The Fate of Doom

“So if we come up on each other [in a Doom 2016 multiplayer match] and all the game is relying on from a design perspective is aiming and shooting, well there are going to be people who aim and shoot better than you and there’s pretty much nothing you can do about that. That made death a frustrating experience because it meant you were just better than me.”

– Hugo Martin, from id Software (interview with Gameindustry.biz)

Nothing you can do? What about… Practicing?

Certainly part of the pleasure of playing a game is… Getting better at it?

There are few things that make me burn in hatred. But I hate – with all my might and all my soul – this culture of facilitation, of insulation from failure, obsessive protectionism, and safety nets.

How do these people view a tennis match? A game of chess? A Jiu-Jitsu fight ?!

Not everything has to be competition. There is a place in the video game world for more sedate, more narrative experiences. But even these experiences must challenge us; if not our manual dexterity, then our intellectual acumen. If not our strategic ability, then our philosophical ability. If not our fingers, then challenge our beliefs and values!

Videogames are art, you say?! True art challenges you!

Videogames are e-sports, you say?! Sports are about the challenge, the man in the arena!

But that is not the point here. It’s about smoothing out the edges of a game that dared – dared! – to pit one player against another in a test of skill. A test that would reward the player who spent the most time mastering the principles of the game, and that could perhaps inspire the loser by giving them a glimpse of the heights they could achieve, so long as they invested their time and effort.

But no, we can’t risk hurting the fragile egos of the men and women of 2019. The horror, that your life could be irreversibly damaged, your soul traumatized, by your coming across someone who plays better than you in a competitive gameplay mode!

Everything’s wrong here.