Doom: memories of a little girl

Though generally I do not spend too much time playing shooters, there was some enthousiasm from my part during the Bethesda presentation at E3 last year, when Doom was revealed. Not just because the game looks excellent and there are awesome new features such as the detailed level-editor, but also because Doom and I go way back: 22 years to be exact!

When I was a little girl my brother and I were always fighting. That was not out of the ordinairy, as he is over six years older than I am. He was always busy playing video games and I would entertain myself with Barbie dolls. That was the plan, but that was not quite how it is going. When my brother played with LEGO, I would want to play with it too and it was the same for video games. I would watch him play with my nose on the screen, cause what that little gray box called NES was doing, I would not have been able to do with Ken and my entire stable full of Barbie horses.

My brother was not very cool with his little sister being so fond of the console, so after a while he was going for something technically more interesting: the PC. It does not go very well playing with two people at once and there were more shooters coming out on PC, as my brother was leaning towards rougher stuff than just ducks and laughing dogs that even his little sis had an opinion about. The happy chiptunes that used to resound on the attic, made place for explosions from Duke Nukem and Doom.

Thankfully in that era computers still had very visible on/off buttons, that I had no trouble finding when I was secretly visiting my brothers room. When he would still be in school, the computer was all mine! When he came home, I would play Wacky Wheels, but when no one was looking, I would click on the Doom icon. The skulls that show what you choose in the menu, gave me the feeling I was doing something that I was totally not supposed to do as a little six-year-old girl.

On which difficulty level I was playing, I am not sure; I was too young to read the easy mode called “I’m Too Young To Die”, let alone understand what that meant! That meant that I had to try over and over and over again. I could start the game and I wanted to learn more about the Doom world, but exploring new locations was not easy for me. I had no idea if I was doing it right, and everything was in English, so I could not understand a thing.

That is why I let the graphics lead me. From the little skulls in the menu to the weird color combinations: it was all so interesting! When you start a level, a gray mass of pixels will go down like some sad curtain, to make place for even more gray pixels. That was obviously to make the contrast with the red letters, red explosions and the blood that kinda is what Doom’s all about. Sometimes I saw some brown and green pixels, that made the world look even more gory. For example the green ponds that I thought were electrical, as the other waters were just normal blue.

Splashing around in the wrong pond will only happen a few times and then you learn not do it anymore, but I still had trouble getting further in the game. It was such a maze to me. I was not sure which wall would turn into a door and which one wouldn’t. And the enemies could be so challenging that I would lean all over my brothers desk because it was so exciting when one would pop up -especially the green haired guys were always out to get me-. They were making bear sounds while they were weirdly staring at me, but I would never think of it as being aggressive.

As a little girl I knew this was a very unrealistic game, just for fun. I thought it was super cool to do, and it felt like secretly I was doing something very mature. I played a game that was obviously not targeted for little girls: there was no pink, no glitter. The enemies were super weird (especially the hunchback kinda devils), the water was just one big mass of blue and then there were all these strange items I did not understand. Those blue bottles, they would be poison in any Disney movie so I did not grab them. And I did not understand what the key character, a man, wanted with a green crop top with boobs in it, wasn’t that something for Barbie?

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