People are bored. People are frustrated. People are scared. I have three words for those people: rip and tear, a phrase that has existed for over twenty five years and either knowingly or not has been infused in the sweat and tears of gamers across the gaming landscape. The mantra lives on in everything we do. You need a break? Rip and tear. You need a promotion? Rip and tear. Someone broke up with you? Rip and tear. You can’t stand the people you live with? RIP AND TEAR.
It’s as simple as that. I know, I can hear the shakiness of your voice. No one comes back from sawing a demon in half with a chainsaw unchanged, but I will let you in on a little secret, it gets easier. Before long your first glory kill and your thousandth will feel the same. Effortless, a renewal of that ethos that was started by Romero and Carmack so long ago, with the first release of Doom in 1993.
At the age of one, Doom wasn’t even a blip on my radar back then. I was too busy being a baby. I do remember my brother fooling around with Doom III though when we were teenagers, and supposedly there’s a movie somewhere that has the Rock in it, but other than that, I had nothing on Doom. Then, around the release of Doom Eternal, they had a sale on the first three for five dollars a pop. I snatched them all, and recently I got around to firing up the original.
For an almost thirty year old game, Doom is still barrels of fun. I was never one to play these arcade style games, but now I finally get it. The action felt frenetic, with the level design channeling a mixture of eeriness and obstinate revelry. If I’m being honest there were more than a few howls of terror from me every time I’d turn around to find a demon in my face. More than once I died to pinkies or imps that snuck behind me or jumped out at me from the dark.
Growing up in a more modern era of gaming, the trend has been and to some extent still is to lean into hand holding when designing a game. This means autosaves, extra lives, tutorials, leveling up, clear pathways, and any number of other virtual safety techniques a designer can employ to catch a player when they fall. While some players might enjoy that style, that’s not the case here. You’re just a pissed off dude trying to make it to the exit, killing everything in your way, and if you die, that’s it. You’re done. Start over.
Admittedly, I died several time when I first started, getting a little frustrated that I had to start over all the way from the beginning. Then, in a moment of revelation, I realized the power of saving the game periodically throughout each level as well as the basic tenant of Doom games: keep moving. Always. After many more brutal deaths, I eventually settled on “Hey, not too rough” difficulty (easy), and have finally gotten the hang of it.
It’s a testament to Romero, Carmack, and everyone at id Software that their baby still holds up. Today, games like the original Doom are alien to a lot of gamers. I’m not sure what that says about us as people and as gamers. Everyone’s looking to add a little spice to their lives, especially nowadays. I suspect it’s more than that though. It’s practically law that human beings hate to lose, but as Doom as shown us over and over again, sometimes that’s what was only ever going to happen.
Sometimes Doom is thrust upon you and you must summon whatever divine, infernal, or other cosmic fucking strength that exists deep down within the crevacises of your soul to face down hell’s onslaught. You will die, but you’ll take every single one of those bastards with you. That’s the way this all ends.
And people may look at you and me and say, “Bro, that game’s gross. There is so much blood. Where’s the substance?” That’s when you turn and say in a monotonous voice, dripping with disdain, “This is the substance.” Because you know and I know that rippin and tearin has always been about more than just mowing down legions of demonic spawns. It’s about overcoming against the longest odds known to the universe. When life beats you down, it’s about getting back up and saying “Fuck you. This is me. Prepare to die!”
Originally published at www.cultofpixels.com on May 18, 2020.