Doom is 25
I don't really "play" Doom, so to speak. Doom just sort of is. It exists around me.
The publicity tells me that twenty-five years ago, it was released as shareware on floppy disc for DOS compatibles, but I know that in reality it was always there. I have clear memories of playing this as a very young child, yet the timeframe of its release would place me at six years old.
It can't possibly only be 25.
I vividly remember the first time I even saw it. Shareware, a friend's house. I think his name was Chris. It doesn't matter. I only visited him once or twice. I can't remember his face, but I can remember the room with the computer, with Doom glowing blood-red on the CRT monitor. Even then, I knew precisely what I was seeing. Those pixels are indelible from the first. Writing this I can recall the tingle of misbehaviour, of seeing the blood and carnage and being enthralled by its forbidden nature. Easy PC magazine (an obscure UK partwork generally dedicated to getting Windows running) ran a two-page overview of the game made sure to specify that it was not for kids. I was a kid. In that instance, I was a delinquent. Later, I was bought the Depths of Doom boxset containing The Ultimate Doom, Doom 2: Hell on Earth, Master Levels for Doom 2 and Maximum Doom. Roughly 3000 levels. All the Doom. Until Final Doom, which I bought immediately upon becoming aware of its existence.
Doom is omnipresent and all-encompassing. Every time I touch a computer mouse, I get a flash of that shotgun. When I play Doom I don't really think of it as a videogame. When I play Doom I don't really think. It's all instinct at this point. There are videogames and then there is Doom. Even today I feel that this has to be acknowledged. Doom is about rhythm and flow. You slide into a room and find yourself instantly analysing its denizens. Biggest threat in the room are the shotgun zombies, so you switch to the chaingun and blow them away, dodging fireballs thrown by a clutch of errant imp demons. They're next, so you pull the rocket launcher, but the pinky demons are closing in with those mad biting jaws. Time to pull out the chainsaw. It's been five seconds. You're beyond strategy. It's stimulus -> response. It's electric shock therapy. It's mad science. It's an experience so pure and perfect that even its direct, near-identical sequel Doom 2 gets it wrong. I mean, it's close. And Doom 2 is awesome. But Doom 2 ain't Doom. The levels are too big, the new monsters too frustrating to fight. Doom is graceful and considered. Doom 2 is big, brash and loud. Doom is Air on the G String, Doom 2 is You Shook Me All Night Long.
The modding scene is, of course, legendary. New enemies. New weapons. Full, brilliant games available to plug into Doom, all for free. Scythe. Pirate Doom. Valiant. Alien Vendetta. You can turn Doom into a tactical shooter. A roguelike. A platformer. Anything. Everything. I'm fairly convinced that even after the apocalypse, there will still be people making Doom mods. I'll be playing them too.
If the afterlife doesn't have Doom, I refuse to die.