Does Doom deserve all the acknowledgement it usually gets for being an important piece of video game history?
Into the Unknown
The truth is, Doom posed a very real dilemma for innocent gamers. Until now, video games had been largely tame, pixel-busting blocks and friendly characeters. Suddenly, here was a dark and evil game where an array of weapons were used to kill zombies and demons from hell.
To acknowledge Doom, we must also salute Wolfenstein for two separate reasons. It’s pioneering work in the 3d shoot-em-up genre paved the way for the technology in Doom, but it had also managed to cause a great stir, because it featured Nazis. But – secretly – I also think the truest core of the issue was that we simply wern’t used to seeing blood on the computer screen! We wern’t used to seeing people getting shot and dying. And now – here was Doom – and even more impressive, very dark and grim universe with much better graphics with which to express that violence. It seemed much more real, and had no cartoon element as Wolfenstein almost seemed to have.
Doom – The Videogame That Broke The Mould
The very culture of the game seemed to run counter to all it’s predecessors. At first it almost seemed to become part of a gaming sub-culture. The geeky few who had it running on their PC would get hours of entertainment that much of the rest of the world were not yet aware of. I remember talking to a friend at highschool about Doom, and finding I had nothing to compare it against. I just remember saying that it was exactly like Mario wasn’t. How could we possibly have known at the time that this game would become the yardstick for future games of it’s kind that it would spawn, and that a new genre and gaming culture had been born?
True, it was technologically advanced for it’s time. But we need to look beyond this to see the real X Factor in Doom. Why this game changed the face of video game history, and spawened a tradition of games that would follow. Today – the shoot-em-up genre is mainstream and interesting other variations on this theme began to emerge. third person shooters such as Max Payne, more tactical games such as Rainbow Six or SWAT 4, or combine some of these variations as a third person tactical shooter quite unique to games such Full Spectrum Warrior. As online gaming became more acessible, the focus was
shifted from the player to the battlefield. The player could now be killed and the show would go on without them. This was a significant shift away from the truer games to the original genre such as Half Life where the story evolves entirely around the main character, and would end when the players life did. But all these games owe their heritage and existance to Doom and to Wolfenstein for creating the culture, and the opening in the market. Although this doesn’t detract from how good its successors were in their own right, and what extra twists they deliver to the genre, we need to put Doom in the context of being the game which boldly went where no game had gone before. And did it bloody well.