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Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture | [David Kushner]

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

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 successful game franchises in history - Doom and Quake - until the games they made tore them apart. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry.
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Publisher's Summary

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 successful game franchises in history - Doom and Quake - until the games they made tore them apart. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry - a powerful and compassionate account of what it's like to be young, driven, and wildly creative.

©2003 David Kushner (P)2012 Audiobooks.com

What the Critics Say

"Compelling . . . Masters of Doom succeeds on several levels. It's just great storytelling, with perfect pacing, drama and characterization. It's also an excellent business book, a cautionary tale with the kind of insider detail that other writers working in the genre should envy." (Houston Chronicle)

“Kushner’s mesmerizing tale of the Two Johns moves at a rapid clip . . . describing the twists and turns of fate that led them to team up in creating the most powerful video games of their generation. . . . An exciting combination of biography and technology.” (USA Today)

“Meticulously researched . . . as a ticktock of the creative process and as insight into a powerful medium too often dismissed as kids’ stuff, Masters of Doom blasts its way to a high score.” (Entertainment Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Pi STATE COLLEGE, PA, United States 10-29-13
    Pi STATE COLLEGE, PA, United States 10-29-13 Member Since 2011

    Shamelessly geeky; mathematically delicious.

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    "Fascinating story, perfectly told."

    With the break-neck pace that the gaming industry moves, it's amazing that anyone has had the clarity of vision to step back and document the history of this new form of entertainment. In Masters of Doom, Kushner does just that by detailing the careers of two of gaming's earliest superstars, John Carmack and John Romero. The fact that this book even exists is a testament to Kushner's foresight, and the quality of its presentation leaves nothing to be desired.

    There's something fascinating about a creative duo, something magical about the dynamic it creates. Kushner positions the two John's, Romero and Carmack, as that sort of pairing, reminiscent of Jobs and Wozniak of Apple fame. But where Jobs and Woz were the design and engineering halves of the computer revolution, Romero and Carmack were those halves of the PC gaming revolution.

    Kushner takes what could have been a rather boring history of id software and turns it into a real narrative. He shows Romero and Carmack as yin and yang, two parts of a whole. But he also shows them as headstrong individuals who just don't see enough of themselves in their partner. Ultimately, we see the two split ways and compete, seemingly never to achieve the greatness alone that they had together. Along the way there are many recurring themes and characters, all of which Kushner takes great care to point out to the reader.

    It's worth noting how tight of a time frame this book exists in. Masters of Doom was published in 2003. Doom came out in 1993, and Daikatana (the development of which is a focus of the latter half of the book) was released in 2000. 3 years separation from the subject matter is nothing, but reading this book in 2013 still shows it to have significant historical perspective.

    As for the narration, Wil Wheaton is, as always, a fantastic reader for anything and everything geek related. His delivery here is pitch perfect, and it really brings the story to life.

    The only thing I might have wanted was a more recent afterword. I believe the one presented in the book is from the 2004 softcover reprinting. Considering the audiobook was recorded in 2012, and both Carmack and Romero have continued to work in the industry during that time, an extra chapter to bring the book back up to date would have been appreciated. That's a lot to ask from an audio release, however, and I can hardly fault the publishers for merely doing a "great" job with this book, rather than going way above and beyond.

    If you care about gaming, and you enjoy a good biography, Masters of Doom is tough to beat.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daphna Tel Aviv, Israel 09-23-13
    Daphna Tel Aviv, Israel 09-23-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Excellent!!!"

    This is a great listen even if you are not a gamer. Great story and an excellent performance. Highly recommended!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mathias Ska, Sweden 04-29-14
    Mathias Ska, Sweden 04-29-14 Member Since 2013

    mathias2592

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    "Brilliant"

    So good, I wish there was more of it or more books like it. Thought at first that the narrator was overdoing the funny voices, but he won me over in the end. Highly recommended if you have a soft spot for stories from the golden age of programming!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Marshall Santa Barbara, CA United States 04-11-14
    Jim Marshall Santa Barbara, CA United States 04-11-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Excellent insight into the gaming world back then"
    What about Wil Wheaton’s performance did you like?

    To me the narration of a book should allow you to enjoy the book itself and that is what I found here.


    Any additional comments?

    I thought the story was fascinating and there was a good balance with just enough technology for me without turning the book into total geek speak.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Wolfforth, TX, USA 03-30-14
    Michael Wolfforth, TX, USA 03-30-14 Member Since 2005
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    "The roots of gaming today as we know it!"

    This book is a great recollection of the founders of Doom, how it all got started, and how they ended up where they are today. I was interested in this book having grown up during the 80's and actually having a Pong as well as an Atari. It was cool to hear about games that I played on my computer and how they were developed. The book is about how player vs player gaming was developed over the years (along with other single player games) and shows how these guys defined how we play many of the games that are out on the market today. I found the book interesting and it definitely kept my attention to the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer United States 03-15-14
    Amazon Customer United States 03-15-14 Member Since 2009

    Will

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    "The beginnings of a new era in video games"
    What made the experience of listening to Masters of Doom the most enjoyable?

    I grew up playing the games of id Software and I have heard lots about John Carmack, so it was fascinating to hear how they meet, became a company, and made it big.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The author seems to be pretty real about the two John's, the good and the bad.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Flavius Clinton Twp, MI, United States 01-20-14
    Flavius Clinton Twp, MI, United States 01-20-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Addicting, fast paced, and a blast of nostalgia"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Masters of Doom to be better than the print version?

    Haven't read the print version, so I can't say.


    What other book might you compare Masters of Doom to and why?

    Sadly I haven't read enough books to make a one to one comparison, but any book about friendship turning to rivalry would suffice.


    What does Wil Wheaton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Yes, he does an excellent job giving life to the characters and helping you visualize them with lots of details.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was fortunate enough to experience some of the bliss they were sharing over the story, particularly with an exciting breakthrough. I was giddy at times and shared their joy, and at times their frustration.


    Any additional comments?

    Loved this book, one of my favorites and totally worth the time and cost. You won't regret picking this up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Merrill Athens, GA, United States 12-08-13
    Merrill Athens, GA, United States 12-08-13 Member Since 2003
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    "Insight into the 1990s"

    As many others have mentioned, David Kushner tells a great story here and Wil Wheaton is an excellent narrator. If you ever played Doom or Quake or any other computer games in the 1990s, you'll enjoy this book, with its inside look at how a group of young men (and they were almost all men) created a huge cultural industry.

    Kushner concentrates on the two Johns, who were the most colorful and the easiest to write about, probably, but it's clear that Id Software was a group undertaking with many characters involved. Kushner introduces these people, but we don't always get to hear what happened to them. That had me online and googling them after I'd been listening for a while.

    However, for me the most interesting thing was thinking about the story of Id as a way to look at American culture. Kushner does that a little, when he talks about the worries over video games following the Columbine shootings. Seeing the way this mostly disaffected group of introverts, outcasts and rebels pulled together all kinds of cultural ideas floating around in the 1990s to create these games was really interesting to me.

    The line from Doom to Grand Theft Auto becomes more easy to trace once you understand this history, and it's also interesting to watch how John Carmack's hacker ideals of free code and shareware begin to get changed by the influx of a lot of money and access to Ferraris. It's the story of the computer industry overall, really, in the 1990s, and it's illuminating to see this part of it.

    The story can't help but drag a bit in the last third, when the guys are all rich and famous and then split up. But Wil Wheaton makes it worth listening until the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Shingle Springs Dr., CA, United States 12-07-13
    Anthony Shingle Springs Dr., CA, United States 12-07-13
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    "Fun to listen to"

    I enjoyed listening to this story. Thought it was neat because I played many of the games discussed. A good read for a gamer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TM Chicago, IL United States 12-05-13
    TM Chicago, IL United States 12-05-13 Member Since 2012

    TJM

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    "A Great Start-Up Story"
    Any additional comments?

    Whilst I like technology books and books about start-ups, I have little interest in first-person shooter games and have not played the games described in this book more than a handful of times.

    However, the book is so well written and the characters are described in such relatable terms, that I inhaled this audiobook in a couple of days.

    I recommend it. Enjoy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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