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A love letter to Cacodemons, Carmack, and Doom

1:00 PM on 12.14.2013 // Maxwell Roahrig

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[In honor of Doom's 20th anniversary earlier this week, Max shares this remembrance. Want to see your own blog appear on our front page? Go write something! --Mr Andy Dixon]

When I was eight years old, my dad brought home my first computer that was just mine. I'm sure he was tired of having me on his machine all the time and decided this was the best way to solve this problem. Dad was like that.

Turning on my beige mystery box was a magical feeling. I had just discovered the internet, and Napster was ever looming around the corner. My gaming loves at the time revolved around Rogue Squadron and Star Fox 64. But once I had that computer, everything changed for me.

My dad had a buddy named Gene who owned a computer business in Indy. I'd love going up to his office with my dad, because I was free to hang out with the IT guy there (who's name escapes me, but he introduced me to my first SNES emulator) and learn about computers that way. On one occasion, this IT guy told me about a game called Doom. He set me up a machine and showed me how to play, and then left me to it. Two hours later, my dad came to collect me. Little did he know that I spent the afternoon blowing demons into chunks.

My dad and I installed my little collection of PC games onto my new machine. SimCity 2000, Star Wars: Dark Forces, and Top Gun: Fire at Will. But one thing I noticed was a little icon in the Games folder named Doom. To this day, I'm all but certain that my IT buddy snuck that on there for me. As soon as my cursor hovered over that icon, my dad told me that I should probably not play that game. That was all the permission I ever needed.

Whenever my folks would leave the house, I would hide in my room and sneak in some time playing Doom. And what made the game scary wasn't the atmosphere or hordes of demons. It was the fact that at any moment, my mom or dad could open the door to my room and discover me playing this god-awful game of guts and gore. The situation I created for myself was so nerve-wrecking and added so much to the game.

Fifteen years later, I still play Doom. I don't think of too many pieces of art to be "life-changing" since that phrase has completely lost all meaning thanks to overuse. But Doom was a life-changing work of art. It made me want to play games on the PC. It introduced me to new ways of game design and thought. It continued my interest in computers, and technology as a whole.

It's nearly 2014, and as I write this, my new computer is on its way to my front door. I'm now a systems technician and work with computers and technology every day. And partially, I have Doom to thank for that.

Thank you id Software. Thank you John and John. Thank you dad. And thank you to my irresponsible IT buddy.

Maxwell Roahrig,
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