Aleks Krotoski

The Guardian, Thursday 14 May 2009

The games industry lost a great figure last week, a man whose near two decades of service helped to define our modern gaming culture. Duke Nukem, the iconic frontman of the cherished series that bore his name, was laid to rest with the closure of 3D Realms – the development studio that bore him, raised him and pig-headedly refused to let him go.

Duke’s passing has given me pause to consider all that’s happened in the industry since his first game was launched in 1991, in an era before the PlayStation, Dolby surround sound and, heck, even Lara Croft. His was such a strong character, with a charm and elegance particularly suited to that time, that today’s 3D characterisations – even the macho ones – seem like ladyboys in comparison. Sure, his charm involved repeating sexist epithets at his highly pixellated, scantily clad prostitute associates, and his elegance had more to do with how he held his gun and the way he shot a sarcastic one-liner, but his two-dimensionality – his utter lack of depth – made him instantly engaging, a hilarious pastiche, a bastard for all.

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