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“Doom Eternal” and its old friend controversy

By Cam Turner

Since 1993, the video game series “Doom” has been no stranger to controversy. Its violent gameplay and Satanic imagery was just the thing to get media riled up and send conservative Christian parents into a panic.

For this upcoming iteration, however, there is controversy for a completely different reason.

Gameplay for “Doom Eternal,” id Software’s new game, was revealed at Quakecon 2018. Three separate gameplay trailers were shown, each featuring some of its new mechanics and good old bloody action.

However, perhaps some of the more controversial bits of these gameplay demos came not from the violence or satanic imagery, but from messages that are played over some form of city-wide broadcast that would announce the following – “Remember, ‘demon’ can be an offensive term. Refer to them as ‘mortally challenged,’” and, “Earth is the melting pot of the universe.”

And so on.

These phrases seem to parody the environment of political correctness and therefore have been met with criticism for their politically charged nature.

In a GameRevolution article titled “‘Doom Eternal’ ‘mortally challenged’ joke is offensively boring,” Astrid Johnson wrote, “This parodying of new words to replace offensive terminology is a commonplace gag among right-wing circles, often a means of ridiculing the stereotypical ‘social justice warrior’ that, in the eyes of the right, have become too sensitive and overly-offended by the minutiae of controversial comedy.”

I believe this set of phrases makes a whole hell of a lot of sense given the context of this game’s story. See, “Doom,” while being mainly focused on its push-forward combat, speed, and strafing, does indeed have a story.

This terminology also makes sense if people understand the mythology behind Hell. In “Doom,” not only does the player battle hellspawn, but possessed humans as well. The player should gather from this that demons are a naturally corrupting presence, which also can be seen with the game’s main antagonist.

As the player goes through the game, they would notice holograms with messages playing throughout, seemingly giving the people who were employed at the facility an opportunity for promotion through various satanic rituals. One paraphrased by id Software’s creative director Hugo Martin in an interview with YouTube channel “noclip,” where he said, “We need volunteers for the revenant program, we’re gonna turn people into demons!”

With these satanic themes and fictional employees succumbing to Hell’s influence, this segues nicely to the phrases presented now. At this point, a majority of the fictional Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) are fully accepting of the demonic invasion of Earth. So, much like some actual companies would do, the UAC would adopt this politically correct jargon to seemingly welcome the demon invasion.

Does this make sense? I believe so, but at the same time it’s understandable that those without context to the previous game, interviews, and lore on Hell could see this in a more damning light.

Personally, I don’t believe id Software is an alienating sort of company. That would ultimately sell fewer copies. I think this is a clever use of real-life situations to create a narrative featuring insane businesspeople who somehow retain enough cognition to form jargon that is ultimately favorable toward Hell in a game series that, may I remind the reader, doesn’t take itself that seriously.


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