It’s 2004. A kid I know through local LAN parties convinced his workplace, a computer repair shop, to rent out the warehouse next door for a giant LAN gaming event. I’m playing Counter-Strike, or some other violent shooter, when one of the repair shop owners sees my screen and says, “Oh, it’s like Doom.” I smirk to myself and think how completely out of touch this man is, especially since Doom is already over ten years old and first-person shooters are everywhere. Even consoles, like the Nintendo 64, have their fair share of shooters, from Turok: Dinosaur Hunter to everyone’s favorite, GoldenEye 007. Heck, Halo: Combat Evolved has been out for three years by that point, so, to me (a smug, condescending 18-year-old), comparing Counter-Strike to Doom was ignorant and naive.
It has been over ten years later and I just read David Kushner’s biography of Doom’s creators, Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture. Kushner tells the story of “the two Johns”, John Romero and John Carmack. The book begins with the upbringings of the two boys and how they eventually met. It’s the classic tale of two hacker misfits finding a constructive way to use their talents.
While the story sticks pretty closely to these two “characters” and the companies they created, the most fascinating thing—especially to the teenager who scoffed at someone for mentioning Doom in 2004—is how influential these men were. And it wasn’t just the games they created, but the games that existed because of them.