Masters of Doom – An Audio Book Review

Masters of Doom, David KushnerTitle: Masters of Doom
Author: David Kushner
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Length: 12 hours, 46 minutes

If you know anyone who plays video games and is over the age of 25, there’s a good chance they spent a lot of the 1990s playing the now-legendary video game Doom. And even if a significant part of your life in the 90’s wasn’t consumed by playing Doom, we still highly recommend you listen to the Masters of Doom audio book, which launches today exclusively through

David Kushner writes the incredible true story of the pair who have been called the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. What started out as the perfect collaboration ended with them turning their backs on each other due to the enormous pressures that come with success. But in between, these two geniuses created some of the most popular video games ever, transforming popular culture, provoking national controversy, and revolutionizing the video game industry.

On the surface, Masters of Doom takes a historical look at early PC gaming, but at the core of this book is one of the video game industry’s greatest stories. Kushner – a veteran in video game industry journalism – pieces together his own inside information with hundreds of interviews he conducted over the years and turned it into a makeshift biography of “the Two Johns.” Both of their stories begin with their escape from broken homes, less-than-ideal parenting and overexposure to pop culture, which is ultimately how they both discovered their love for video games. Kushner then takes you through their fateful meeting as coworkers at SoftDisk, the rise of their legendary company id Software, and their inevitable demise.

Luckily for gamers everywhere, before their toxic partnership ended, Carmack and Romero essentially invented and then re-invented the wildly popular genre of ”first-person shooter” games with titles like Wolfenstein 3-D, Doom, and Quake. Their games existed in brilliantly crafted fantasy worlds which were unlike anything anyone had ever seen before in the industry – and certainly much more violent and shocking. Each game brought players further into a new realm of virtual world innovation, and in the process changed the industry forever.

Kushner gives an in-depth look into this pair of complementary opposites, describing Carmack as the “rocket scientist”, a coding prodigy and self-taught programmer who was obsessive and antisocial and Romero as the “rock star” gamer and design mastermind. Their strengths and talents meshed perfectly, with Carmack’s programming genius allowing Romero’s creative genius to run wild, and vice versa.

The fantastic Wil Wheaton performs the audio book narration for Masters of Doom and without a doubt, he is the perfect choice. Wheaton is a serious gamer himself who has no problem embracing his inner geek so it’s no surprise that you can hear Wheaton’s excitement, enthusiasm and intensity throughout the entire audio book.

This audio book is as addictive as Doom. It sparks nostalgic flashbacks and provides tons of interesting information into the relationship between the developers as well as into the video gaming industry. But above all else, this is a powerful look at what it’s like to be young, driven and incredibly brilliant.

Listen to the Masters of Doom audio book (for free!) here.

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