Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Escaping Hell

The first time I saw demons, I was about 9 years old. My friend Ian McLeod had invited me over to his house which was a den of everything fun, out of my age range and tempting. We had bought baby mice to feed to his pet snake, ate pizza and watched the movie Friday. I was in HEAVEN. Ian wanted to show me this computer game and I wanted to keep watching Friday, but we were pressed for time. When your a kid on a "playdate" you want to do as much as you possibly can with the 3-4 hrs you are spending with your friend. You have the whole week in school to use your imagination and play with toys - now was the time to go BIG.

Ian booted up his mom's computer and started up Doom 2. The graphics were advanced for me at the time (the only games i had at the time were 8-16 bit console games) and I watched him blow through some of the beginning levels, entering cheats and blowing the monsters away without a scratch. Then it was my turn. I sprinted ahead and killed my first Zombieman with a shotgun blast. I felt ALIVE. I ran through the level, shooting and killing monster after monster - becoming more fulfilled with myself with each kill. I knew nothing of "First-Person Shooters" but I knew as long as the game played like Doom 2 did, I would like it.

I left Ian's house with an obsession to play Doom, not knowing at first that it was a game that I shouldn't have been allowed to play. When I got home I couldn't stop talking about it - and my mom wasn't liking what she was hearing...especially the fact that I wanted to play the game. My obsession to play the game only grew and soon enough, my mom called Ian's mom and requested that I not be allowed to play Doom when I would visit Ian. We ALWAYS broke that rule and I just vowed to keep quiet about it. Ian's mom didn't see the harm in us blowing away these 2d pixel based creatures, but my mom was scared I was becoming a kid more violent in nature.

When we moved to Texas, my best friend Daniel had Doom on his computer as well. His dad would play it all of the time and would let us play when we came home from school. It even got to the point to where my dad actually had a copy in our house, and during the summer when he would sneak to work - I would install a copy of Doom 2 on the computer, play it and then DELETE it before he came home. It wasn't until I moved back to NYC in my teenage years that I was able to score a copy of the game for myself.

The reality of the game hadn't settled in yet until I heard about the Columbine shootings and how the shooters had used Doom as an influence behind their murderous motives. I was puzzled to why this game was coming under fire behind the shootings and soon learned that they had built actual MAPS (Doom levels) that mimicked the school. Placing myself in that world and also being influenced by a lot of gothic, dark and sometimes satanic atmospheric disturbances - I delved into the world of Doom and had been stuck there for years.

Doom had become a reality to me - I turned off the cheat codes and tried my hand at the first level, met with failure because I had set the difficulty too high. The demons and zombies of that world were spilling into my own becoming that much more difficult to destroy. Images of pentagrams and demons filled my head as well as the pages of my junior high school notebook. I felt like the lone warrior faced to fight these hellions around me and became swallowed in this world...a world I wouldn't escape until years later.

I've always had a theory that Hell would be just like Doom. Having to fight my way out of hordes of Imps without dying and taking on unbelievable odds only to have to start all over again on the next level. Well, guess what Hell? I just beat you. It took me damn near 10-12 years to do it, but I finally did it. I completed Doom and Doom 2 this year - and it makes me feel like I accomplished something. Like I could actually fight my way out of hell if forced to. It's bittersweet in a way because now it's over, but I feel like any soldier who's won a war they've been fighting forever...accomplished.

Kudos to Doom 2 for being one of the best (and most difficult) games I've EVER played in my entire life.

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