Book review: Masters Of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture

Did you ever wonder what happened at id Software when they created their famous first games? This book sheds a novelized light on the life in id Software and the main characters that made happened, focused on the relationship between the two Johns.


The book starts very quickly by showing the life of John Romero and then John Carmack during their childhood. We then see very efficiently how the team met and started their path together. It’s very surprising to see how they behaved, because I think this would not fly in our society with the IP always belonging to the parent company and not the developers. But at the time, it worked and we see how much they contributed to all the first shoot’hem up.

I was very eager to see all the steps that the Johns took to achieve their goal. The atmosphere in the team also makes sense when you see how the other games that gravitated around appeared. For instance when I saw the mention of Hex, I was “Oh yes, I remember that! Amazing!”. It also plays very well in the current “crunch” atmosphere when a game is near completion, as this started when games began, basically. It’s not an old problem, but the problem had a different frame when all the developers were young single guys that wanted to get rich and famous. It’s now completely different, people expect a difference balance.

The falling off between the two Johns is clear in the book with their different personality, and we see why they were so close, but also why they drifted apart and why their relationship is now how it is (not great). And now I also understand why Doom’s story doesn’t make any sense 😀


As for all the novelized true stories, I’m not sure the part of truth that the book has. There are some scenes where obviously only the two Johns could have told them and I don’t see how any of them would have talked about these scenes. Still, one of the most fun and interesting book on video games and the beginning of 3D.

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