At long last, one of the longest-running unanswered questions in video games has been answered. Doomguy, the mysterious protagonist of the storied DOOM franchise of shooters, has finally been identified. Sort of.
John Romero, co-founder of id Software and designer on the original DOOM, shared in a post on his website the charming story behind the iconic cover art for the original DOOM (above). According to Romero, who also designed for such genre-trailblazing titles as Quake and Wolfenstein 3D, the story begins in mid-1993, when he and illustrator Don Punchatz were shooting photos of a male model to use as reference for their new game’s art. Romero had a specific vision for the game’s cover, in which the protagonist would be attacked by “an infinite number of demons”- but the model’s posing just wasn’t cutting it. So, Romero jumped in.
Frustrated, I threw my shirt off and told him to give me the gun and get on the floor – grab my arm as one of the demons! … I aimed the gun in a slightly different direction and told Don, “This is what I’m talking about!” Don took several pictures. I moved the gun some, the demon grabbed my leg, other arm, etc. At the end of it we all decided the arm-grabbing pose was going to be the best.
And just like that, one of the most recognizable pieces of cover art in video game history was created. We salute John Romero for not only his contributions to game design and modern shooters, but for being ready and willing to take his shirt off when the situation required it.