It was on the PlayStation where I got right into Doom. I was about 12/13 when we got ours. Doom was one of the first PlayStation games we owned in our house. Others will analyse the game’s merits far better than I, so I won't bother writing about that. When I think of the Doom series, I remember another opportunity for a dad to scare his son witless.
Some dads just enjoy scaring their kids. Not in a terribly mean way, more a little jump scare to wind them up.
I’ve always played video games with my dad, when I was a kid he’d take great delight in scaring the shite out of me in his own wee creative ways as we played through stuff together. Anything remotely tense or scary and a switch in his brain just clicked into action - scare the boy.
Doom isn’t scary in the way some games are, but it knows how to ratchet the tension. So we’d be sitting on a Friday night in the dining room, PlayStation hooked up to the wee telly and some music on. I always remember playing Doom to Guns n’ Roses song - Coma. Something about that steady heartbeat intro just made me shite it. Then my dad would shout “BANG!” or grab my shoulder when he saw the concentration etched in my face. It was always at that moment where I was completely absorbed in the game, and my guard was down.
He’d cackle hysterically, I totally shat it – every single time. I’d lose the plot and, naturally, storm off in a huff. He’d realise it wasn’t as fun now as when I was there, and I’d realise I wanted to stay up late and play more. A quick reconciliation and we’d repeat the same process all over again. This play-scare cycle would continue for many a game on many a night.
That’s the beauty of Doom though. Years after its release, ported to every system imaginable, and yet it still makes me shite it in the right circumstances. It’s the suspension of disbelief that gets a hold on you just long enough before the jump scare.
In the build-up to Doom 3’s release I remember magazines really hyping how terrifying this game would be. Playing now, it’s still got a creepy vibe, but nothing will top the first night we played it.
Our PC was in the dining room, on the opposite wall were newly-installed french doors leading into our back garden. Big, glass double doors with pitch blackness beyond them. Being the pair of idiots we were, a challenge was set: Play Doom 3, headphones on and lights out, while those doors are open behind you. I hesitated, but like a gullible Marty McFly I accepted the challenge when my bravery was questioned. Every little breeze of wind caused quick, nervous nervous looks over my shoulder, I was super sensitive to every little noise or shadow in the game. He found it hilarious. I lasted 15 minutes (generous estimation) before I chucked it. I don't know if it was because of that, but even now I hesitate to put headphones on playing in the dark.
I bought my dad the BFG edition of Doom 3 for his PS3 last Christmas. We talked about that night, laughed, and I watched him play a little of it on Boxing day. I waited, coiled, then shouted “BANG!” and grabbed him at what I thought was the most opportune moment to strike. He calmly turned round and said “You’ve got a lot to learn before you get the master, son”.
There’s a conservatory on the other side of those French doors now. Perhaps the next logical step is to set up in the garden one night, I need to get him back at least once.
You can find Grahame on Twitter at @Past_The_Pixels. Says he's the king of Fire Pro Wrestling in his bio, which at least one member of our staff claims is bullshit.