Last Token Gaming Book Review – Masters of DOOM (2003)

By Jake Rushing


Remember how the gaming scene was in the 90s when Doom was the talk of the gaming community? Have you ever been curious to gain insight behind the scenes of the upbringing of John Romero, John Carmack and the id Software that they brought and what followed? If your answer to that previous question is “yes,” Masters of Doom would be the perfect book to pick up and read. This biographical novel takes place in the 90s, where Super Nintendo and Genesis are in a war of console superiority while dial up internet makes its way into homes via AOL trail disks. And online gaming wasn’t even popularized yet.

Can you imagine a time before this?

Can you imagine a time before this?

David Kushner manages to bring the narrative of the upbringing of John Romero and John Carmack to life. The book also delves into the details of each event of their story together, from how they met through what happened after Romero and Carmack parted ways. The author manages to build a window through which the reader can peek into what happened at id Software, as innovation was being created to propel DOOM to the astronomical level of popularity it maintains to this day. The novel also talks about the effect this game had on pop culture upon its release, as unfortunate circumstances prevailed that forced the government to slap an ESRB rating on it.

As a kid who spent his 90’s worrying more about playing video games or cowboys and indians than seeing what’s actually happening in the real world, this book managed to capture the public’s initial reaction to the first gory game that was easily accessible. Masters of DOOM also managed to capture the culture that occurred behind closed doors of a game studio. As a guy who has been through the trenches of making games, this part of the story makes me relive my past times working on a grind. Furthermore, it made me want to get back in that grind once more.

If you have ever been curious about what happened with development of id Software games, wanted to gain a passion for game development, or both, then I highly recommended this book. A former mentor of mine who has been in the grind many times before recommended it to me, and I could see why he did after talking about my hiatus in game development. This was the first book that I have read start to finish in a long while that has managed to keep me engaged nonstop. If you’re looking for another book that talks about video games to add to your shelf, then I highly recommend it all the more. Most of all, if you’re looking for a video game book that goes over the behind-the-scenes of video game development, then you should pick the book up on Amazon immediately!

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