Chris Duffin is a professional video game developer who was born in 1985. He started working at id Software in 1997 where he worked on Doom 3: BFG Edition, which won Game of the Year Award from PC Gamer magazine. In 2002 he joined Valve Corporation as lead designer of Team Fortress 2. His most recent work includes development of Left 4 Dead 2 and Portal 2.
In 2016 he announced that he would retire from full time employment after leaving Valve. He stated that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
He is married to a woman named Jennifer Duffin. They have two children together. Their relationship began when they were both students at the University of Southern California (USC).
The couple divorced in 2011.
Duffin’s father died when he was very young, so he grew up without any close relatives around him. He had no real friends either; instead, he spent much of his free time playing computer games. He was a natural introvert, more comfortable around machines than other people.
Duffin’s first brush with video games came at an arcade in town called Tilt. It had the typical assortment of games: Pac-Man, Defender, Berzerk, Joust, Galaga, Gorf, Donkey Kong and many others. But it also had two games that he’d never seen before: Phoenix and Galaxian
3. He became entranced with both of them.
He spent all of his money in the first week of operation and then resorted to asking his mother for quarters so he could play. His mom obliged and would drop them off at the arcade. He would then hold onto them until he had enough to play for an hour.
Duffin grew tired of the games at Tilt, so he walked a mile down the road to another arcade called Papermoon. It was there that he found his love for racing games–particularly Pole Position. On a trip with his mom to the grocery store, he noticed an issue of GamePro magazine with Al Unser, Jr.
on the cover. The magazine mentioned that he was running in the Indianapolis 500 and had a special promotion for it at Papermoon.
Duffin was so excited that when he got home, he told his mom all about it. She decided to surprise him and took him to Papermoon right after they returned home from the store. He played the game all afternoon and watched the real-life Indy 500 on a small black and white TV in the corner of the arcade.
He didn’t have much else in the way of toys growing up, but he did have an Atari 2600. His mom’s boyfriend at the time (Duffin calls him Steve) was good friends with the owner of a local toy store and got it for $25, nearly half off. It was in very poor shape cosmetically, but it worked well mechanically.
It had a lot of great games, including Warlords, Pitfall!, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Black Jack, Superman and Adventure.
He had quite the imagination as a kid and loved playing make-believe. To this day, he feels that playing games is just a more immersive form of pretend.
Duffin and his sister spent a lot of time with their dad’s side of the family, which was composed of heavy drinkers. His uncle would take them to bars when they were less than a year old. In kindergarten, he once drank a Long Island Iced Tea that one of his mom’s friends had ordered at a bar.
He said he thought his head was going to explode.
Duffin’s parents divorced when he was six and he went to live with his mom in a small one-bedroom apartment. He never saw his father again. When he was 10, his mother met a man and they had a child together, which meant Duffin had a new half-sister.
The new boyfriend didn’t get along with his mom or Duffin and was eventually incarcerated.
When he was 15, they moved into a house in the country. He had to ride the school bus for the first time and witnessed a horrific car accident on his first day. A drunk driver hit a car full of high school kids head-on and three of them were killed instantly.
Both of the drivers were decapitated. It was a scene he never forgot.
In his early 20s, he lived in Missouri and worked as a night stocker at a grocery store. He had just gotten off work one night when three people tried to rob the store. He hit one of them over the head with a case of soda and ran out the back door.
He hopped a six-foot fence and ran through several backyards before he heard the sound of police sirens. He got home without being caught.
Duffin enrolled at College of the Ozarks, but didn’t like it. He played pool in a local bar to make money and saw that some of the people who hung out there were dealing drugs. It was more money than he could make at his job, so he started dealing for a while.
He made enough to finish his education, but it was never a lifelong ambition of his.
He eventually moved to Missouri and became a bartender. His mother died of cancer soon after he graduated from college and she was the only person who was really in his life. He’d been having an ongoing battle with depression for years and didn’t do much else other than work.
He was lonely and thought about suicide on a regular basis. He had no close friends, just people he worked with and saw at the bar.
One day, he happened to be walking by a hair salon that had just closed and saw one of the employees carrying a box to her car. He stopped to ask if she needed help with the box and they struck up a conversation. She agreed to go out with him and they’ve been together ever since.
She doesn’t like his bar job and wants him to do something better, but he can’t imagine doing anything else.
Duffin is in the middle of telling another story when you hear the ding of the elevator arriving. You draw your gun and crouch behind the counter, peeking out to see who it is.
It’s Len and he looks furious. He has a large cut on his forehead and a split lip. His shirt is torn and buttons are missing.
His face is red and his breaths are short and quick. He holds a pistol in his right hand and it is pointed at the floor. Both of his hands are noticeably shaking.
You point your gun at him and he stops talking. He looks surprised to see you, but there’s something else in his eyes.
Guilt? Shame? Fear?
It could be a combination of all those things and then some.
“Wh… what are you doing here?” he asks.
You notice his hands are still shaking, but the gun hasn’t wavered.
“I could ask you the same thing.”
“This… this is my place!”
Well it’s my place of employment and I can’t say I’m too happy to see you here.”
He doesn’t say anything. He just stands there looking at you like a deer caught in the headlights. His hands are still shaking.
You don’t know if he’s waiting for you to make the next move or what. Part of you wants to kill him right here, right now. You’ve got more of a reason to than the cops ever would.
But, at the same time, this is the easiest you’ve seen it for you in a long time.
If you let him live, who knows what could happen?
Maybe he’ll get in a more fatal accident than the one you would have had to make to kill him. Maybe he’ll end up in jail for something and live out the rest of his days there, never to bother you again. The world could even end tomorrow and it’s not like were going to miss out on anything worthwhile if we’re both still here.
“I’m not going to bother asking why you’re here. I already know. You’re here to put an end to me, like all the rest.
But you’re too late.”
What are you talking about?”
you ask, not knowing what he’s getting at.
“You heard me,” he says, his voice now taking on a hard edge. “You’re too late. I’ve already killed myself.”
It’s then that you notice the puddle of blood growing around his feet. It’s seeping between the tiles and running down the adjacent wall. He’s hurt himself, which means he’s desperate.
Desperation can lead to mistakes and if he’s made a mistake, you need to capitalize on it right now.
Why would you do something like that?”
you ask, trying to sound sympathetic, even though you’re not.
“Because I had no choice!” he screams. His voice then becomes more pained as he begins to sob.
“I didn’t want to live in a world without her! I loved her so much and she’s gone!”
“You didn’t need to kill yourself,” you say, trying to coax him into showing you his face, so that you can take the shot.
“Yes I did! I lost everything that meant anything to me!
Why would I want to go on living in a world without her?”
“You just lost her. Give it time, you’ll move on and we can help you get through this-“
“No! No! You don’t understand.
I… I loved her!” he shouts as steps closer to the doorway. He stops and looks down for a moment before raising his head. You see the tears streaming down his face. “I’m not ashamed to admit it. I loved her. I loved her so much and she’s gone. She’s gone.”
You hear the click of his gun.
He’s going to do it. You’re going to have to shoot.
Foolish or not, he loved you and you won’t let yourself become a killer, even if you do take away his passion for living. You won’t fire.
You raise your own gun, pointing it directly at his chest. He stares at you in confusion and wonder for a moment, but doesn’t do anything except close his eyes. The gun in his hands goes off with a thundering roar that only shortly lasts before being replaced by the sound of your own gunshot echoing off the walls.
He falls backwards onto the sidewalk as you stand there trying to catch your breath. He’s going to be okay. You didn’t kill him.
The bullet hit his shoulder. It’d hurt like hell, but he was still going to live.
You leave the backyard and return to the front of the house. Your car is still where you left it. Getting into the drivers seat, you sit there for a moment before starting it up.
The man that killed your wife is going to live. It wasn’t your choice, but that of your heart. You had every opportunity to kill him and you didn’t.
Was he alive? Was his crime still going to go unpunished?
Your heart sinks as you think about the fact that you let a killer live. Your mind races as you wonder if you should turn yourself in or something similar.
You can’t do it though. You know what the law will do to you…
even if they believe your story. You might get off… maybe even with the defence that you were temporarily insane. But it would be months before you’d be released if that was the case.
What would you do until then?
You had to get away. You had to start a new life. It was the only option available to you.
You start up your engine and back out of your parking space. You head to the nearest highway and drive for miles and miles until you’ve left your hometown far behind you. You decide to keep going north until you reach a town called Bend.
The drive is long and tiring, but as you enter the town, you feel a certain feeling of relief wash over you. You’ve escaped your old life. It’s time to start a new one.
You find a small apartment, which gets you through the next month. Using the little money you had left over after finding this place, you buy yourself some clothes and other things you’ll need like groceries. The rest goes to a savings account, in case of an emergency.
It’s time to find work.
As the days pass you send out resumes and fill out applications wherever you can, but there just aren’t that many jobs available in this down economy. You aren’t picky though, and eventually you land a job as a stock boy at a local grocery store. It’s not exactly your dream job, but it’ll pay the bills and that’s what counts.
Time passes and you find yourself slipping into a routine. You go to work, come home, eat, and sleep. It’s the same thing day in and day out and soon a year has passed.
You’ve learned to deal with your grief, but you still wonder about what might have happened if you had stayed back then. You never could have imagined how different your life would have turned out.
You still think about that woman and the choice you made. You even go back and try to find her once, but you don’t have any luck. The police are still looking into her disappearance, but they’re stumped.
You’d tell them who you think did it, but there’s no way they’d ever believe you, a perfect stranger, over someone with ties to the community.
You suppose it doesn’t matter now. She’s gone and there’s nothing you can do about it.
You think back to your ninth grade history teacher and remember something he said before he died. History is written by the victors. For you, you’ve rewritten a little of it.
It’s just your name that’s still in question.
Sources & references used in this article:
Peptide agonist of the thrombopoietin receptor as potent as the natural cytokine by SE Cwirla, P Balasubramanian, DJ Duffin… – …, 1997 – science.sciencemag.org
Progressive severe lung injury by zinc oxide nanoparticles; the role of Zn 2+ dissolution inside lysosomes by WS Cho, R Duffin, SEM Howie… – Particle and …, 2011 – particleandfibretoxicology …
International patient and physician consensus on a psoriatic arthritis core outcome set for clinical trials by …, YY Leung, W Tillett, M Elmamoun, KC Duffin… – Annals of the …, 2017 – ard.bmj.com
Handbook of Paleoichthyology by M Ginter, O Hampe, CJ Duffin… – … : Teeth. Verlag Dr …, 2010 – pfeil-verlag.de