter genre, placing the player in a position of intimate and genuine peril. Played with headphones on, there was an immersive quality to the experience, one latter-day gamers may pooh-pooh as a matter of course in modern titles, but then was novel and epic. Turn the lights off in the room and feel your senses ratchet up a notch, your eyes flitting from corner to corner of the screen alert for any hostile movement, your ears pricked up for the slightest auditory hint of monstrous threat, your sweaty fingers ready on the joystick, your nose doing its best to ignore the unwashed laundry in the corner. Doom invited you into a world where everything existed to harm you, and did so with urgent flashes of crimson pain. Doom invited you to try again and again to navigate that thorny kill-box of stone and malice. Doom rejoiced as it ensorcelled you to stay up half the night pursuing bad guys with your double-barreled shotgun even though you had an Ancient History exam at eight in the morning. Doom.

I never did finish the game. But I did finish college. And maybe those two things are not unrelated.

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