It was the janitor who showed John Carmack that the world had changed. In 1993 Carmack was working on a new kind of video game for a tiny company called id Software. He had written games before, but nobody except computer geeks had cared much about them. “I remember showing some people games that I liked on the Apple II,” Carmack remembers, “and just having them sit there, completely not comprehending what could be enjoyable about moving these little guys around. People just did not get it.” But this game was different. “We noticed that the janitor coming in to empty the trash had just been sitting there staring at the game — for a long time,” he says. “The game had this power: it could affect normal people.”
Although conventional wisdom has it that games like id’s appeal to just a narrow, nerdy hard-core subculture, they’re actually wildly popular. Even before Doom 3 hits stores, 6 of the top 10 computer games in June were hard core. And two other games of that ilk, Halo 2 and Half-Life 2, are expected to post big numbers later this year. Universal Pictures has a Doom movie set to film in Prague this winter, with producer John Wells — of such respectable fare as ER and The West Wing — attached. (The Rock reportedly has his sights set on the starring role.) The hard core has become the mainstream. This isn’t a subculture, it’s a culture.
I was never a big DOOM or Quake fan—I did play them casually when they came out—as they were light on story and heavy on twitch game play. It took the story heavy and very cinematic Half-Life before the First Person Shooter bug really sunk its teeth into me. To this day my favorite FPS games tend to be ones with a good story behind them: Half-Life, Medal of Honor and its expansions, Call of Duty, Thief 1, 2, and 3, No One Lives Forever 1 and 2, and System Shock which was an interesting FPS/RPG mix that worked better than I expected it to. Return to Castle Wolfenstein was the first id shooter that had enough story to make it a must buy for me, though I rarely play it multiplayer as it just doesn’t feel quite right in that regard. Now DOOM 3 looks to be the second title I’ll eventually purchase from id (I have copies of Quake 1, 2, and 3 and DOOM 1 and 2 that were given to me by friends when they grew tired of them) as it looks to have a good storyline to back up its awesome visuals.
Anyway, the article was interesting reading and the game is on the shelves today. Hopefully you DOOM fans will avoid the fate of one of the characters over at User Friendly if you pick up a copy.