Masters of Doom

January 9, 2004

Published by Random House
Written by David Kushner.
352 pages; $24.95; black and white pages with hardbound cover

John Romero is a jerk. If you’ve been paying attention to gaming related headlines for the past few years or so, you’re undoubtedly well aware of this. However, I assert that it bears repeating. Romero is an asshole, a bum with big talk but no action. And that’s the lesson that I learned (in spades) from Masters of Doom.

MOD is a biography of John Romero and John Carmack, two of the guys who helped to found id software. They, as part of id, were involved in the creation of the classic (and genre forming) first person shooters Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. The book details their early childhoods and meeting at a company called Softdisk. From there, through the shareware days and into the present, the book details their pull and shove form of collaboration. Following the id breakup, it goes into a *great* deal of detail about the horrors of Ion Storm and the laughingstock that was Daikatana.

While I enjoyed hearing about Carmack’s thought processes and Romero’s fiery orbital reentry, Masters of Doom was hard to read. The author’s style was all over the place, and several of the other people who had a major role in the legacy of id were brushed over outlines of people. Other, much less important people (an old gaming buddy, for example) were described in detail. In all I felt that the book was somewhat confused.

Additionally, most of the information that was interesting in the book has been covered on major news sites and is available for free online. Go look up the early years of Ion Storm somewhere. Then think “Romero is a tard!”. That will give you a good feel for the read of Masters of Doom, and won’t cost you 25 bucks.

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