Doom, released by id Software in 1993, is one of those games that has been ported to just about every machine in existence. In fact, I got a port of it running on my GPS from five years ago, which is beyond absurd. If you have an electronic device, chances are there is a port, remake, or clone of Doom that can be played on it.
Back in the early 90s I remember the first computer we ever owned. It was an old beige tower that my tech savvy uncle was throwing out, but instead decided to give to my Dad. I don’t remember a single thing about it except that it ran Doom, and that’s all it needed to do. We had the infamous shareware version that unlocked the first three levels before prompting you to buy the full version, but we still played it constantly. The shareware version allowed everyone to share and play Doom, and all you needed was a PC. According to Wikipedia and countless other industry pundits that I’ve heard giving out the same statistic over the years, Doom was played by around ten million people in two years.
Doom brought shooters to the mainstream while simultaneously creating the stereotype of the trigger happy, basement dwelling computer gamer. I would camp out in the living room and wait until my Dad was done on the computer so I could sneak over, punch in some cheat codes, and blast demons until my Mom caught me and insisted I play something less violent.
After seeing this year’s E3 filled with buzz cuts, body armor, and machine guns, it’s nice to remember where it all started. Long before Master Chief was shooting flood in narrow corridors, Doomguy was mowing down demons with a plasma rifle. He was the mold for many FPS protagonists that came after him, and the image of him on the cover of the game fending off a horde of ravenous demons is one of gaming’s most iconic images.
In fact, many of us have forgotten that FPS games were referred to as simply “Doom Clones” for quite some time after its release. This was, of course, due to the fact that Doom was the first game in the genre most people had seen, but also because it remains one of the most copied and heavily modded games of all time. The Doom engine was used in tons of games, including one of my personal favorites, Heretic. It was eventually released to the public as open source software in 1997, leading to even more great new projects.
And, like many violent games in the early 90s, Doom had its share of controversy. Hitting enemies with the rocket launcher reduces enemies to a pile of gore and ribs, and it has more satanic iconography than Marilyn Manson’s summer home. There was even a nasty rumor linking the game to the tragic Columbine shootings.
Doom was one hell of a game (pun intended) that bolstered the career of the most popular video game genre of today. Without it we might not have things like Goldeneye, Halo, and Quake. In an industry that was, at the time, obsessed with Nintendo consoles Doom stood out and turned people’s attentions back to the world of PC gaming. The world would be a much more boring place without Doom and the things it did for the industry. So as you go through the slew of shooter releasing this year, remember what Doom did to make that happen.