The Strange Case of “MyHouse.WAD”

Screenshot from "MyHouse.WAD" by Tai Goodman.

If you’re an avid gamer, there’s a chance that you’ve heard of something called “MyHouse.WAD” around the summer of 2023. For those wondering what it is, it’s a map for the 1993 first-person shooter, “Doom,” which has taken gamers, streamers, and YouTubers by storm. What’s so special about it that has people reinstalling a thirty-year-old game just to play it?

“MyHouse.WAD” is a map uploaded by a user named Steve “Veddge” Nelson, whose friend, Tom, passed away and left behind a floppy disk containing the map. After finding it, Veddge uploaded Tom’s map to the public. Players learned about Tom’s passing and tried his map as a means of honoring his memory, only to have their expectations severely subverted. Soon after, the number of players recommending the map gradually increased.

It’s worth noting that going into “MyHouse.WAD” blind is a great way to experience it for yourself. However, there’s a surprising amount of depth that even a blind playthrough can’t completely make clear. Either way, this is arguably one of the greatest maps for “Doom” ever made.

On the surface, the map is a recreation of Tom’s house- just with demons and possessed soldiers running amuck. Playing this normally like any level in “Doom,” you blast your way through the house with an increasing arsenal of weapons to grab three different keys. Upon grabbing the blue key, you can exit the level.

For the amount of hype that surrounded “MyHouse.WAD,” this seems questionably easy. That’s because while every other map for “Doom” is about ripping and tearing your way to the finish line,“MyHouse.WAD” is really asking for you to take a detour. 

After venturing inside, exploring outside will cause the house to reset- enemies and all. Undoubtedly, anyone that notices this change will probably go back inside wondering what just happened. Nevertheless, the goal still remains the same: grab three keys, except this time, the front and back doors go missing after the final key is found. Meanwhile, other doors appear in physically impossible places, and with no other way out, you have to see what’s behind them.

By this point, “MyHouse.WAD” becomes more of a horror experience. Don’t fool yourself thinking, “It’s just ‘Doom,’ there’s nothing to be scared of,” because there are many different things to fear. New enemy types have been implemented, spontaneous winding corridors will give a sense of insanity, and some surprisingly effective jump-scares keep this experience nerve-wracking- all to the tune of a distorted version of the “Doom” soundtrack.

“MyHouse.WAD” does many things well that haven’t been seen in other custom “Doom” maps. It breaks down barriers relative to map design. While it sounds easy on paper, creating two rooms on top of each other with the ancient “Doom” Engine is actually difficult, and so is creating a variety of optical illusions. There’s also multiple endings, which are dependent upon your environmental interactivity. Not only is this map unique, it’s also innovative for such an aged game. Never before would I have thought a map in “Doom” would keep me on my toes, but it’s here where I’ve learned that innocence is the best facade.

Outside of the actual game, all of the shock and hype has contributed to a large amount of analyses from the players. The reason this is important is because “MyHouse.WAD” never fully tells you what’s occurring, so doing research afterward will help anyone understand it. The map itself is a recreation of Tom’s house, but the events within it are inspired by the horror novel, “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski. Even with that being said, there’s subtle hints to a sub-story, like someone being unprepared for parenthood.

Today, “MyHouse.WAD” has become bigger on the internet. It crawled its way into the hearts of “Doom” fans, mapmakers, and modders, inspiring other developers to mimic its tricks. Even the creator of “Doom,” John Romero, played it himself and was also thoroughly impressed. In other places on the internet, some consider it as a creepypasta and even a meme. 

At the end of it all, “MyHouse.WAD” will always be a mysterious work of art in video-game history. More importantly, it’s a shining piece of Tom’s legacy that everybody, including Veddge, is glad for perceiving.

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