John Romero


John Romero (2012)

Alfonso John Romero (born October 28, 1967) is a famous figure in the computer gaming industry, and was a founding employee of id Software. He is considered a father of the first-person shooter video game genre due to his critical programming and design roles in the creation of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Doom II, and Quake.


Born in Colorado, John Romero began programming at age 11 in the student-run computer labs of Sierra College in California. While still a teenager, he published Apple II games in hobbyist magazines such as Nibble. He briefly attended Sierra College before dropping out to work at Origin Systems, then Softdisk.

Romero has been married three times, to Kelly Mitchell, Raluca Plesca, and Brenda Brathwaite. He has three children, Michael, Steven, and Lillia.

id Software[edit]

After repeated conflicts with management over the direction of game development, several Softdisk employees departed to form id Software in 1991.[1] Romero became a key figure in the creation of several seminal games including Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake, as well as serving as an executive producer on Raven Software's Heretic and Hexen. As of 2017, Romero still considers Doom his proudest development achievement.[2]

Ion Storm[edit]

In 1996 Romero was forced to resign from id Software for "not working hard enough"[3]. Romero then co-founded Ion Storm in Dallas, Texas with id co-worker Tom Hall, where he designed and produced Daikatana. That game's critical and commercial failure damaged Romero's reputation, earning him popular blame for questionable development decisions worsened by his name being hyped in the game's early marketing. In particular, an infamous 1997 ad (by Ion's then-CEO Mike Wilson) with the slogan "John Romero's about to make you his bitch" upset many people.[4] Romero left with Tom Hall immediately after the release of Hall's Anachronox game and the subsequent closing of the Dallas Ion Storm office.

Monkeystone Games[edit]

Romero and Hall co-founded Monkeystone Games in July 2001. Between 1999 and 2003, Romero was romantically involved with Stevie Case, a prominent female gaming industry figure who beat him in a Quake deathmatch. Until their breakup, Case was the chief operating officer of Monkeystone. Monkeystone released around 15 games during its short lifespan of three and a half years. Some highlights of their developments included Hyperspace Delivery Boy!, Congo Cube, and a version of Red Faction for the Nokia N-Gage.

Midway Games[edit]

Romero in 2004

In October 2003, he joined Midway Games as project lead on Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. While he continued to maintain his working relationship with Monkeystone, Lucas Davis took over running the office. The Monkeystone team moved to Austin, Texas to work on Midway's Area 51 until its release.[5] Monkeystone Games closed in January 2005. John moved from project lead to creative director of internal studio during this time, but then left Midway in June 2005, only months before the completion of Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows.

Slipgate Ironworks/Gazillion Entertainment[edit]

On August 31, 2005, Romero confirmed that he was working on a yet-to-be-announced MMOG at his newly opened development studio, Slipgate Ironworks.[6] It was reported that the name was temporary. "For the record," Romero wrote, "I'm co-founder of a new game company in the Bay Area and am much better off in many ways than I was at Midway". He said that he would not reveal anything about the company or the game until 2007. On March 17, 2009 it was announced that Slipgate Ironworks was part of Gazillion Entertainment.[7] Along with venture capitalist Rob Hutter and investor Bhavin Shah, Romero was a co-founder of Gazillion.

Romero departed Gazillion Entertainment in November 2010 to form a social game company called Loot Drop alongside Brenda Brathwaite.[8] His longtime co-worker, Tom Hall joined the company on January 1, 2011.

Romero Games[edit]

In August 2014, in a Super Joystiq Podcast at Gamescom 2014 Romero announced that he was about to make a new shooter, stating that he was working with a concept artist and he had some cool imagery for the main character. The Romero Games label currently continues as an independent publisher for games created by members of Romero's family, with the newest release as of 2017 being Gunman Taco Truck.

In 2019[9], Romero Games announced Empire of Sin, a turn-based strategy game set in 1920s Prohibition-era Chicago. Published by Paradox Interactive, the game was released on December 1, 2020, for PC/Mac, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Playstation 4[10].

Night Work Games[edit]

In April 2016, Romero announced a partnership with Adrian Carmack to create a new FPS entitled Blackroom, describing their vision as a visceral, varied and violent shooter that harkens back to classic FPS play with a mixture of exploration, speed, and intense, weaponized combat. They were seeking $700,000 via Kickstarter to see the project to completion and anticipated a launch in late 2018.[11][12] However, due to negative reception of the Kickstarter campaign regarding a lack of tangible material related to the pitch, the project was put on hiatus.

Levels by Romero[edit]

John Romero's head on a stick

Doom/Ultimate Doom[edit]

Doom II[edit]






Design rules[edit]

While designing levels for Doom, Romero documented several rules, among them:

  • always changing floor height when I wanted to change floor textures
  • using special border textures between different wall segments and doorways
  • being strict about texture alignment
  • conscious use of contrast everywhere in a level between light and dark areas, cramped and open areas
  • making sure that if a player could see outside that they should be able to somehow get there
  • being strict about designing several secret areas on every level
  • making my levels flow so the player will revisit areas several times so they will better understand the 3D space of the level
  • creating easily recognizable landmarks in several places for easier navigation [13]


  • John likes listening to heavy metal music. He supplied Bobby Prince a large number of heavy metal records, which was the inspiration for the MIDI rock music used in Doom and Doom II.
  • John Romero is a character in Mike "Cyb" Watson's modification MassMouth 2. In addition, Daikatana is given as a prize for saving Worm and killing Romero.
  • In Action Doom, the first level contains an ad "Scuba Steve is a whiny little bitch", a reference to the Daikatana ad. A Daikatana box also sits on the table in the player's room on the final level.
  • In 2002, Romero put his Ferrari up for auction on eBay. Heavily modified, one could plug a laptop into the parallel port in the back of the passenger seat, and tune the engine while it was running.
  • Romero's head can be found within the final boss of Doom II (see MAP30: Icon of Sin). As the monster awakens, it makes an incomprehensible and evil-sounding noise, which is actually Romero's voice saying "To win the game you must kill me, John Romero" played backwards.


External links[edit]


  1. Pitts, Russ (25 July 2006). "John Romero: The Escapist Interview." The Escapist (archived 🏛). Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  2. noclip (31 January 2017). "John Romero's Irish Adventure - Noclip Profiles." YouTube. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  3. John Carmack Interviews,
  4. Reparaz, Mikel (21 March 2007). "The Top 7... PR disasters." GamesRadar+ (archived 🏛). Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  5. Retro Gamer magazine, issue 75: In the Chair with ... John Romero (pages 78-89)
  6. Gibson, Ellie (21 September 2005). "John Romero's new studio." (archived 🏛). Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  7. Gazillion Entertainment (17 March 2009). "Gazillion in agreement with Marvel Entertainment to bring iconic super heroes to massively multiplayer games audience, unveils new company and studios." (archived 🏛). Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  8. Loot Drop. "Loot Drop —" (archived 🏛). Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  9. Paradox Interactive (11 June 2019). "Romero Games Announces Empire of Sin." Blue's News. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  10. Paradox Interactive (1 December 2020). "Paradox Financials - Empire of Sin Delayed to Fall." Blue's News. Retrieved 6 November 2023.
  11. "Blackroom." (archived 🏛).
  12. "Doom creators seek cash for 'classic' shooter."
  13. Turner, Benjamin (12 December 2003). "DOOM: 10 Years of Hell - Creating DOOM: Romero Remembers." (archived 🏛). Retrieved 20 December 2017.
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