Generating Fun and Fears

A screenshot from the original PC version of Doom

Doom is credited with starting a craze for First-Person Shooter video games. Its graphic violence was controversial, but controversy did not prevent the success of Doom and its many sequels.

Generating Fun and Fears

You’re on a dull Martian moon. Suddenly, boredom is shattered by aliens with attitude. It’s up to you to defend Earth.

That’s the premise of Doom, the 1993 game by id Software, and the graphically powerful successor to its Wolfenstein 3D. Doom helped popularize the first-person shooter format in which players see through a character’s eyes. Originally distributed on Usenet and FTP sites, Doom also was among the first popular networked games - so popular that businesses experienced bandwidth problems as employees played at work. Doom’s high profile made it a lightning rod for concerns about game violence.

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Halo Master Chief statue

The first-person shooter game Halo: Combat Evolved was one of the first titles for Microsoft’s Xbox. Halo featured Master Chief, a Space Marine fighting the Covenant on a ring planet. The series spawned comic books, graphic novels, and a number of highly successful sequels. The release of Halo 3 was, at the time, the largest single-day release of any entertainment product.

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Be Wowed - or Beware?

Violence, antisocial behavior, and addiction. Imagination, hand-eye coordination, and harmless fun.

All these and more have been attributed to video gaming. Few media have provoked such a spirited mix of condemnation, enjoyment, blame, popularity…and profit.

Video games are not the first medium to spark social concerns. As long ago as 1948, the American Journal of Psychotherapy published, “The Psychopathology of Comic Books.” But video’s powerful graphics, engrossing fantasy worlds, and impact—particularly in first-person shooter games—ignited heated, emotional debates. In 1994, Senate hearings led to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, which rates software by age appropriateness.

Senator Orrin Hatch holding a Doom II box on Larry King Live

Hatch, a Republican from Utah, was one of the Senators involved in hearings on violence in video games such as Doom and Mortal Kombat.

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GtkRadiant Level Editor

Level editors let users create their own episodes within Doom. “Modding" games became a popular pastime for hard-core gamers, who often shared their created levels on the Internet.

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New York Times Article examining link between video games and school shootings

The shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 led to much scrutiny of violence in video games.

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Doom II box

This was the follow-on to Doom, id's smash hit first-person shooter game. The original Doom had been available only through mail order or shareware. Doom II was a commercial release sold in stores. Doom II was adapted fro many different platforms - both home consoles and personal computers.

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