Chapter 2
John Romero,
Architect of Doom
Interviewing John Romero is like asking forty questions of a hurricane. At forty-ve,
Romero still has the energy, enthusiasm, speed, and desire to blow things up as of a
sixteen year old. Even at crowded Game Developer Conferences, he’s easy to spot,
zooming from booth to booth and surrounded by a crush of adoring fans eager for
autographs, insights, or perhaps a lock of his famous mane of hair. Anyone who doesnt
know his work can be brought around quickly enough: “What? You dont know? ats
the guy who did Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein 3D! Duh!” at’s right. John Romero is
one of the core members of id Soware, the tiny company that single-handedly intro-
duced the world to the rst-person shooter. But more than anything else, he’s the rock
star of the gaming industry. Unlike the vast majority of developers—including his fellow
id founder John Carmack, who seem to shun attention and personal publicity—Romero
revels in the spotlight, thoroughly at home in a big crowd of fans. He stands out in this
oen quiet and reserved profession, always dressed in stylish clothes that probably cost
more than my car—and a hairstyle that wouldn’t look out of place on a the cover of a
romance novel (see Figure2.1).
I rst met John at a hotel in San Francisco, at the Game Developer Conference of 2009.
My friend Bill Loguidice and I were there to interview developers for a documentary lm,
and Romero was an hour late. Everyone else was ready to call it quits and go home, but I
insisted that we wait. Eventually, John texted to say he was on his way. Another hour later,
he rushed into the room and began talking like a machine gun. Even though none of us
had ever seen him before, he conversed with us like old friends, and when Bill mentioned
some obscure game for the Apple II, Johns eyes lit up like a demon. As much as John loves
the high-tech, cutting-edge stu that denes his own contributions to the industry, his
rst and greatest love will always be the old Apple computers and games played by a few
hundred people—many of whom have long forgotten about them and the teenage hackers
that created them.

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