Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture” as Want to Read:
Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  11,116 ratings  ·  843 reviews
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 produce the most notoriously succ ...more
Paperback, 339 pages
Published May 11th 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Masters of Doom, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Samih Omer Late to answer but no. Unless your 14 years old is really into retro gaming or the begging of the compute/PC age.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,116 ratings  ·  843 reviews

Sort order
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
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
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.

Full Review
Jul 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Dos protagonistas, unas personalidades y habilidades complementarias, un pequeño grupo a su alrededor, los duros inicios, el éxito juego a juego, las tensiones crecientes, los roces, la explosión... Ya porque fuera fácil o porque consigue hacerlo fácil, el relato de Kushner sobre cómo unos don nadies dieron la vuelta a la industria de los videojuegos e impulsaron un fenómeno social cotidiano hoy en día resulta modélico, tanto en la estructura como en el retrato de las personas y el discurso de s ...more
Apr 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, non-fiction, own
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
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historia
Los 90 son probablemente la época de mi vida en que más he jugado a videojuegos, básicamente en el PC. Así que este libro ha supuesto un disfrute por partida doble: por un lado la historia de este grupo de programadores, jugones hasta la médula, dedicados a crear un juego como nunca antes se había visto. Y por otro la historia de la consolidación de la industria de videojuegos, exclamando continuamente "¡Sí, yo a este también jugué!"

Todo una delicia para los que robamos horas de sueño (y estudio
Mark Sanchez
May 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Jury Razumau
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
“Pizza” is mentioned 39 times. “Render” and “polygon” combined for 19. Would you read a book about Beethoven that only mentions how great were his symphonies and how everyone loved them without ever talking about what exactly made them great (and probably not even discussing Fidelio’s plot)? So what exactly were Carmack’s innovations in game engines? Oh, he was very smart and worked a lot; now let’s talk instead about his Ferrari (have I already mentioned that his office was full of pizza boxes? ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though people felt like they were working without direction, at the same time no one wanted really to be told what to do.

Steve Jobs a Steve Wozniak. John Romero a John Carmack. Je až neuvěřitelné, jak moc se příběhy těchto dvou dvojic shodují. V obou případech povahově zcela odlišní géniové, kteří se nejprve přes problematické dospívání dají „v garáži“ osudově dohromady, dlouho se nebývale doplňují jako jing a jang, přetvoří tak své odvětví od základů a vydělají při tom milióny/miliardy, aby pos
Egor Mikhaylov
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
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Brad Feld
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible origin story of id Software

I love origin stories. Many are shallow or overly dramatic in an effort to tell a story rather than capture the essence of what happened and why it was so important. This one totally nailed it.
Sreejith Pp
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As someone who used to play a ton of video games and who got into programming making or hacking them, this was an enjoyable, nostalgic experience. Written in dramatic fashion, yet technically not too demanding, this book takes you through the evolution of pc gaming, the rise of an entire sub-culture, and the molding of art, bleeding-edge tech, and storytelling in the birth of doom. It's the story of 2 immensely talented people, their successes, and the differences that ripped them apart amidst t ...more
Willian Molinari
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, computers
I love this book. The two Johns created an empire by using the engineering capabilities of Carmack with the enthusiasm and ideas of Romero.

There are some other thoughts to put on this book. The two Johns are doing great and creating amazing games following the startup way of life, relying on junk food and diet coke. Everything was balanced, they had a committed engineer that are addicted to create new things and pursue really hard challenges. But they also had a good game designer that are eager
Mindaugas Mozūras
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'll someday definitely reread Masters of Doom again. The story of the two Johns is just an interesting as the story of the two Steves (Jobs and Wozniak). For me, as a software developer, Carmack is the more fascinating and inspiring of the two. Not only have I played games made by him, but I've watched multiple talks he did. He's a geek's geek.
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and inspiring book on the ups and downs of the geniuses and the different personalities behind the game. The team dynamics and issues with the development cycle, the conflicts between business and development, they are all real.

I would definitely recommend this read to any developers, not just game developers. It's a fun and addictive read :)
Maurício Linhares
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Did you know Doom was one of the main instruments for the resurrection of the PC gaming industry? Now you do!

How Carmack and Romero (the two Johns) came together and founded one of the most influential gaming companies and built not only genres and movements, but a whole market, is an amazing tale of the beginnings of what we have in games today. From their start with the side scroller Commander Keen (building the very first side scroller on computers) after copying Mario and trying to convince
Apr 21, 2013 rated it liked it
I decided to read this book based on seeing its title on the library shelves. Like many (most?) gamers of a certain age, I grew up with games from id software and its various offshoots, but until reading Masters of Doom, I hadn't realized how completely they had dominated my gaming background. Commander Keen; Duke Nukem (the side-scrolling platformer, not the FPS); the various Epic Megagames games like Solar Winds, Jill of the Jungle, ZZT, Dare to Dream, Ken's Labyrinth, and One Must Fall 2097; ...more
Great insight into game development

I liked the book for its content, which is a detailed history of id software. It was fascinating to have a glimpse into what was it like for people who created games of my childhood. Also you get to learn a bit how things work in game dev world.

I'm not a fan of style - it gets old after awhile. 5 stars for content, 2 for delivery.
Samuel Salzer
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, biography
A great biography which provides a wonderful tour of the early years of computer/video games. In a world where people worry about patents and intellectual property, it is liberating to hear about two guys who only cared about creating cool things. All they wanted was to create great games that they wish existed (plus eating pizza and someday driving Ferrari's). Spoiler alert: They did plenty of all three.
Peter Brichs
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Historien om, hvordan I software blev til - historien om de 2 x John; Romero og Carmack. Om deres venskab, og om hvordan de blev uvenner...og alt derimellem.

En rigtig velfortalt biografi af mændene bag DOOM, Commander Keen, Quake, Daikatana og teknologierne bag. Klart et læs værd, for alle, der er glade for computerspil.
Brunno Santos
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finalmente entendi o porque vários dos meus amigos gostam tanto do John Carmack! Eu não cresci jogando Doom ou Quake, apesar de conhecer esses jogos, eu era mais uma criança dos video games do que do PC, mas hoje, depois de ler esse livro, entendi de verdade o que foi a revolução que os dois Johns fizeram na industria dos games!

Esse livro é altamente recomendado para qualquer um que tenha um mínimo de interesse sobre a historia dos games! Indispensável!
Bob Mackey
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up because I was producing an episode of my podcast (Retronauts) about Doom, and I definitely wasn't disappointed. I've read a few too many video game books for a mass-market audience that talk down to the reader, but Masters of Doom mostly avoids that. (Though it does contain an obligatory 20-page history of video games to give things some context.) And while Masters of Doom does dip into technical details from time to time, it's mostly a personality-driven book, one that does a g ...more
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Perry Gough
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had been waiting to read this since I heard this book existed.

Masters of Doom tells the story of John Romero and John Carmack the main two guys responible for creating Doom the grandaddy of all First Person Shooters. How they put together a small team of highly talent Game Designers and the controvesy that the game caused.

Some of the facts I already knew but there is alot here that I had no clue about and found very interesting. This book is essientially 'The Social Network' of video game book
Charles Collard
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I both love and hate this book. Not the author's fault, it's extremely well written with great details.

I guess any really well documented history is this way. both the wonderful and the grungy ugliness are on full display.

Masters of Doom made me nostalgic about discovering computers and games in the early 80s as well as the wonderful wild-west environment and camaraderie of working at start-up companies in the 90s. The combination of the two: after-work LAN parties playing doom, quake, MOHAA wit
Andrew Scarella
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book a lot more than I thought I was going to. I grew up playing computer games in the 90's and enjoyed hearing the "behind-the-scenes" stories of how some of my favorite games were made. My only complaint was an abrupt ending, I wanted to read more about Carmack and Romero and what they are up to now. Are they friends? Do they work together at all? If you played any video game in the 1990's, you will thoroughly enjoy this book.
Margaret Sankey
Nov 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Kushner reconstructs the fateful meeting of John Romero and John Carmack, which, in the early 90s world of shareware, personal computing and nascent home dial up, resulted in Doom, in which powerful graphics engines and the ability to play against other networked players revolutionized the gaming industry. Like so many other stories of revolutionaries, this is also the trajectory of visionaries having no idea how to run a business or manage other people.
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book captures splendidly the wild frontier of entertainment software in mid-eighties. Also rightly cements Carmack's position as the game developer genius, and Romero's as the... well, the guy who made Daikatana and gave rise to the 'rock star programmer' stereotype.

Yeah, he's a tool. More on that in the book.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apart from the obvious focus, which Kushner covers, and Wheaton delivers, with the obligatory fanboy attitude, the novel is also an anecdotal history of how the PC became the main platform for video game development and the power that such an accessible platform bestows upon those willing to learn and experiment with it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Ayy This My Test 2 7 Apr 12, 2018 11:17AM  
Other books like this one? 3 33 Apr 08, 2015 06:58AM  
  • The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon - The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World
  • Game Over, Press Start to Continue: How Nintendo Conquered the World
  • The Making of Prince of Persia
  • Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age, 1971-1984
  • Replay: The History of Video Games
  • Show Stopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft
  • Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture
  • Game Feel: A Game Designer's Guide to Virtual Sensation
  • Designing Virtual Worlds
  • Dungeons & Dreamers: A Story of how Computer Games Created a Global Community
  • Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America
  • On the Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore
  • Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
  • Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life
  • Smartbomb: The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution
  • Game Engine Black Book, Wolfenstein 3D
  • Stay Awhile and Listen : How Two Blizzards Unleashed Diablo and Forged a Video-Game Empire

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »
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.
“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.” 13 likes
“He was sentenced to one year in a small juvenile detention home in town. Most of the kids were in for drugs. Carmack was in for an Apple II.” 6 likes
More quotes…