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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

John Romero, 30

Ion Storm

Almost all of the TR100 showed an early affinity for innovation. Perhaps none, however, blossomed earlier than John Romero, one of the creators of the popular video games Doom and Quake. Romero began writing games at 12 on an Apple IIe. His first paid games programming was at Origin Systems, creators of the Ultima series. He later took a job at Softdisk Publishing, where he met John Carmack, Adrian Carmack and Tom Hall. In the annals of popular culture, it was a fateful meeting. Together the four founded id software, where Romero was responsible for the design of the Doom series and Quake--games that set industry standards for their ability to simulate reality. These products have become so popular that Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly have hailed Romero as “the Steven Spielberg of gaming.”

Although id had planned to begin on Quake II, Romero left to found Ion Storm and begin work on Daikatana, a first-person game that takes the player on a time-traveling quest for a mystical Japanese sword. The violent content of Doom, Quake and other computer games gives many observers qualms. But there is no question that they have been enormously influential in shaping the way teenagers spend their time--and perhaps how they think and feel. Like it or not, Romero’s creations will shape the cultural landscape of the years to come.

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