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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

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Merrill 12-08-13
    Merrill 12-08-13
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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 Member Since 2015
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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
  •  
    David Chesapeake, VA, United States 11-28-13
    David Chesapeake, VA, United States 11-28-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Entertaining"

    Interesting story of several very gifted young video game creators. Perhaps not for everyone but as a daily special, not bad. If you are a gamer, it may be more meaningful. I am not.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan GARDEN GROVE, CA, United States 11-01-13
    Ryan GARDEN GROVE, CA, United States 11-01-13
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    "Amazing Journey"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Masters of Doom to be better than the print version?

    Wow! What a story! I was sadden for it to end after a 13hr marathon. If you have any interest in a story about the "American dream" come to fruition, or the dawn of the videogame age, this is it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Romero and Carmack. Truly inspiring individuals.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The whole journey.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Inspiration, dedication, and true American grit.


    Any additional comments?

    Treat yourself to a masterpiece.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 09-30-13
    Sam Motes Tampa 09-30-13 Listener Since 2009

    Audible obsessed lifelong learner.

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    "Egos, junk food, hacking and gaming"

    Captures the insanity of the hacker and gammer worlds that collided to build ID and the first shooter phenomenon. The insane hours and world size egos broke the barriers to deliver a whole new world, insane riches, and also tore apart the working relationships and friendships along the way. A nice nostalgic walk down gaming history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kurt Zentmaier Claremont, NH 09-09-13
    Kurt Zentmaier Claremont, NH 09-09-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Must read for anyone involved w/80s gaming culture"
    Would you listen to Masters of Doom again? Why?

    A must read for anyone who was involved with or interested in the early gaming culture of the 70s and 80s.and very early 90s Brings back great memories of the old Apple II games and other early PC favorites. Author gets in on the inside track of game development at soft disk, ID and other gaming pioneers of the time. Very nostalgic and enjoyable.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Micky G Keck Cincinnati 08-16-13
    Micky G Keck Cincinnati 08-16-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Gamer history, a good combination"
    What did you love best about Masters of Doom?

    The history and unique characters that made up Id Software. I always assumed it was a much bigger company than what it was. Getting to know the quirks of the key players in FPS history was really interesting.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Learning how eccentric the programmers at Id were. Quite interesting how only a few people so heavily impacted the genre.


    Have you listened to any of Wil Wheaton’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I've listened to a lot of Wil's work, he tends to read books that are of interest to me. His performance on Masters of Doom was quite good. I could really feel his excitement with what was written and his passion for gaming in general.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Moving? no, but Carmack's blunt force focus was amusing.


    Any additional comments?

    If you love playing video games, or once played a lot of video games, this is a book for you. If not, it probably won't make a lot of sense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Patterson Calgary, AB Canada 08-09-13
    Robert Patterson Calgary, AB Canada 08-09-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Truly interesting stuff!"

    This book was exceptional. The story was unexpectedly compelling; it seamed to have just the right mix of technology and society. Narration was bang on!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Seth H. Wilson Venice, CA USA 07-15-13
    Seth H. Wilson Venice, CA USA 07-15-13 Member Since 2013
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    "The very human story behind a revolutionary phenom"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Masters of Doom to be better than the print version?

    Not having read the print edition, I can't comment on this question. Certainly Wil Wheaton does an excellent job of narrating the audio version. In fact I think his exuberant performance actually adds a lot to the already-strong narrative.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    It's difficult to think of "characters" in a work of non-fiction, but my favorite personality in the book would have to be the quiet, intense, and brilliant John Carmack, the programming brains behind Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, the "yang" to colleague John Romero's in-your-face outgoing "yin".


    Which character – as performed by Wil Wheaton – was your favorite?

    Wil Wheaton's laconic portrayal of John Carmack's speech perfectly captures the personality of a man so focused on his work programming that even the slightest speech feels like an unnecessary burden to him.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    This book would make a fantastic documentary. Interviews with the principal personalities, interspersed with gameplay footage and solid narration, perhaps again by Wil Wheaton, would bring this engaging true story of creativity and conflict to a greater audience. The best tagline I can come up with is "First they unleashed DOOM on the world. Then, they unleashed it on each other." I know, not very good, but you did ask.


    Any additional comments?

    I grew up playing Shareware DOS games on my 486 PC. Masters of Doom perfectly captures the flavor of early computer gamer culture, a culture of shared excitement, discovery, and innovation. Reading the human story behind some of my favorite games--Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, and Doom--at times brought a little shiver to my inner gamer kid.The pacing of the book, insofar as there can be pacing in a work of non-fiction, flags near the end of the book, once Doom is released and the Id software team begins to fall apart. The spontaneous sparks of creative genius that characterize the audiobook's early hours give way to a string of petty interoffice conflicts that become rather tedious, although I do recognize they're important to the story the author is trying to tell.One thing to note is that the print version of this book was released several years ago, so don't be surprised that the book's ending doesn't bring the listener up-to-date with the main characters' lives as one would expect.If you've ever whooped with glee as you blew up a Cacodemon with a rocket launcher, then this book is definitely for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ooopsie! WEST NEW YORK, NJ, United States 03-24-13
    Ooopsie! WEST NEW YORK, NJ, United States 03-24-13 Member Since 2011

    I just follow the signs!

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    "Excellent listen !"

    Great book. Excellent performance. I highly recommend this book. Shows a side of the gamers and gamer passion that is rarely seen by the public.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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