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Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (2003)

by David Kushner

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9913321,269 (4.09)1
Masters of Doom is the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. Together, they ruled big business. They transformed popular culture. And they provoked a national controversy. More than anything, they lived a unique and rollicking American Dream, escaping the broken homes of their youth to co-create the most notoriously successful game franchises in history-Doom and Quake-until the games they made tore them apart. Americans spend more money on video games than on movie tickets. Masters of Doom is the first book to chronicle this industry's greatest story, written by one of the medium's leading observers. David Kushner takes readers inside the rags-to-riches adventure of two rebellious entrepreneurs who came of age to shape a generation. The vivid portrait reveals why their games are so violent and why their immersion in their brilliantly designed fantasy worlds offered them solace. And it shows how they channeled their fury and imagination into products that are a formative influence on our culture, from MTV to the Internet to Columbine. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry - a powerful and compassionate account of what it's like to be young, driven, and wildly creative.… (more)
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English (32)  Spanish (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
This was OK, I guess. I enjoy re-reading accounts of 90s and 80s technology movements, and startups because I lived through most of it, moderately close to many of the front-lines, and nostalgia can be compelling. This also makes me a bit reflexively over-sensitive to inaccuracy or editorialising, or lack of any real feel for technology on the part of the author. Often this genre of books aren't even terrifically well written, or even that well researched. I would say this one is slightly above par - it captures the narrative and the sense of the times. It does a fairly good job of communicating the paradigm breaking technological innovations that the id team brought to PC games and graphics programming during their glory years. I always enjoy NeXT paraphenalia, and NeXTSTEP was crucial to the id development methodology, so it's good to see that getting a nod and a walk-on. I think I usually end up scoring these books mostly by whether I learned anything new. I suppose I did, but it is mostly that the id founding team all seem to be really unpleasant people, which is a bit of a disappointment. ( )
  colinstrickland | Feb 12, 2024 |
A fantastic reportage by David Kushner on the creators of Doom and Wolf 3D. Gives a peek into the lives of the two Johns who created many memorable video games. Will Wheaton was simply superb in his narration.

I still worry a bit about the narrative fallacy. You can get an impression that just these two guys created a revolution (along with people at id Software) alone. It might be true but the skeptic in me still refuses to believe. I somehow missed the culture / social context of other development that happened during that era, which led to the revolution. Remember, we know Edison as the inventor of the light bulb but a detailed examination of the history will say the otherwise. But anyway, this is just a nitpick, in such an excellent writing.

(Originally published at http://santhoshguru.com/2018/03/18/masters-of-doom/)
( )
  Santhosh_Guru | Oct 19, 2023 |
The writing isn't anything incredible, but the subject is absolutely fascinating. Long live id. ( )
  RyneAndal | Jul 12, 2023 |
Good read [sic]. Got two new 'want to reads' from it: Snow Crash and Neuromancer. ( )
  tjeerdhans | Jul 5, 2023 |
Great book. Short read. ( )
  zeh | Jun 3, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Kushnerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Masters of Doom is the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. Together, they ruled big business. They transformed popular culture. And they provoked a national controversy. More than anything, they lived a unique and rollicking American Dream, escaping the broken homes of their youth to co-create the most notoriously successful game franchises in history-Doom and Quake-until the games they made tore them apart. Americans spend more money on video games than on movie tickets. Masters of Doom is the first book to chronicle this industry's greatest story, written by one of the medium's leading observers. David Kushner takes readers inside the rags-to-riches adventure of two rebellious entrepreneurs who came of age to shape a generation. The vivid portrait reveals why their games are so violent and why their immersion in their brilliantly designed fantasy worlds offered them solace. And it shows how they channeled their fury and imagination into products that are a formative influence on our culture, from MTV to the Internet to Columbine. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry - a powerful and compassionate account of what it's like to be young, driven, and wildly creative.

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