How ID Software reclaimed its history by losing its leaders

Tracking DNA

PC Gamer Magazine

(Image credit: Future)

This article first appeared in PC Gamer Magazine Issue 352 in January 2021, as part of the “DNA Tracing” series, where every month we delve into the strains of popular games and studios.

In the early days, ID Software was all about the ego. It was not unique in this respect: like almost all of its contemporaries, id was founded by children of the late 1970s and early 1980s, for whom game development began as a hobby in the bedroom. Without college courses or internships, their instruction was self-directed – driven by the excitement of getting light to navigate the screen.

Knowledge was shared through computer clubs and magazines, but games at the time were not made through teamwork – rather, it was a divine act by an individual typing the most efficient, creative, and accurate code into the Apple II keyboard.

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