Never Played DOOM: The Importance of Teaching Games History

This year will be the first intake of fresh-faced undergraduate students, the majority of whom will have not been alive when Doom was released. Think about that for a moment. Not only Doom, but other key moments in the history of the industry – Dune, Sonic, Mortal Kombat, Zelda, the Game Boy, the NES, hell even the first interation of Solitaire on Windows.

Now, I admit, I myself was but a twinkle for some of these, and was a spritely six years young when Doom was released, but nevertheless it didn’t take me too long to get round to playing it, and a multitude of other key titles, thanks to a wonderfully liberal approach to violent games in my house.

Jump forward to the present day once more and we find students looking to work in the industry that have never played Doom, and have possibly never even heard of the likes of slightly less iconic titles such as Marathon or System Shock. Last year, the percentage of final year undergraduate games research students who were playing such titles for the first time because I was telling them too was frankly, mind-boggling. This is like film students never having watched Citizen Kane, Art students never having seen a Van Gogh, Literature students never having read Shakespeare…

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