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Great moments in PC gaming: Playing deathmatch for the first time

Great moments in PC gaming are short, bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.  

It was all a bit tricky at the time. My friend Mark and I decided to try playing Doom together using our modems (this would have been in the early-to-mid 1990s). The biggest issue was that we each only had one phone line in our apartments, and no cell phones. So we'd talk on the landline, then hang up and plug our lines into our modems and try to connect. If it wasn't working, the question was always: how long should I wait before plugging my phone back in and calling him? What if he's still got his line plugged into his modem and is still trying to connect? What if he's trying to call me at the same time I'm trying to call him? What if he tried calling while my line was still plugged into my modem, and when I finally plugged my phone in he'd given up trying to call and plugged his line back into his modem?

Oh, the trials and tribulations of the early 1990s! It's all so much easier today. But back then it took an entire evening of plugging and unplugging and calling and waiting and wondering.

When we finally did connect, somehow we wound up in co-op rather than in deathmatch. Not wanting to take a chance by quitting and trying to get deathmatch going, we just played co-op for a while, and it was incredibly fun. The novelty of seeing my friend running around in Doom, another actual human being in the game with me for the first time, was so strange and wonderful. And having a friend to fight next to in a game I'd played many times on my own just felt so cool. We played that way until I accidentally shot Mark in the back, killing him (friendly-fire was on), and then we managed to get deathmatch going. Also great fun, hilarious, and really interesting to face-off against another real person in a game in which I'd only ever played against AI.

The only issue was, I was considerably better at the FPS than Mark so I wound up trouncing him quite a bit, and after a few nights of Doom he wanted to try a different multiplayer game: Command & Conquer. This time, he was the one doing the trouncing. I suck at strategy and I never once even came close to beating him. Still fun, though.

There were no dance emotes, no worldwide leaderboards, no simple 'click to join' buttons, and no friends lists back then, but it was still weirdly wonderful to be sitting at my desk and seeing another human being moving around in my game for the first time. Sorry I shot you in the back, Mark.

Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring stories in RPGs so he can make up his own.