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Masters of Doom Masters of Doom Masters of Doom

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  4,763 ratings  ·  425 reviews
"To my taste, the greatest American myth of cosmogenesis features the maladjusted, antisocial, genius teenage boy who, in the insular laboratory of his own bedroom, invents the universe from scratch.Masters of Doom is a particularly inspired rendition. Dave Kushner chronicles the saga of video game virtuosi Carmack and Romero with terrific brio. This is a page-turning, myt ...more
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Published April 24th 2003 by Random House (first published 2003)
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Andrew Frueh
A hell of a good read, especially if you grew up playing id games and/or have a background in computer programming. The story has all the elements of a great Greek tragedy: the unlikely rise to success of two heroes, and the tragic flaw in each of them that ruins it. I wonder how many stories there are like this throughout the history of the business: Romero and Carmack, Jobs and Wozniak, Zuckerberg and Saverin, etc. It seems like a pattern that repeats itself: two friends that together propel e ...more
Dan
Jul 23, 2007 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Doom, computer programmers, consumate gamers, dreamers of all sorts
The true story of John Carmack and John Romero and how they created Id software and became the most prolific computer game designers in the 1990s.

The story describes how two misfit geeks were able to follow their passion of games and through hard work were able to make impressive advances in game technology and get rich at it as well. It also shows the ravages of arrogance on business and how letting ego come into play can destroy friendships and companies.

The story uses an extended metaphor for
...more
April
First off, Wil Wheaton, one of the nerd gods narrates Masters Of Doom by David Kushner, so I just had to have it and listen to it. I also figured that Masters Of Doom would be a welcome change of pace – as it’s non-fiction about video gaming. I went in hoping for something a bit similar in tone and geekery as Ready Player One, which actually was kind of a false expectation, yet in all honesty that is exactly why I put this audiobook on my Audible app. Also, I totally used to have Doom but was aw ...more
Rob
Executive Summary: This book is what I wish Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation would have been. As a huge fan of id games growing up, and a software developer this book really worked for me, but will probably be too slow for many people.

Audio book: I was doubly excited to do this book when I saw that Wil Wheaton was the narrator. He's a perfect fit for this book. He also does more accents and voices than I'm used to. Overall an excellent job.

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Abhay Rana
An amazing account of the two Johns. I was obviously more bent towards Carmack, him being a programmer, but this book beautifully highlights the ups and lows of the journey. It leaves you waiting for more, and I wish to hear more of this story. Even though it focuses mainly on the two Johns, this book is not a biography. Rather it is an account of the Silicon Valley Gaming & Startup Scene in the 80-90s. I would go so far ahead to label this as a "startup-book", with two entrepreneurs making ...more
Lampimampi
Книга о героях моего детства, гениальном фантазёре и гениальном социопате, которые творили историю вместе, а разошедшись, так никогда и не приблизились к прежнему успеху, могла бы быть умеренно интересной, но крепкий средненький нонфикшн был загублен переводом. Даже не знаю, что тут хуже всего. Избыточные комментарии? Пожалуйста: ценные комментарии сообщают нам, что игра "блек джек" (sic!) в России известна как "очко", напоминает, что такое must-have, а аббревиатура BFG расшифровывается аж дважд ...more
29alabs
Masters Of Doom cuenta la adicción de dos jóvenes, uno de Kansas y otro de Colorado, por los videojuegos, una adicción que los llevaría comprar Ferraris, mansiones en Tudor y sin duda a transformar para siempre la cara de la industria electrónica. Masters of Doom es, la historia de id Software.

Masters Of Doom es un viaje frenético de pizza, coca de dieta y arboles BSP aunque por supuesto los groupies nerd no pueden faltar. El enfoque principal del libro es la creación y transformación de la comp
...more
Michael Scott
Just how was it possible that Doom, a computer game about mutated humans, gore, and a Big Fucking Gun, would define the pop culture of the 1990s? Enter stage David Kushner's Masters of Doom, a book that fictionalizes the true story of the Two Johns (the tight, algorithm-oriented Carmack and the loose, game design-oriented Romero) on the road to richness, fame, and ultimate collapse. What's so interesting about this? Five ninth the (typical?) American story, with the outcasts getting the one-up a ...more
Adam Wiggins
Brash young upstart geniuses take advantage of emerging technology to invent a genre of entertainment that would go on to be bigger than Hollywood.

Big-budget games in the last ten years have predominantly been first-person shooters, the style of game invented by id with Wolfenstein, Doom, and perfected with Quake. It would be hard to even catalog all the traits modern games take from id's works: first-person perspective, network play, the weapon assortment (pistol, shotgun, machine gun, rocket l
...more
Joe
This book tells the story of John Carmack, John Romero, and id Software. It does a great job describing the early times, both in terms of relaying the facts, as well as giving a great feel of the excitement of discovery and invention, of pushing computers and gaming through incredible leaps to do things that most people thought just were not possible.

The two Johns sound like one of those cliched partnerships between two brilliant, and somehow vastly different yet ultimately compatible geniuses t
...more
Philipp
A fun book, and very well researched (several hundreds of interviews went into this one), but I can't vouch for its authenticity since I have no clue.

I grew up with Carmack's and Romero's games, getting my first PC (a 386 with 16 MHz and a fancy turbo-button for a blindingly fast 33 MHz) in 1994 was right at the height of their career - I had most Commander Keen parts, and until this book I didn't even know they were basically the start of the career of "the two Johns", both having created Comma
...more
David
For me this book was one part nostalgia and one part heroic programming tale. I can still remember playing Wolfenstein 3-D, one of id's early hits, on my parents' 25 Mhz Mac, reading about the gods of the gaming world like Thresh, and vainly attempting to understand gaming engines (they're complicated). I loved the stories of Carmack disappearing to a hotel in another town fueled by Diet Coke and Pizza and coming back a week later with huge leaps forward in gaming technology.

By the end of the bo
...more
Kala Rose
I'm not a hardcore gamer, I haven't played Doom, and I don't enjoy playing gory video games (unless you count Skyrim, which I mostly explore and indulge in the ambiance). So, why did I read Masters of Doom? Well, initially, I was drawn to the stories of the two Johns, particularly, how they overcame their screwed up childhoods and achieved something so revolutionary. While reading, I was pleased to discover a well-researched account of their personal stories and I found the dynamics of the Johns ...more
Troy Blackford
A fascinating look at how the 'Two Johns,' Carmack and Romero, came together to be pioneers of PC gaming, leading to breakthroughs in PC-based sidescrollers (Commander Keen) and 3D PC gaming (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake). As much a tale of startup business gone amuck as it is of software creation and domination, there's a lot here for people of all types to enjoy. If you're like me, remembering your first computer (386 SX with 20 Mhz, a 80 MB hard drive, and a CD-ROM drive with a plastic caddy), ...more
Jim
For anyone, like me, caught up in Doom, Quake and the beginnings of the internet age, such as it was, this was a great read. Two main characters, different, but both driven in their own ways and visions, formed the nucleus of the account. I found the dynamics of the business interesting largely because it doesn't matter if you're making games or cheese, the issues are still broadly the same. Make, market, sell. Your routes to market may be different, but get it to the market you increasingly hav ...more
Vlad Vinogradsky
The most fun book I've read in a while!
Mark Sanchez
There aren't many specific details from this book that I want to remember.

The dynamic between the two John's and the employer at which they met is interesting: the stealing the computers at night, working on company time, releasing a game behind his back, after all that being offered a deal by their old employer to finance their new company (he must have seen they were going places), and him having to take back that offer because of his other employees.

The fact that that the games were written
...more
Fred
holy shit i am a nerd. i read this really damn quick. i cannot believe i did not read this book years earlier.

it is a narrative full of computer game geek celebrities who i have followed and read about for too much of my life. and though i have liked id's games, i was never the biggest fan. but, their games and tech provided the wellspring for a whole bunch of non-id gaming stuff that was indebted to them and that i was obsessed with: duke nukem 3d, unreal tournament, shugashack (now shacknews)
...more
Jared MacCleary
This is a very interesting book for those into gaming, computers, or who were kids in the early 90s. I was never much of a gamer myself, but I do remember playing Wolfenstein 3D and Doom as a kid in the early 90s with friends, and it was very interesting to hearing the behind-the-game story about the creation of these games in this book. I think the book would also interest those who are interested in how businesses are created, especially tech businesses. I found it fascinating that just a hand ...more
Andrew
I had low expectations for this book. How could the story of the creation of a blocky first-person shooter that came out only two months after my birth be interesting? By today's standard, this game was so simple. I expected this to be a boring and unrelatable story, but I decided to give it a shot. I couldn't have been more wrong. I loved this book!

Kushner does an excellent job painting a pictures of the characters involved in the making of Doom and Quake. The story of their rise to glory and t
...more
Brian Clegg
I was delighted when someone pointed out the book Masters of Doom. It's not a new title, dating back to 2003, but it covers a period that anyone of a certain age with an interest in computer games will regard with interest.

Describing the rise and fall of the two creators of id software, John Carmack and John Romero, it is a classic silicon valley business/bio - with some particularly extreme characters. I knew nothing of these people at the time, but reading the book brought on waves of nostalgi
...more
Philip
Hewlett and Packard. Jobs and Wozniak. Gates and Ballmer. High-tech success stories often revolve around a notable duo, and in the computer game industry, there is no more better-known story than that of id Software, creator of the Doom and Quake series of first-person shooters, and id’s original two principals, John Carmack and John Romero.

In Masters of Doom: The True Story of How Two Guys Created a Video Game Empire, Transformed Pop Culture, and Unleashed Doom, David Kushner chronicles the ris
...more
Richard
I absolutely loved this book, however I am biased as I grew up playing Doom and Quake and I witnessed the birth and evolution of online gaming.

David Kushner has done a great job of digging up and presenting all of the information on how id Software came to be and it's inevitable split between its founders. Reliving these memories and nodding my head along with some of the events that had happened was a big part of the joy for me.

My only gripe with the book would be the introduction of people to
...more
Diego
I think that anybody who like me, have grown up with Doom and Quake, have seen growing the beginning of mod communities, have a passion for programming games in small teams, and a deep interest in the video game industry, will feel that this is close to the perfect book, for what it's trying to achieve.

I don't really know if everybody else will feel anything reading about boxes of pizzas accumulating and spending the night programming at a lake house, blasting heavy metal while creating games, b
...more
Nathan Glenn
Jun 08, 2014 Nathan Glenn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tory
This book was amazing, and I ended up reading it in maybe 3-4 sittings, which is usually difficult for me. The book is a non-fiction account of the lives of the Two Johns, John Romero and John Carmack, legendary game writers. Carmack probably has some form of aspbergers, and in return for much strained social interaction he has god-like focus power, enabling him to hack hard on new graphics technology. He believes in FOSS and releases his game engines under GPL. Romero, meanwhile, is a hard-core ...more
Jm Wedge
This book was an excellent read. It focuses on the politics and relationships between many of the players behind id Software while putting it in historical context. The book seems to be slightly biased towards John Carmack only because he is the one who seems to have left the 90s unscathed. The book is slightly dated given that it was written in 2003 before Doom 3 came out and it also seems to overlook the profound impact that id tech 3 (Quake 3 engine) had on computer gaming. It was the engine ...more
Sheila DeChantal


Note: You do not have to be a gamer to enjoy this read,Masters Of Doom is a story of friendship and living the dream of success and feeling the deep cutting pain of success as well. Do not judge this book by its topic. You will do yourself a disservice.~Sheila

Masters Of DOOM was an incredible listen. I am not a big gamer, I did play some games as a kid but I was never hard core and never played DOOM or Quest (nothing bloody for me thanks), two of the games designed through this team. I do howev
...more
Joshua Schirmer
A fascinating, if sloppy, history into the warring Lennon-and-McCartney personalities that shaped a medium, MASTERS OF DOOM remains one of the few comprehensive narratives of the gaming industry and its sociological impact in print. Although the material is now ten years out-of-date -- at the close of the text, John Carmack and his id Software compatriots are still slaving away on Doom 3, while John Romero is still reeling from the folding of Ion Storm and the failure of Daikatana -- the portrai ...more
Roman Pichlík
I was like being back in time while reading this book. I remember when i saw Doom first time, it was during my first class at high school. Me and my classmates wanted only one thing, spent couple of hours at a class room by playing this game. If you have similar memories or have you played Doom, this book is a must read for you. This is story about Carmack and Romero on their journey to making kick-ass games.
Keith
On its own, the story of Romero and Carmack is fascinating. Kushner did a great job of staying out of the way and telling the story as it is, keeping it simple and succinct. The level of research Kushner must have put into it is impressive.

I read this book and immediately regretted that I hadn't read it sooner. If you care at all about the stories behind the technological breakthroughs that led gaming to what it is today, you should read it./

Be warned, however, that this book is littered with in
...more
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David Kushner is an award-winning journalist and author. He is a contributing editor of Wired, Rolling Stone, and Spectrum and is an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.
More about David Kushner...
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“In the information age, the barriers just aren’t there,” he said. “The barriers are self-imposed. If you want to set off and go develop some grand new thing, you don’t need millions of dollars of capitalization. You need enough pizza and Diet Coke to stick in your refrigerator, a cheap PC to work on, and the dedication to go through with it. We slept on floors. We waded across rivers.” 6 likes
“Carmack was of the moment. His ruling force was focus. Time existed for him not in some promising future or sentimental past but in the present condition, the intricate web ol problems and solutions, imagination and code. He kept nothing from the past–no pictures, no records, no games, no computer disks. He didn’t even save copies of his first games, Wraith and Shadowforge. There was no yearbook to remind of his time at Shadowforge. There was no yearbook to remind of his time at school, no magazine copies of his early publications. He kept nothing but what he needed at the time. His bedroom consisted of a lamp, a pillow, a blanket, and a stack of books. There was no mattress. All he brought with him from home was a cat named Mitzi (a gift from his stepfamily) with a mean streak and a reckless bladder.” 2 likes
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