Masters of Doom

David Kushner

Masters of Doom



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Following 6 years of interviews and research, the author of this book tells the story of the "two Johns", John Romero and John Carmack, and their rise to success as icons of the pop and video game world with their company, Id Software, which evolved from their love for games and their perseverance in following their dreams, even when they seemed unattainable. Masters of Doom retraces the steps of the incredible revolution within the entertainment industry, while still touching on the subsequent social and cultural implications.

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Analysis and key concepts


People’s passion and talents should always be left unbridled, no matter how uncertain the career opportunities may seem, or unlikely the chances of success


Having a PC at home in the 80s was not a common occurrence, and the idea that it could be used to play games was even more unusual


Finding the right channel to launch an innovative idea can be very complex, especially if the time is not yet ripe to fully understand its scope


Id Software was created on the coattails of ​​a marketing model that had never been applied to video games until then: shareware


The infinite worlds of virtual reality: the evolution of programming techniques has made it possible to create increasingly convincing virtual environments


The release of Doom, and the spread of video games, profoundly changed mass culture and the world of entertainment, giving life to a real subculture


Among id’s most innovative and economically winning ideas was that of catering to hackers and programmers by creating editable and customisable games


There has been extensive social and political debate linked to the effects of the mass diffusion of video games, but no consensus of response, as of yet


Every entrepreneurial project will sink without a clear vision and a solid organisational structure, irrespective of how talented the creators may be


The collaboration between the iconic John Romero and John Carmack, personalities as distant as they are complementary, has left an indelible mark on mass culture




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Learn about the life of the two iconic programmers, Carmack and Romero, their company, and the secret to their success.
  • Relive the 90s through the lens of the underground video game world.
  • Understand the potential of shareware and the origins of viral marketing.

Born in 1968, David Kushner lives in New York, and has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Wired. He has also had experience in writing and producing in the music and film industries. Masters of Doom is his first non-fiction book, inspired by his passion for video games. When he was still a child, his brother was kidnapped, and Kushner wrote about this tragic story in his autobiography, Alligator Candy, which was released in 2006, and also led to the making of a podcast.

Publishing house:

Random House