Masters of Doom' is the true inside story of John Carmack and John Romero, co-creators of the most innovative and notoriously successful video games in history - Doom and Quake.
David Kushner has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Wired, Rolling Stone (where he writes a digital music column) and Spin (where he is a contributing editor). He has also worked as a senior producer for the music website SonicNet.
Mentioned only briefly in Van Burnham's Supercade: A Visual History of the Video Game Age, 1971-1984 and Steven Kent's The Ultimate History of Video Games, John Carmack and John Romero, originators of the world-famous video games Doom and Quake, garner an entire work here. Freelance journalist Kushner tells the story of two creative geniuses whose meteoric rise to fame and fortune in the 1990s resulted in enormous personal tensions that eventually drove them apart. In the wake of their success and subsequent corruption, they left a blueprint for the video games of today whose violence at once seduces and enrages us. Carmack and Romero introduced into video games the concept of "first-person shooters," which, years later, prompted a number of multimillion-dollar lawsuits over the influence that games like Doom had on the teenage gunslingers in the Columbine and Paducah tragedies; those suits were eventually thrown out. This is an especially fascinating read for longtime gamers who grew up in the 1980s initially enraptured by Asteroids and continued as devout players during the incredible evolution of realism in action-based video games. It will also intrigue followers of popular culture in general. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Joe J. Accardi, Harper Coll. Lib., Palatine, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
'Masters of Doom is an impressive and adroit social history.' New York Times Book Review
Adult/High School-John Romero and John Carmack started programming games as teens. After they met, they became the first to make a video game on the PC that scrolled smoothly. In their 20s, they went on to create the hugely popular and controversial video games Doom, Wolfenstein 3-D, and Quake. But the passions that drove them to stay up late night after night, living on pizza and Cokes, drove them apart, causing Romero to leave to form his own company. The book traces their successes and failures, giving some insight into what it means to be a video-game designer, and is liberally sprinkled with humor, much of it from the twisted minds of the programmer/gamers themselves. Readers may not find the individuals likable, but they will be fascinated by watching what happens to them. While much of the story takes place in the '90s, the book continues on into the 21st century, where Carmack's Quake 3 is still heavily played and Romero's Daikatana has become one of the most hyped failures in video-game history. The company the young men founded, id Software, continues to be a force in gaming. Both video-game players and budding venture capitalists will find something entertaining and educational here.-Paul Brink, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Long before Grand Theft Auto swept the video gaming world, whiz kids John Romero and John Carmack were shaking things up with their influential-and sometimes controversial-video game creations. The two post-adolescents meet at a small Louisiana tech company in the mid-1980s and begin honing their gaming skills. Carmack is the obsessive and antisocial genius with the programming chops; Romero the goofy and idea-inspired gamer. They and their company, id, innovate both technologically and financially, finding ways to give a PC game "side-scrolling," which allows players to feel like action is happening beyond the screen, and deciding to release games as shareware, giving some levels away gratis and enticing gamers to pay for the rest. All-nighters filled with pizza, slavish work and scatological humor eventually add up to a cultural sea change, where the games obsess the players almost as much as they obsess their creators. Fortunately, journalist Kushner glosses over Carmack and Romero's fame, preferring to describe the particulars of video game creation. There are the high-tech improvements-e.g., "diminished lighting" and "texture-mapping"-and pop cultural challenges, as when the two create an update of the Nazi-themed shooter Castle Wolfenstein. The author gives his subjects much leeway on the violence question, and his thoroughness results in some superfluous details. But if the narration is sometimes dry, the story rarely is; readers can almost feel Carmack and Romero's thrill as they create, particularly when they're working on their magnum opus, Doom. After finishing the book, readers may come away feeling like they've just played a round of Doom themselves, as, squinting and light-headed, they attempt to re-enter the world. (May 13) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.