But can it run Doom?

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Title: But can it run Doom?
Creator: Andrew Sillers
Date(s): 15 May 2021
Medium: Video game, Gif
Fandom: Doom
External Links: game on ao3, source code on github
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You may be looking for the meme where people make Doom run on platforms not intended for video games: It runs DOOM.

But can it run Doom? is a mod of the 1993 video game Doom that is controlled through links on its Archive of Our Own page.

The game is presented as a gif of what the player character is doing right now, and the player (i.e., anyone accessing the game's ao3 page) chooses the character's next action by selecting one of the links below the gif. Since anyone with the AO3 link can choose actions, it's a collective gaming experience, perhaps similar to Twitch Plays Pokemon. It is also part of a long tradition of porting Doom to work on unusual hardware or software platforms.

The creator has also presented several talks explaining how they got interactive gifs to work on a static website like AO3,[1] [2] and has shared the code for interactive gif games on github. [3]

Reactions and Reviews

A post on Tumblr from May 2021 reacting to the AO3 work had garnered over 100,000 notes as of August 2021, and included some of the fan reactions from AO3 in screenshots.[4]

The response has been positive, for the most part, with many impressed, amused, or surprised by the work. Some fans questioned whether it was within AO3's Terms of Service to host an entire original video game, but other fans argued that gifbot's work was transformative. E.g.:[5]

There's been a handful of situations like that where I'm not sure if I should report it or not, but it really does fell against the spirit of the tos if that makes any sense. Like the play doom on ao3 thing. Yeah, running doom on ___ is a thing but thats not what ao3 is for and it definitely isn't a fanfiction so it Should Be Reported but I can't really bring myself to.
the doom thing is wonderful and absolutely transformative. the ai fic is probably also transformative, but not very cool unless you code the ai yourself and write everything it learns from
Running Doom on AO3 is DEFINITELY a fanwork and transformative
Putting my vote toward “Playing Doom on AO3 is definitely transformative fanwork” as well.
if running doom on ao3 is against ao3's principles then we need new principles! (I agree w/ the other commenters in here that it is, though, and shouldn't be reported)

also, AO3 is not and never has been only for fanfic. Vids, art, podfics, I even know some fangames that are published works on ao3 -- most of the non-text data is hosted elsewhere and embeded, and the same is true of "But can it run Doom?"


  1. ^ !!Con. !!Con Sunday May 16th published to Youtube on 17 May 2021. (Accessed August 2021.)
  2. ^ !!Con. !!Con 2021 - Night of the living GIF: Making interactive multiplayer experiences. by Andrew Sillers published to Youtube on 24 June 2021. (Accessed August 2021.)
  3. ^ Night of the Living GIF! source code. apsillers. Night of the Living GIF! published to Github in May 2021. (Accessed August 2021.)
  4. ^ Tumblr post thread, Archived version by lithium-alchemist, stonerfag, and crystal-rebellion reacting to the AO3 work.
  5. ^ Regarding 'written by an ai anon' RIGHT?, Archived version. Tumblr ask submitted to olderthannetfic. Posted 28 September 2022. Accessed 26 October 2022.