Mstation Book Reviews
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Fri, 30 Jun 2006

Masters of Doom

David Kushner, Masters of Doom,
Random House, Piatkus

This is about the guys that created Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake amongst other games. It's about John Carmack and John Romero and the changing supporting cast in a fluid world. It's also about the history of gaming, through Dungeons and Dragons and early computer games to the arcades and cash cows of later years. It is also very US-centric. There is no mention of contributions from other countries at all other than the occasional Brit (well, I think there was one) who ended up in the USA working in that environment.

It's a great book though. David Kushner is a long time gamer and he assembled the personal sagas of the two main characters from six years of interviews and research. You get to feel the joy of a small team working their guts out to get a game out the door, the pains of political infighting and idea clashes, the triumph of success, and the hollow feelings of things going to hell in a handbasket.

It also deals with the call for censorship (remember, Doom was incredibly violent and gory) and the after-affects of the Columbine massacre. My question is, do parents not have brains anymore? But I guess there are quite a few people that can't and won't take responsibility for anything. They deserve a totalitarian state.

Another thing this book highlights is that games can still be made by small teams and without a king's ransom for a budget ... just stay away from consoles until you've got a hit and the console makers come asking for a port.

In the early days, if you wanted to check up on what John Carmack was up to, you fingered This has now moved to a blog and you can catch it at ... John Romero's site is

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