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The garden tool as a game console: “Doom” on a Husqvarna mower

Photo: Husqvarna

Don't be surprised if you see your neighbor kneeling in the grass in front of the robotic lawnmower next summer: he or she probably just wants to play.

At least, as long as the robot is a Husqvarna mower from the Nera series.

With these devices you can not only limit the lawn's growth, but also play "Doom" - even if only for one summer.

From April 25th to September 9th, the legendary first-person shooter from the 1990s “will be playable on compatible Husqvarna Automower models,” according to a company press release.

The Swedish group, which also owns the Gardena brand, showed the project for the first time at the DreamHack Winter e-sports event in Jönköping at the end of 2023.

Visitors to the event were able to try out the game themselves and qualify to take part in the “Doom” robotic lawnmower finals.

“Doom” makes it easy

It's easy to understand why Husqvarna chose "Doom" for its PR stunt.

The game, brought onto the market by John Carmack and his company id Software in 1993, has long since achieved cult status.

The graphics technology underlying the shooter has already been used for art projects, and the game itself has been made to run on e-readers, calculators, e-pianos and ATMs.

The reason: The game's hardware demands, which were once considered very high, are met 30 years later even by comparatively weak chips; the necessary RAM is still measured in kilobytes, while even mid-range smartphones have several gigabytes.

In addition, id Software has made it its principle to release its products into the wild as open source software after a while.

Anyone who wants to use and modify an old “Doom” version for their own purposes can do so without starting a legal dispute.

“Doom” as a “big inspiration for us at Husqvarna”

“Doom” has no longer been on the list of media harmful to minors, colloquially known as the “Index,” since 2011.

The game ended up there in 1994 after the responsible testing agency criticized the game's depictions of violence: "With its speculative, effect-seeking treatment of bloody slaughter scenes, the game essentially relies on a potential user's suspected voyeuristic or sadistic interest."

17 years later things were judged differently, new games went much further.

Björn Mannefred, who works as a robotics software engineer at Husqvarna, has come out as a fan of “Doom”.

He describes the implementation of the shooter for robotic lawnmowers as a “homage to the inventors of Doom,” he says.

The id Software team at the time included “some of the best developers of all time.”

Their work is “a great inspiration for us at Husqvarna,” says Mannefred.

The game will probably not become a mass phenomenon.

Only around 30,000 end users will be able to play the game on their robotic lawnmowers, writes Husqvarna.

The reason for this: Only the company's upper-class devices, which Husqvarna offers at prices starting at 2,200 euros, have the display required for the mowing "Doom", the control button, the start and stop button and the appropriate chip.