Bloody Hell: The Catharsis of Rage in DOOM

[Originally published May 19, 2016]

A demon makes the mistake of coming within arm’s reach. I grab. I rip. I tear. Blood geysers over my virtual face, and I lavish in it. I revel in this flash of violence. Arteries and viscera spew catharsis, and I turn as the release ends. Another demon. Another opportunity for violent ecstasy. Before this next glorious killing, I have a thought. This is what Rage is. Rage is not hot. It does not bubble. It does not overflow. These descriptions are as inaccurate as they are clichéd. Frustration builds, but Rage does not. It is – by nature – a moment to moment, instantaneous reaction. Rage is the moment when your brain becomes so overtaken with passion that everything shuts down. Rational thought? Gone. Awareness of consequences? Forgotten. Empathy? Blasted from our minds. You shake, you clench, you quiver, and – for a moment – it seems like you’ll explode. But perhaps not.

Unlike the frenzied violence of DOOM, we do not enact our rage in the real world. We have been trained to not do so. Frankly, that’s a good thing. Rage is bad. Rage is dangerous. Eye for an eye doesn’t leave the whole world blind, but it sure as hell makes for a lot of hurt people. This is why we don’t bring the thrust of our Rage to its fruition. We simply cannot. So we push it down – this awful, painful, reactive force – so that we may never unleash it upon the world. But To Feel Rage is To Be Human, and that’s what’s so great about DOOM. The pace of its gameplay is as blinding, relentless, and brutal as Rage, and – as such – calls forth many of the same primal building blocks of said emotion. But DOOM lets us feel this Rage under circumstances that mitigate many of the problems of real-world rage. The beings you slay aren’t real – they’re not even people. They’re demons from hell, and they. Are. Evil. There’s no moral quandary here – and that’s what makes the slaughter so glorious. They deserve it. It’s a satisfying thought, no? I can feel what I want within this world – because it’s designed for the protected, directed release of cathartic human emotions. It’s devilish, it’s safe, and it’s fun.

Then the thought passes. Another execution. Another brief, brutal celebration.

I grab. I rip. I tear.

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