Sunday, March 21, 2004

Masters of Doom... 

Just finished reading the book and wow was it good! I grew up on Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, some Quake and even played a bit of Commander Keen, so learning the behind the scenes story was really interesting to me. I was also out of the gaming scene for many years, so it was interesting to hear about stuff like Quake II and Arena, Diakatana (which I heard vague things about but wasn't really paying attention), Half-Life, etc.

But beyond nostagia and my newfound fps playing, this is just a great book. The two Johns are fascinating people, as well as all other characters involved. It flows so well and delves so much into person things that you might start to wonder if the author (Dave Kushner) is making stuff up. But at the end of the book proves to the contrary. He lists all the people he interviewed personally, which is like 80+ names. He was present at a couple of events. He has a standard bibliography of books referenced. But then he goes even further. He does like a page by page reference thing listing what was from someone's personal stuff, what was from an article, what was from usenet, what stuff he witnessed etc. And even for seemingly throwaway comments like Columbine kid's mods were amateurish, he confirms that he downloaded and played those mods himself. He even has a full index at the back so you can browse directly to Carmack, John: Stubborness Of on page 111. He even talks about the font used in the book.

There's a lot of good facts and realistic portraits (warts in all), but also not trying to demonize people, and a lot of things told from multiple perspectives but not just word-for-word interviews either. Even if you've never played any of these games before, I think it is a very fascinating story, and also gives some good perspective to where things are now. As Kushner mentioned, there hasn't been nearly enough documentation on something that has become a huge industry and tightly woven into our culture. I love reading the history of popular culture like video games and comic books. It is a lot more important than most people give credit, and it is so easy for history to vanish if no one is paying attention.

So.. read this book! :)

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