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August 17, 2003

Masters of Doom

The secret to increasing my reading quota is, it seems, getting away from home. I plowed through this book in just the three days we were at the coast. I had no Internet access, wasn't interested in watching television without the remediation of my ReplayTV, and had many idle moments when we weren't walking around Florence, so read I did.

I was in fact fascinated by this book, as I'd never really gotten in on the Doom/Quake phenomenon. It all happened during one of my quieter phases, gaming-wise, and besides, I didn't have an Intel PC during those years. I'm taking away two things from this book.

One, John Romero and John Carmack are both geniuses, but the mid-term success of id was as much survivorship bias as pure sustained innovation. I always got the impression that id was a flawless house of geniuses who never made mistakes. The book shows how far from true this is.

Two, I finally know what 'gib' means in a gamer context. The book refers to victims in Doom exploding, leaving around little bits "like human giblets." This became regular slang, and evolved into a verb. "I gibbed him when he turned the corner."

Now that this is finished, I'm moving on to Bringing Down the House, about a bunch of MIT students who clean up on blackjack.

Posted by dpwakefield at August 17, 2003 07:57 PM