Indigenous game developer John Romero releases autobiographical masterpiece: “DOOM Guy”

DOOM Guy: Life In First Person, by John Romero, chronicles the intriguing and exciting life of the Indigenous man who co-created the most influential PC game of all time, DOOM

Enthralling, informative, entertaining, exciting, mesmerizing, jaw-dropping, a wild ride, brilliant, well-written, fun, and so much more. These are just some of the terms I can use when describing John Romero’s new book.

On a non-specific workday, I received an email from Abrams Books, inquiring if I would like an advance copy of “DOOM Guy, Life in First Person,” written by the man often lauded as the godfather of first-person shooter games, John Romero.

A few days later, I received the book, and I eventually cracked open the cover and began reading. 

I was immediately hooked. 

I have read thousands of books in my life. I am and always have been, an avid reader. On one occasion, as a pre-teen kid, I had wandered away from my mom, and she had called my dad desperately worried about my whereabouts. My father found me sitting alone in the Manhattan Beach library.

Out of the thousands of books I have read in my life, “DOOM Guy, Life in First Person,” stands out for countless reasons.

John Romero’s book, “DOOM Guy, Life in First Person.”

John Romero’s book, “DOOM Guy, Life in First Person,” is a beautifully-written autobiographical masterpiece.

Vincent Schilling

First of all, the details, retold in a lively and exciting fashion, are flawlessly crafted by Romero. 

Romero explains in his book that he has Hyperthymesia, a mental condition defined as ‘an ability that allows people to remember nearly every event of their life with great precision.’

Whatever the combination of brain cells in Romero’s mind, it equates to a beautifully-told autobiography. I told Romero personally, “In my life, it is the best autobiography I have ever read.”

Second, Romero is an Indigenous man of Mexican, Yaqui and Cherokee heritage, and a man who self-proclaims himself as obsessed with computer programming language, and an Indiginerd.

I found myself drawn to a story I was incredibly familiar with, a nerdy Native kid, growing up in the 80s on Compton Blvd, without a lot of resources other than an intuitive drive for something better.

Within a chapter or two, thinking about the success of DOOM, Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3-D and more, and now with an incredibly informative and enjoyable book about his life, I thought to myself:   

Is there anything John Romero can’t do?

The simplest answer appears to be no.

My personal experience with the amazing man, John Romero

In 2022, I was under a tremendously tight deadline for the Smithsonian’s American Indian Magazine detailing the world of Indigenous game developers. I spoke to many impressive Indigenous game creators, and assumed getting ahold of Romero with such short notice might be a stretch. But I threw a Hail Mary pass at the end of the fourth down, hoping I might get lucky. 

John Romero, at about 3 AM his time in Galway, Ireland, agreed to speak with me on a Zoom call while I sat in the lobby of a hotel, connected to a terribly slow Wi-Fi on my laptop. I consider it to be one of the most epic wins I have achieved as a journalist. My editor, of course, was also thrilled and impressed.

Romero’s willingness to speak with me at such short notice and at such an hour is a testament to the kind of person he is, a kind, considerate and helpful person, who hopes his efforts help in the success of others.

I tell you this story because it is this degree of kindness, this degree of sincerity, that shines through in Romero’s “DOOM Guy.”

My overall thoughts about “DOOM Guy”

When I received Romero’s book at first, I was intimidated by small print as I often struggle with dyslexia, and small print can be tough, but once I got into the story, I never looked back. For some reason, I didn’t struggle, I was kept enthralled the entire time. Romero’s story was absolutely fascinating.

Truth be told, I couldn’t read fast enough, and as I wrote to Romero and his team in an email, in all caps, I was RAVENOUS to read it.  

Romero brings you into his experiences, and when he tells the story of his life, it is as if you are sitting there with him in the room, tapping on a keyboard, feeling the hurt of an abusive situation, the joy of a ride at Disneyland, the regret of unspoken words.

Romero takes the reader along for the ride. And it is a magical one.

There was also something wonderful about the way Romero describes his experiences, much of his life is immersed in highly technical computer code and language, but as a reader, I never felt excluded from the conversation.

Romero is masterful at inclusion, and in that was immense enjoyment.

I laughed when John said he laughed, felt literal hairs on my arms raised when things were intense and exciting, and of course, I felt the agony of a bad decision or disappointment that Romero unflinchingly tells with a bravery that mesmerized me.

Romero’s “DOOM Guy: Life in First Person” is a beautifully-written autobiographical masterpiece.

I simply can’t recommend it highly enough.

For information on where to purchase Romero’s book visit:

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