Many things can be improved by boshing them into Doom, and that goes for games criticism too. Liz Ryerson, a musician, Doom enthusiast, and the developer of Problem Attic, has written some of my favourite games criticism of recent times, and in March started recording the Doom Mixtape. It’s a video series where she plays through favourite and curious player-made Doom levels, picking over what makes them interesting and spiralling out to talk about all sorts of things connected to games creation, culture, communities, and commercialism. It’s pretty great. Plus, Doom.
The original idea of Doom Mixtape was, I believe, to pick out and pore over enough levels for a 30-map ‘megawad’. Ryerson’s more drawn to interesting and creative levels than necessarily polished ones, meaning you’ll see a good variety of things. That’s also one of my favourite recurring ideas of the Mixtape. As I’ve mentioned a few times, I really dig mods and other player creations going their own ways. But creative communities will usually, over time, form collective standards of what they think is good and think people should create, pushing towards homogeneity and losing wilder ideas.
The Mixtape’s commentary seems largely unscripted, so it’s not smooth but will more easily go interesting, unexpected, and contentious places. It is a pretty great thing and, after a short break, I’m glad it’s returned despite her shifting away from games.
You can start watching the Mixtape from the start over here. To snag your interest, though, I won’t embed the first vid. This, a few episodes in, is a pretty strong introduction with talk about imagining “an alternate timeline where Doom and Myst merged, where the action perfectly complemented the action and the story and the puzzle ideas, and they fused together to create some greater, stranger whole”: