(Editor’s note: In this bi-weekly feature, Pixelitis staffer Matt Brown shares his “down the rabbit hole” look into gaming history. Having admittedly missed what many consider “classics,” join him as he dives in head first. We ask that you just be gentle with him.)
Every two weeks, like clockwork, I find myself with no socks. No t-shirts and no socks. Thus comes the inevitable trip to the laundromat with the quarters and the waiting and the bad television. I’ve discovered that one of the only remedies for this is the wonderful world of browser games and one of my new favorites is Doom.
Long before I discovered it’s online iteration, I had already played the original Doom on a high-schooler’s laptop at a party I probably shouldn’t have been to at an age not necessarily suited to exploding flesh. But hey, ’90s era graphics aren’t that disturbing.
Playing Doom again for this article was interesting not for the game itself so much as the pattern that it’s revealed to me. Most if not all of the classic games I’ve played over the history of this ongoing journey are excellent fillers of my time. There’s something about them all that makes them easy to put down and just as easy to pick up again. Like a very old friend, every time you come back to each other you’re right back where you left off.
It seems to be a certain charm that a lot of modern games are lacking. Or perhaps not lacking but can’t reproduce anymore because of how far games have come from the old days. With new technologies and voice acting and gameplay what it is, everything is so much more intricate that it once was. I thought about saying “complicated” that sounds like a bad thing. And it certainly isn’t a bad thing, the way these things have evolved, but it does obviously bring with it a lot of change.
With all the new tech, something that’s become more prevalent than ever is the telling of a cinematic story. Older titles didn’t always have that, and certainly not Doom. To me at least, it seems the limitations of old tech made a small canvas for designers to cover in all their digital paints. And the truly classic games, the games I’m experiencing for the first time and the games that so many people revisit and remember so fondly, are master works in those confines. I think they have to have that elegance and mastery to obtain all the lasting appeal they have.
Doom reminds me of all that be done with what amounts to barely so much as crayons today. Especially with the indie game scene being what it is, playing these classics shows how that elegance lasts. Now we’re trying to recapture that all over again, with each new Kickstarter funded project and documentary worthy title. So I guess it’s nostalgia. I guess it’s trying to bring gaming back to some of its roots. I guess it’s trying to recapture that elegance and make us all old friends again.
Some of my favorite modern titles are like excellent books. After a certain time away from them, it’s best to simply start over. But with Doom and with so many others, it’s about a pure gameplay experience and a simple, timeless tale. That seems like an excellent thing to strive for. And now that I’m delving into that world for the first time, I find myself hoping for many laundry days to come. Many more dirtied socks and stained t-shirts that drive me too my laptop and a cup of coffee and beautiful hours to fill. That’s what I hope for.
Oddly sentimental thing to get out of a game called Doom, I’d say, but it’s the damn truth.