Kushner, David 1968-

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KUSHNER, David 1968-


Born 1968. Education: University of Maryland, B.A. (English), 1989; City University of New York, M.A. (creative writing), 1993.


Agent—Mary Ann Naples, The Creative Culture, 2853 Broadway, Suite 1715, New York, NY 10003. E-mail—[email protected].


Journalist and freelance writer. SonicNet.com., senior producer and writer, 1994-96.


Music Online for Dummies, IDG Books Worldwide (Foster City, CA), 2000.

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor of articles to newspapers and magazines, including New York Times, Wired, Rolling Stone, New York, Details, Parade, ESPN, Worth, FHM, Feed, Playboy, Mademoiselle, Salon.com, Entertainment Weekly, Village Voice, Mondo 2000, and Popular Science. Rolling Stone, author of "Digital Beat" (columnist); contributing editor for Spin and IEEE Spectrum.

Masters of Doom was translated into Italian.


David Kushner specializes in documenting the online and video gaming world for numerous magazines and newspapers. His first book was part of the "For Dummies" series, Music Online for Dummies. With his second book, Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, he delves into the life and works of the two video game designers who created the game Doom, one of the most popular video games ever developed.

"It's a familiar story," wrote Houston Chronicle Online contributor Dwight Silverman: "Two talented, ambitious and brilliant people meet, become successful and produce something that takes the world by storm. But flaws in their personalities—sometimes the very character traits that drove them to dizzying heights—combine to bring it all crashing down." In this case, the duo was John Carmack and John Romero and the story of id Software, but, as Silverman noted, the reader would also be reminded of other famous duos, such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney. As video game producers, the two were responsible for such popular titles as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake, but their influence goes far beyond game development; their software proved so popular that hardware developers even adapted their engineering to be able to accommodate id Software's sophisticated graphics. As Kushner shows, Bill Gates of Microsoft was so impressed with Carmack's programming that he used Doom to demonstrate the effectiveness of Windows 95. But just as the two reached the height of popularity and revenues, the collaboration fell apart. Carmack, the programmer who could work all day writing code, finally grew weary of the antics of the more flamboyant Romero, Kushner shows, and persuaded the other members of the business to fire him. After the tragedy at Columbine High School in Colorado, much was made of the fact that the two perpetrators of that tragedy were devotees of Doom; a lawsuit was lodged that attempted to place blame on the game, but it was dismissed. Since then, the two designers have gone their separate ways.

Kushner's examination of the two game designers as well as id Software garnered positive reviews. Justin Peters, writing in the Washington Monthly, felt that Kushner "tells the story of id with admirable aplomb," and went on to describe the book as a "breezily engaging, fascinating examination of an authentic cultural phenomenon." Booklist's David Siegfried noted that Kushner "has cracked open the dark world of John Carmack and John Romero" in a "tale as addictive as the games themselves." For Siegfried, this is the story of "the ultimate revenge of the nerds." Joe J. Accardi, writing in Library Journal, found the book an "especially fascinating read for longtime gamers," and a critic for Kirkus Reviews similarly concluded, "Laudable coverage of an undeniably important, unsettling cultural transition."

Other reviewers, however, while praising the writing in Masters of Doom, had questions about its limited scope. Jeff Jensen, for example, writing in Entertainment Weekly, commented that "Kushner doesn't grill Carmack and Romero nearly hard enough on the tricky issue of violence and influence." Likewise, Variety's Ann Donahue criticized the book for sharing "the problematic tunnel vision of its creators." Donahue further observed that the book "rarely takes a broader look outside of the gaming community to see what true impact Doom had on society and business as a whole." Seth Mnookin made a similar point in the New York Times Book Review, noting that Kushner "fails to deliver on the second half of his subtitle—the bit about Doom transforming pop culture." Mnookin also had problems with Kushner's "plodding" writing at times, but praised the "book's pacing" as "almost perfect." Mnookin further commented that the book was an "impressive and adroit social history." Jensen also balanced his criticism with praise: "[A]s a tick-tock of the creative process and as insight into a powerful medium too often dismissed as kids' stuff, Masters of Doom blasts its way to a high score." And reviewing the title in the Wall Street Journal, Dean Takahashi commented that Kushner "makes a good case that Messrs. Carmack and Romero have had as much influence over generation X and Y as Nike or Levis."



Booklist, April 1, 2003, David Siegfried, review of Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, p. 1361.

Computer Gaming World, May 1, 2003, review of Masters of Doom.

Entertainment Weekly, May 16, 2003, Jeff Jensen, review of Masters of Doom, p. 74.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2003, review of Masters of Doom, p. 444.

Library Journal, April 1, 2003, Joe J. Accardi, review of Masters of Doom, p. 120.

New Yorker, September 8, 2003, Kate Taylor, review of Masters of Doom, p.22.

New York Times Book Review, May 4, 2003, Seth Mnookin, review of Masters of Doom, p. 27.

School Library Journal, November, 2003, Paul Brink, review of Masters of Doom, p. 173.

Variety, June 23, 2003, Ann Donahue, review of Masters of Doom, p. 35.

Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2003, Dean Takahashi, review of Masters of Doom, p. D5.

Washington Monthly, July-August, 2003, Justin Peters, review of Masters of Doom, pp. 52-54.


David Kushner Web site,http://www.davidkushner.com (February 23, 2004).

GameSpy.com,http://www.gamespy.com/ (April 28-30, 2003), review of Masters of Doom.

Houston Chronicle Online,http://www.chron.com/ (June 19, 2003), Dwight Silverman, review of Masters of Doom.

Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (October 30, 2003), Wagner James Au, review of Masters of Doom.

Space Junk,http://www.spacejunk.org/ (October 30, 2003), review of Masters of Doom.*